Saturday, December 10, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Remember when I said watching Part 1 when it was on disc meant I could go see Part 2 in the theater and be really fresh on it? Heh. Anyway, the final film in the long-running Harry Potter series finally brings the story to a conclusion, answering a few questions and putting an end to the reign of the evil Lord Voldemort once and for all. I hope that isn't a spoiler. Having now seen both of the films that were made from the final book after it was chopped in half, I definitely think they should have been one movie. I understand why Warner Bros would want to increase their profits by splitting them up, and avoid a running time that was too long. But they could have easily cut the two films into a single three hour one, and I think it would have been a better movie.

Part of the fallout of splitting the story up is that Part 2 has a pretty odd structure. It has a low key little beginning sequence where Harry talks to a few people and establishes his goals for the rest of the film, then cuts to a partly comedic, partly exciting sequence where he and his friends break into a bank to retrieve one of the doodads they need to defeat Voldemort. It's a solid first act, but then the film skips the second one entirely and jumps straight to an extremely long and drawn out climax for the whole series, when the gang returns to Hogwarts to find the last pieces of the puzzle and fight off the evil army, with help from the other students and pretty much every friendly character from the series' history. There's an ebb and flow of excitement and drama during this part that prevents it from straining too hard or forcing its momentum to a grinding halt, but I can't say it entirely avoids feeling off from time to time. The larger cast outside of the main three kids gets more attention here than they did in Part 1, and it was nice to see a lot of these characters get a last moment or two even if they never got developed in the movies nearly as much as they did on the page.

Besides some of the night scenes being too dark to actually tell what was going on, I didn't have many problems with this long sequence until near the end, after all has been revealed and the game is finally on. A couple things just didn't quite work. The Deathly Hallows themselves were a last minute narrative device already in the books, and they come off even more so here. They were already explained in Part 1, but that needed to be reiterated here in Part 2 for those who might have forgotten, and the explanations are brief and incomplete. They seem less like well-considered keys to victory and more like cheap explanations for why the good guys are able to win without actually having to be smarter or stronger than their opponents. And the final battle itself is just a bit clumsy - it's bigger and more spread out than it appeared in the book, which doesn't really do it any favors and seems like a poor reaction to the less than perfect ending J.K. Rowling crafted in the first place. I don't know if I'm presenting my issues well, but the main thing is just that this series has great production values, but the final scenes presented in this film don't quite live up to the decade of preparation that led up to them. I think David Yates did a solid job bringing the second half of the series to life, but he rarely rose above that mark. It was ultimately an entertaining movie though, befitting a likable if imperfect franchise.

No comments: