Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Review
This article was originally written in July 2011 and published on the now-defunct pottersplace.org.uk
Warning: spoilers ahead.
It did all end, and largely as expected, despite some fears the filmmakers would take a few too many liberties. The various crescendos of the books were duly included, their boxes ticked, although in some cases it was merely lip service. I suspect I am going to need repeat viewings to fully appreciate it. Despite being the shortest of the films, and with only half a book to show, it still felt very rushed (apart from one or two quiet scenes, where the lack of speed was unsuccessfully used to try and convey solemnity). You didn’t get much chance to enjoy the big set pieces as we stormed through them and off to the next.
I said in my review of Part 1 that:
If the final battle doesn’t last for half-an-hour and isn’t a cross between Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, The Magnificent Seven and Spartacus, with wands, I will be very disappointed.
It wasn’t. Maybe that was because the audience age dictated handling in a different way, but the scale was ripped away by constant shifts in location and purpose. We pass Aberforth with barely a mention, flick between the battle, searching for the diadem, a quick trip to the Chamber of Secrets. We don’t see Tonks, Lupin or Fred die. The scene with the resurrection stone was largely pointless. Molly Weasley finally gets her time to shine after spending so much of the story in the shadows, but, aside from channelling Ripley from Aliens, the moment passes so swiftly you don’t get a chance to savour it.
The battle between Harry and Voldemort seemed a let down too, with them spending most of the time with their wands locked together in a way that was only supposed to happen for wands with identical cores. I was hoping for something more like the Luke/Vader fight from The Empire Strikes Back, with the protagonists trading curses hammer and tong, Voldemort throwing masonry and taunts while Nagini tried to sink her fangs in. In the finale, we also missed the talking, the circling, Voldemort taking on three foes. Not to mention it took place outside instead of in the Great Hall, the spiritual home of the series.
As for the changes, not sure the change of scene to the boat house for Snape’s death, something that has never even been hinted at before, worked. Nor Harry dragging Voldemort over the precipice. They stole Neville’s thunder a bit too, I felt. For a moment I feared they’d let someone else kill Nagini, but thankfully they didn’t.
On the plus side, while Helena Bonham Carter’s Bellatrix Lestrange doesn’t get much screen time, her impression of Hermione playing Bellatrix is so good I wondered if they’d used CGI. I thought Ron and Hermione’s relationship was handled well. Most of the cast barely got a chance to appear though, let alone a chance to show us what they could do (who wouldn’t want to see them in full flow?).
Ironically, I think the battle may have got in the way of some of bits the fans were looking forward to, there was little humanisation, little sacrifice on show, just lots of wand swinging followed by the occasional body and shell-shocked face. The bodies of Tonks, Lupin and Fred are almost an afterthought. There was no banter from Percy as he fights alongside Fred right before he’s killed, no one throwing themselves into the line of fire to save a friend or loved one. Even Ron’s witty one-liners were limited. Where were the house elves? Their charge, led by Kreature, would have been worth a shot or two.
And what was the point of 3D except to make more money? The film was shot in 2D, so that had to be converted in post, the only thing that was natively 3D were the effects. I saw it in 2D, as I do with every movie (if there isn’t a 2D option I won’t go). When will we get past the idea 3D adds anything?
I didn’t dislike the film, but I didn’t come out buzzing. As I said, I think it’ll take repeat viewings to take it all in if you’re not part of the ADD generation. Maybe then it will leave a better impression. At the moment it feels like they ticked all the boxes, crammed in as much of the books as they could without changing them but cut out the heart, the thing which made them so great. It was a film without a soul.