August 31, 2011
by Derek Defoe
It's hard to review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 without getting a little nostalgic. How can you reflect on the ten years we've spent with the character without feeling just a little sentimental? When we first met Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, they were just little kids entering a world of magic and adventure with wide eyes full of wonderment. There were always dangerous situations from time to time but for the most part it was still all good fun and appropriate for the whole family. As the movies went on the dangers heightened and the movies became more serious and mature. We watched the trio grow from kids, to sexually frusterated teenagers, to adults with something to prove. We watched Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson evolve from very talented child actors into iconic figures that are sure to end up being just as respected and well-known as their elder co-stars. Radcliffe, whether he knew it or not at the time, had an extremely heavy burden playing one of the most popular fictional characters of all time and he grew into the role amazingly well. He comes full circle in this final instalment, as does the character, and he gives it his all. There are emotions and fears in Deathly Hallows Part 2 Radcliffe conveys that we've never seen before. He sends off this character with his wand full blast.
And the supporting cast, my God, how wonderful they are. In both the young talent and the acting legends. This film and the series as a whole plays out as a veritable "who's who" of accomplished English actors, including but not limited to Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Brenden Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, John Hurt, Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton, and a noseless Ralph Fiennes. Over these movies we've met some great characters that all add to the overall charm of what makes this series so fantastic and what will keep audiences coming back to it for years to come. Some of these characters are kindhearted and good, some are just pure evil, and there is a large amount finding themselves somewhere in-between.
I think my favourite supporting character would have to be Dumbledore. An interesting, flawed, wise, brave, tragic character. Maybe the biggest tragedy of Dumbledore is that we had to mourn his death twice: in the story of the novel and film and in real life as well, as Richard Harris unfortunately passed away after making Chamber of Secrets. Michael Gambon took over and was a fine replacement but I would say I sort of prefer Harris' portrayal just a little better. His Dumbledore came off as a more wise and tender elder figure and his contribution to the first two films was essential in introducing the character. But as the story progressed the danger became more crucial and Dumbledore needed to have a little more edge and determination and Gambon brought all that into effect wonderfully and to be honest I don't know if Harris could have pulled it off quite as well. It's like the actors were two sides to a coin playing him. I'm sure Dumbledore's death made a lot of fans sad but maybe not moreso than J.K. Rowling herself, who apparently was in tears when the time came to write his murder scene. I suspect no one could feel closer to that character than the writer herself, she had details worked out about him that even the biggest fan couldn't conclude after studying every last sentence. I wonder what it must be like to have all these fully realized characters living inside your head, like parts of your soul scattered about in Horcroxes hidden in secret rooms.
Dumbledore makes one final appearence in Deathly Hallows Part 2 near the end when Harry is killed and awakens inside a sort of purgatory. It's strange and hard to describe but I felt like in that last scene we had the Harris version of Dumbledore back. I felt the wisdom and tendernous I admired so much alive again, as if Gambon was channeling the incarnation we met all those 10 years ago. It was an oddly transcendent scene, and I suppose for more reasons than one.
I saw the movie in IMAX 3D. I usually go out of my way to see the 2D version of any movie, but for this case my decision was based purely on time convenience. The 3D screening was at 6:45 and the 2D was at 8:00. I wanted to be home by a sensible time, so 3D won. And I figured why not? I can buy the movie when it comes to video and watch it in 2D as often as I like but there will be only one shot to see it in IMAX and in 3D. I have to say, the 3D was pretty damn good. It didn't knock me out of my seat completely but when it really worked, it really worked. This is of course the only entry in the saga to have a 3D release and naturally it felt like the most suited for it. There are plenty of intense battle scenes that go on for practically the last half of the movie, which, if we're going to get technical, would actually be the last quarter. That is a fair amount. There's ghastly creatures attacking, there's characters having their stand-out moments of glory, and there's characters meeting their deaths in battle. It's as good as this stuff gets.
By the time it's all over it's almost exhausting. And when Voldemort is finally defeated by Harry it's almost like a relief and a necessity to the story. It's not entirely satisfying. But then again neither was seeing the Eye of Sauran crumble to pieces or Darth Vader sans mask take his final breaths. When these characters die it hits you that the story is over and with all that build up with movies like these I don't think there's anything that could be done that would be completely 100% satisfying. It's like the journey is more important than the destination. By that same merit, our heroes can have the happiest of endings, the sweetest of bookends, absolutely every loose end could be tied up, but the fact that it's all over is kind of...disagreeable.
Having said all that they did a great job with this final instalment. And as a whole, this is a classic series for the ages. I would give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 a 10/10, not that ratings really mean all that much in the long run. Hell, I would give every single Harry Potter movie a 10/10 rating. They all have some flaws and some I found more interesting than others but they're all stitchings in a rich tapestry of an incredible movie series that has brought us many years of excitment and magic, so why shouldn't I? Who am I trying to impress?
J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Helena Bonham Carter