Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

This post was previously titled “Would You Carry Me To the End?” after My Chemical Romance’s “To the End.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Review after the First Watch, 12:05 a.m. Friday, July 15:

If I say I loved it, everyone’s going to brush me off with the “of course you did,” roll of the eyes. And if I write that this was the best movie of the series, everyone will say it’s because it’s the last one; it’s the masterpiece that finishes off a decade of fantastic film.

So let’s dive a bit deeper, shall we?

All performances were stunning, from Daniel Radcliffe (let’s face it—he’ll always be Harry, no matter how many lavish Broadway musicals he stars in) to Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), whom I am sure you all know I adore from the sixth movie. Matthew Lewis, the newly acclaimed “Harry Potter Sex Icon” who plays Neville—those are fake teeth he wears, by the way—handles the most important episode of his character with perfection. Needless to say, the adults, from Maggie Smith (Prof. McGonagall) whom I believe has never had this much fun doing a movie, to Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley) who delivers the line that makes all Harry Potter fans burst out in applause and laughter, all do their roles complete and utter justice. I was impressed with the subtlety of Narcissa Malfoy’s pivotal role, which the actress kept true to the book, as well as Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) being the most impactful with the fewest lines.

But the tour de force of the entire film—nay, of this year’s cinema so far—was Alan Rickman as Snape. I don’t cry in movies (“Titanic” makes me laugh and I claim it was allergies that made me tear at Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful”), but I absolutely lost it in the major scenes of Snape’s memories. If the Academy refuses to address this film as one of the year’s most important achievements in technical cinema, hopefully they can look past the forever stereotyped “franchise” label critics have placed on the series and nominate Rickman for Best Supporting Actor. Never have I felt the pain and sadness of a character so deeply in film. Every Harry Potter movie has its stunning performance; Gary Oldman as Sirius in “Prisoner of Azkaban,” Tom Felton in “Half-Blood Prince.” Those performances looked like mere soap opera stand-ins compared to Rickman in “Deathly Hallows.”

Now on to everything else:

The music was phenomenal, something I’ve never said about the Potter movies since John Williams quit after “Azkaban.” Effects-wise, they’re just as sharp as the last seven films. I haven’t seen the film in 3-d yet, but I hear from reliable sources that the techniques used are not novelty-styled like “Journey to the Center of the Earth” or any other gimmicky 3-d pictures; one friend said that they were very similar to the 3-d James Cameron used on “Avatar.” I can’t promise anything, since I haven’t had the experience yet, but I have a feeling that director David Yates was smart.

For those worrying about the epilogue, in which Harry and his cohorts have aged 19 years, it is done with grace but isn’t entirely believable. They used the same actors and the makeup is somewhat impressive, but I believe that if they were able to make Alan Rickman look 20 years younger earlier in the picture they should have been able to make Radcliffe and friends 19 years older. It’s still beautifully acted and fairly accurate; although Harry’s final conversation with his son is cut down a bit.

The most important part for many viewers, however, is the loyalty Steve Kloves (screenwriter) pays to Rowling’s storytelling. Coming from someone who read the second half of the book the day of the midnight show, I can tell you that the rare discrepancies from the story were actually not half bad. True, Harry never grabbed Voldemort in what anti-Potter jerks call “a loving embrace” and pull him off the tower, but that scene captured what 10 pages of the book told us in just a few epic seconds.

The final installment of the Harry Potter film series is definitely that: the final installment. Steve Kloves and David Yates don’t let you forget it, either. Before leaving Dumbledore and King’s Cross, Harry asks him if the after-death state he’s in is real or just all in his mind. The wizened spirit replies, “Well, of course it is. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be real.” This is the line that epitomizes the entire series for me and so many other readers. Harry Potter and Hogwarts doesn’t exist, and if I try running through to Platform 9 3/4, I’ll likely end up with a concussion instead of an education in magic. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real; it’s very real for all of us, and even though the films are over, it will continue being a huge part of our literary and cinematic lives.

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