Wednesday 20 July 2011

Today's Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

Well, it's been a long journey, but the last Harry Potter movie is out. No one's been this excited since the last Harry Potter book came out. Love it or hate it, there's no denying that J.K. Rowling's wizarding stories have become a massive phenomenon, and has probably overtaken bad teeth as the thing people know the British for. I think I got into Harry Potter around when the third or fourth book was out, but I have gladly read all the books. I think I read a couple within the space of a day or two, a feat only previously matched by Douglas Adams novels.

While the first movie was good, it was clear that the kids cast in it were not great actors. But it's been great to watch them grow and mature with the story, and it's really been an acting masterclass for them to take their characters from light-hearted kids in peril to teenagers in mortal danger.

If you haven't seen any of the others, as I probably said my Deathly Hallows Part 1 review, go and watch them, I'm not going to recap the story. But Part 2 opens straight after the climax of the first, funnily enough. Voldemort has grown to be pretty badass, and he has a new wand which is awesome. Meanwhile, Harry Ron and Hermione have managed to stop traipsing through forests and are looking to visit some more exotic places to destroy the rest of Voldemort's soul. Their first port of call is Gringott's, where they plan to break into one of the impenetrable vaults. After this, however, the only option is to find the last piece, hidden somewhere in Hogwart's. Trouble is, Voldemort and his army are on the trail, and the stage is set for the final battle between good and evil in the iconic school.

The Harry Potter movies have always had the ability to sink big budgets into the special effects and cast, due to the huge following it had from the beginning. But in the last few years the productions have become suitably more epic, and very dark. This is definitely no exception. The sets look stunning, and no expense is spared on the amount of spells flying around as the battles intensify. The great choices that were made with the casting of characters at the beginning of the series pay off well here too, with every actor giving it their best as their very lives are in immediate danger. Even Neville Longbottom has turned into a real dude.

There were several times when some chills went down my spine. The ever present menace, and the exchanges between good guys and bad guys just made for great cinema. The movie is beautifully shot, and the whole production leads to a very emotional and adrenaline fueled ending to the story.

There were a couple of areas where Deathly Hallows Part 2 was lacking, however. My main concern was with the pacing. Everything is going well up until the main battle of Hogwart's. This was one of my favourite parts of the book, with the action constantly shifting between characters and various groups of people turning up to join in the fight. I thought that Rowling must be writing in all this stuff just to make it difficult for the people who made the movie to include everything, turns out I was right. As soon as the battle begins we start to follow just Harry, Ron and Hermione, as they run around various staircases trying to figure out what to do. We know there's a huge battle going on outside, but all we see is snippets, and a scene where we follow Harry as he runs through the action. When I was reading the book I was imagining sweeping shots like in the battle scenes of Lord Of The Rings, but instead it all felt a little rushed, with some important elements left out. We see the fate of several characters in the aftermath, but we never see how they actually got into that situation, when it was clearly explained in the book. It all makes me feel the tiniest bit cheated, as the whole point of splitting the movie into two parts was to make sure everything was portrayed, and with Part 2 being almost 20 minutes shorter than Part 1 they could have easily squeezed in some more of the action.

The 3D wasn't great too. I know I hate it when 3D is used simply as a tool for making shit fly in your face, but I have seen movie where the depth factor is used to really good effect, even in, dare I say, Avatar. But with Deathly Hallows Part 2 the 3D just felt a little tacked on, quite flat, and really did nothing to add to the experience. It's stranger still how a movie in two parts only has the latter half in 3D, if they wanted to make it 3D why not do the whole thing? Without the 3D the series would still be awesome, and that bit more consistent.

These are my only two concerns with the movie though, and they feel a little bit nitpicky. Well, apart from the first one. But despite the pacing issues this is an outstanding ending to the series, and really raises the bar with the amount of love and effort poured into these movies. It's exciting, it's emotional, it's well acted and wonderfully made. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll pretend you can do magic afterwards! It's Harry Potter, bitches.

My rating: 4/5

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