Film review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), directed by David Yates
The eighth and final instalment of the Harry Potter saga is currently (at the time of writing) enjoying #95 on the IMDb Top 250 list. Everywhere I’ve read, people are hailing it … and it’s not without good reason.
As we went to see a double showing of Deathly Hallows (Part 1 followed by Part 2 at midnight), we had the events from the previous film fresh in mind. As you might recall, Part 1 ended with a showdown at Malfoy Manor, during which Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Griphook the Gringotts goblin (Warwick Davis) and the wandmaker Mr. Ollivander (John Hurt) were saved. Sadly, we had to part with Dobby the house elf. What angered a lot of us fans at the time, was that they neglected to put up the headstone saying “Here lies Dobby, a free elf” over his grave. They rectified that here, thankfully. And then the wild ride begins.
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) have got work to do. They need to break into the wizarding bank Gringotts in search of horcruxes, and then it’s off to Hogwarts to meet Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and End It All, Once and For All.
I’ll try to not spoil things here the best I can, and instead make a separate post about all the things I want to talk about.
Suffice it to say that fans of the book should not be disappointed with this adaptation. I sure wasn’t. It had all the important things – except for a trip to the Ravenclaw Tower, which I was disappointed they left out, but on the other hand, perhaps not strictly needed in order to tell the story. Want Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) to kick ass? He does. Want Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) to tell Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) where to stick it? She does. Want the back story of Severus Snape (Alan Rickman and, as a child, Benedict Clarke) explained in all its glorious and heart-wrenching detail? You get it. Dread characters you love being killed off and Hogwarts torn to pieces? Sadly, on that account, both happen. Do you want to see the soppy epilogue played out in front of your eyes in all its gag-worthy sentimentality? You get it.
For the epilogue, 19 Years Later, they didn’t get a bunch of 40-year-olds to play the characters – they aged the youngsters using make-up and CGI … which means that essentially, you get a bunch of 20-year-olds looking like 20-year-olds with dodgy haircuts, trying to have parent-child talks to actors half their age, and it’s just a bit weird. Also, I was looking forward to seeing Bertie Gilbert from Horrible Histories as Scorpius Malfoy, and you couldn’t even tell it was him as he had the back of his head toward the camera for the split second you see the Malfoys! I’m not a fan of the epilogue anyway, but I wouldn’t say it was improved by seeing it played out on film.
There are scores of excellent actors in this film, and I couldn’t possibly name them all, but the ones I particularly enjoyed were Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), who had some great lines; Neville, because he too had some great lines and we always knew he had it in him to be seriously awesome; Alan Rickman and finally finding out about who Snape really was (the scene that made me cry the most); but the best one was probably Helena Bonham Carter playing Emma Watson playing Hermione polyjuiced into Bellatrix. It was spot on. What a fantastic actress she is! (HBC, that is.)
Since Crabbe got done for drug possession some years ago, he’s been left out of the films, which meant that for the scene in the Room of Requirement, we didn’t get Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) with Crabbe and Goyle (Josh Herdman), but instead, Goyle and Blaise Zabini (Louis Cordice). Didn’t really bother me, to be honest, but on the plus side, it’s been over seven months since I finished re-reading Deathly Hallows, so I didn’t have all the inconsistencies fresh in mind this time, which helped.
The scenery was breathtaking, as were the details they put into bringing the magic world alive. Seeing Hogwarts in the height of battle was difficult – but that was partially balanced out by them finally showing the boat house. I’ve got the Order of the Phoenix game for Wii and screw game play, I love just walking around Hogwarts learning the layout, and what I always liked about it was the fact that it gave us the boat house location. In the game, it’s not more than a wooden shack, but in the film, it’s almost church-looking with all the glass windows. Admittedly, a wooden shack is a lot easier from a roleplaying perspective, because if you go down there for some privacy, there’s a lot less risk of being seen through the walls of a wooden shack, as opposed to a frickin’ greenhouse. But I digress. At least it was there, and that warmed the cockles of my heart so much.
We were also introduced to Aberforth Dumbledore (Ciarán Hinds). Ahh, fancy Mr Rochester being the brother of Albus Dumbledore! We still didn’t get a proper back story explained when it came to Ariana (Hebe Beardsall, who just appears as a painting), nor the events surrounding her death, and why Aberforth and his brother didn’t see eye to eye. Would’ve thought it was a fairly important thing to explain Albus Dumbledore’s character, but there you go. I also don’t get why there always seems to be snow in Hogsmeade in the films. There’s nothing in the books to support this? The only time they mention snow is in Prisoner in Azkaban because it’s, oh I dunno, winter when they’re there? The Battle of Hogwarts, a stone’s throw away, is clearly not set during the snow season.
One of the most exciting and wonderful touches of this final film is how they made so many nods to the previous films, from the Cornish pixies in the Room of Requirement to the sheer number of Hogwarts staff members that show up again: professors Flitwick (Warwick Davis – again!), Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), Sprout (Miriam Margolyes), and Trelawney (Emma Thompson), featuring Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Madam Pomfrey (Gemma Jones) and Mr. Filch (David Bradley) with his beloved cat, Mrs Norris.
With bits of humour, keeping fairly close to the source material and with a high pace, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 does not disappoint. It’s only a couple of hours long, and I think they could’ve afforded to put some more things in – it’s the last film, after all, let’s pull out all the stops – but overall, we both came away with a feeling that it was a fitting ending to a great story. I wouldn’t perhaps agree with it being the 95th best movie of all time, because even if I love this film because I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, some of the younger actors could still do with some acting lessons. And I agree with my friend, who said after seeing the first film when it came out, that Daniel Radcliffe isn’t Harry Potter, he just plays him. Rupert Grint, on the other hand, doesn’t play his character, he IS Ron Weasley. And so on.
Definitely 5 out of 5 horcruxes.