Saturday, 16 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Spoilers)

As with my previous Harry Potter reviews I must start off with the disclaimer that I am one of the few people on the planet who have not read the books.  I confess I don’t know exactly what I was doing or reading when the series started but it’s now down to equal parts lack of interest/misplaced stubbornness that I just refuse to tackle the novels.

PLOT:  The Deathly Hallows Part 2 opens exactly as Part 1 finished and as I was already half way down the isle at that stage it posed a slight problem as I couldn't remember what was happening.  I still don’t know what the Deathly Hallows is/are.  There is the never ending treasure hunt for the McGuffin Horcruxes.  There is the Battle at Hogwarts but we only see hastily edited snippets as our focus is on Harry running up and down a corridor after ghost.  There was not the “Harry, I am your father moment” I was expecting from the dying Snape.   Voldemort kills Harry.  Harry kills Voldemort and they all live happily ever after surrounded by the ever growing ginger cult the new generation of Weasley children.  END PLOT

I have no idea if Part 2 was loyal to the novel and as per usual I don’t care - I have always watched Harry Potter from the view point of a film fan and that is how I must write my review.

The plot rolled on at a decent pace although I still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.  The Harry Potter films all have this annoying habit of catering to their fans and them alone - for someone going in blind it has always been a struggle to understand the half hearted and at times down right confusing exposition. 

Credit where it is due though - the Snape back story was one of the best sections in the film although my initial thought of “Dumbledore is a cruel bastard then?” was apparently the wrong one to have.

The final instalment definitely became the Harry Potter story with Ron and Hermione not having as big a part to play this time around.  This is fitting since Harry’s story was finally coming to an end but it was disappointing as Daniel Radcliffe is the least engaging of the three stars. 

With Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) relegated to supporting cast the actual supporting cast were in turn given nothing more than a quick cameo. 

Alan Rickman stole the show as Snape in what has now become tradition.  The cadence of his speech is so slow and pronounced you just cannot take your eyes off him when he talks.

It was great to see Dame Maggie Smyth back and getting to show the tough fighting side of Professor McGonagall and out of the cast she together with Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom got a brief moment to shine.

Seeing respected British actors such as Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson and the great Gary Oldman hanging around in group scenes does seem like such a waste of their talent but I think seeing them in the crowd brings a real sense of continuity to the Potter world.  It also shows the affect that Harry Potter has had on the British film industry in that our top actors are prepared to reprise their roles for the smallest of scenes. 

If Part 1 is to remembered as the boring camping half, Part 2 rightly deserves the accolade of the action half.  Some of the minor set pieces such as the section in the goblins vault were a bit blah but it didn’t particularly matter as even I, the non-fan, was waiting in anticipation for the Battle of Hogwarts.

The Battle of Hogwarts was disappointing as aside from a few wand zapping moments very little happened other than screaming school children running around the corridors of the school.  The Battle had the potential to be an epic confrontation between the characters but it never really got going and nothing more dramatic happened than Neville blowing up a bridge.

I will admit that during the battle I did feel a flicker of emotion when Lupin (well remembered) and his girlfriend (I can’t even name her after a trip to IMDB) were reaching out to hold one another’s hands before the battle started only for the camera to cut to them reaching out to each other in death.  This was the best shot in the entire film and probably the only time I have ever felt real emotion for any of the characters.

During the battle other characters didn’t fare so well.  Although there was a nice little Fred and George moment before the Battle, the death of Fred/George didn’t pull the emotional punch it should have as the grief of George/Fred and the rest of the Weasley family (including Ron) was going on in the background.

Even Mrs Weasley and her “Ripley” moment of daughter saving swearing fell flat as Ginny never appeared to be in any real danger and there was no tension in the scene whatsoever.

The effects in the Battle were flashes of zapping colour coming from the wands but there wasn’t any overly memorable magic used - Professor McGonagall summoning the stone statues into battle was probably the best effects moment of the film.

After eight films the stand-off between Harry and Voldemort became a dick ward measuring contest in which Harry won by remembering at the last minute that he was the true owner of Voldemorts wand.  This stemmed from the events surrounding Dumbledore’s death which took place about four years ago and I do thank the writers for the “you remember, back when Draco tried to kill Dumbledore” moment of explanation as I was deploying full WTF at that moment.

The argument of the merits of splitting the final novel into two films will run on for a while yet - could they perhaps of shortened the forest sections and added the Battle of Hogwarts onto the end of Part 1?  The answer is they probably could and my cynical side does see it as an attempt to eek the revenue proceeds out to the maximum.

Saying that Part 2 holds up very well as a film in its own right so perhaps they are justified in their decision. 

Towards the end of Harry Potter there was a lot of sniffling echoing around the cinema and I will admit that I did feel sad that the saga had come to an end but part of me can’t help but feel that I was an outsider watching my own generation saying goodbye to an important part of their adolescence. 

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 gets 9/10.  This is generous as sections of the film lost it’s spark and they never managed to convey the threat of danger during the Battle of Hogwarts but in terms of ending one of the greatest and most cinematic franchises to date I think it did a bloody good job.

Overall it transpires that I did care a lot more about Harry Potter than I would ever let on ………………………………… although not enough to ever read the books.


  1. I'm right there with you K, I'm very much an outsider in these franchise, I've just been a part of it as a film fan and to just know what the hell everybody is talking about, something I'd never do with something like Twilight but I digress. Glad to know I wasn't the only one that feels totally lost at the start of new chapters as I tried to remember what happend and who was who.

  2. Don't mention Twilight as it is coming soon (although I have already said to the girls that I cannot sit through another one!)

    Make sure you read Cindy's review as it is really good!

    I was bored stupid during Part1 but luckily Part2 picked it up and ended the Harry Potter story strongly.