Monday, 30 January 2012

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Review

So this is how it all ends, eh?  From a cinematic standpoint, this one is a lot different from the others.  But, considering that it is essentially the second half of one movie, I'm not surprised.  It starts out fast and doesn't let go for quite a while.  The tension is pretty tight for most of it and it builds up to the big battle for Hogwarts.  Then, bam!  Deathly Hallows grinds to an absolute halt with this need to get all philosophical and it goes off in a direction that it never really recovers from.

That isn't to say that the final climax isn't exciting.  It is.  In fact, the action all the way through is some of the best in the entire series.  But after slowing down so much, it would have taken a lot more to get the momentum rolling to a pace that it was at before.  Because of that, the climax is actually kind of anti-climatic.  Right from when Harry goes back into the forest to face Voldemort alone, the film gets very confusing (almost to Prisoner of Azkaban levels).  For a story that was supposed to bring an end and some closure, they sure left some things unanswered.  I won't spoil it for anyone because I do believe that there are a lot of people out there who don't know how this story ends.  While Potter did permeate pop culture more than anything since Star Wars, the fate of Harry Potter hasn't quite gotten to the level of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father.  Case in point: if I hadn't asked my brother what happened when the Deathly Hallows book came out, I wouldn't have known what happened until I saw the movie.  And even then, I had forgotten all of it except for one line.  The world of fantasy is just too specialized in its followers.  If you're into it, you'll know.  If you aren't you'll know the story exists but you don't pay attention.  (This is an argument my brother, Andy, and I actually have had and I don't think either of us will ever give in on it ;-).)

So, while there are a few questions raised by the events in the climax, they are really limited to that small part of the story and can be just accepted by the viewer.  The overall questions that we asked throughout the whole thing are answered.  In that, it wrapped up nicely.  And, without spoiling it, I have to say I really, really like what they did with the Neville Longbottom character's fate.  For me, that took the theme of the movie from decent to very good.  And it just goes to strengthen my theory that this is not a retelling of the Christ story or an attack on Christendom.

Technically, I only really had one problem.  This one never seemed to find any consistency in its effects.  Some of the effects are absolutely brilliant.  The fire and magic effects are some of the best I've seen in recent memory.  But the goblin makeup effects were downright "Cabbage Patch Kids."  But, all in all, it was a net gain.

While I was disappointed for that 20-30 minutes of philosophical surrealness, I still recommend that you see it.  The two Deathly Hallows movies together make for a good evening's entertainment if you have the time and know the story.  But this one is better simply because it is the climax whereas Part 1 has the more dull buildup.

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