Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Movie – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

As the poster says, “It all ends.”  This is the eighth and final Harry Potter movie.  The prior seven have all been very popular and this one may end up being the most popular of them all.  Critics almost universally approve of the movie.  People who have read the books have been a little more critical of it, and not in a nitpicky “he wore a RED shirt in the book, not a GREEN one!” kind of way.  Reactions have been the strongest to the moviemakers choosing to weaken the intensity of the final Harry vs. Voldemort battle.  The result is that many readers who were looking forward to this incredible scene got something that was more anticlimactic than they were expecting.  I share this feeling.  Personally, while watching the movie I was figuring I would give this film five stars, but the last 15 or 20 minutes were a little bit of a let down.  It’s still a very good four star movie, though.

First, if you have not seen the preceding Harry Potter movies don’t bother watching this one.  There is no way that you will be able to follow what is going on, or to keep track of all the many characters running around.  As a nod to the fans, almost every character that has ever appeared in a prior Harry Potter movie appears in this one, at least in cameo.

This movie picks right up from where Part 1 left off.  Harry, Hermione, and Ron need to continue to find the objects that Voldemort left part of his soul in so that they can destroy them.  This will give them a chance to defeat Voldemort.  Big battles and personal confrontations ensue.  Many things are revealed, especially about Dumbledore and Snape.  Non-readers might end up being confused by a few scenes in the movie.  I’ve seen the same couple of questions over and over on the IMDB boards.  Unfortunately, I can’t explain them here because they would be massive spoilers for the exact same people.  My best advice is to go to the same boards if you have questions after seeing the movie.

A warning for parents of young children who have not read the book – many familiar faces die in this movie.  If your child had trouble dealing with the death at the end of Part 1, then be aware that Part 2 has several more scenes like that. 

In another example where readers were disappointed that the movie weakened scenes from the book, the deaths of some characters were glossed over in the movie.  Instead of making their deaths more meaningful, like in the book, it’s almost a laundry list in the movie.  “Yeah, this one’s dead.  Oh, here are a couple more people dead.  Now back to the action.”  You don’t get to feel that their sacrifice was meaningful.  These have been people that have been in movie after movie, or even that kids have grown up reading about, and their deaths are almost an afterthought in the film.

One other place I noticed the movie toning down something is the Gringotts vault scene.  In the book getting out of the vault is a matter of life and death.  In the movie it’s more an inconvenience than anything else.  I’m sure the moviemakers did this knowing that children make up a big part of their audience, but the movie did end up with a PG-13 rating anyway for the violence and intensity that was left in, and it would not have received an R if they had kept these scenes as intense as in the book.

The toning down of some scenes is my only complaint with the movie.  It is very emotional in some areas and does a good job of showing the stakes that everyone is fighting for.  It might be the best movie of the entire series, although movies 3 and 5 were also very good.  It is much better than the Part 1 movie. 

For those who don’t know, the studio decided to split the seventh and final book into two movies because they said it was too thick to get everything into a single movie.  That’s a pretty weak excuse.  Books 4, 5, and 6 were just as thick, but were done in single movies.  The Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie could have easily had 50 minutes trimmed out of it and with a little pain another 20-30 minutes after that.  Combine the result with a slightly trimmed (5-10 minutes) Part 2 movie and you would have had one hellacious, kick ass three hour conclusion to the series.

Instead of doing that the studio decided to make one okay movie and one very good movie.  The reason: an extra billion (with a “B”) dollars in profits.  The final movie ought to really be titled Harry Potter and the Big Pile of Cash.  Of course, I’d be a hypocrite if I said that I wouldn’t pocket an extra billion dollars just for diluting my product a little.

Unless you have not seen the prior Harry Potter movies I highly recommend you see this film.  It is a very good conclusion to the entire series.

Chip’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Finally, a bit of fun.  Ever wonder what some classic album covers would look like if Harry Potter characters were on them?  Probably not, but the result is quite entertaining.  (Snape as Elvis is my favorite one.  Dobby in Queen is another.)  Click here to see the album covers. 

           DVD                      Blu-ray                    Hardcover                   Kindle (not available)

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