Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Movie Review: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Part Two (2011) (spoilers)

Saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2last night.  Here's my review:

The Good

I liked how we saw more of the actual Battle of Hogwarts than we did in the book.  The scene where Voldemort used the giants to batter through the statue-guardsmen defending the bridge into Hogwarts shows tactical acumen on his part--he's using his toughest units for the job.  Plus, given his attitudes, I imagine he'd prefer to use giants to pureblood wizards for meat-grinder tasks.

The importance of the Elder Wand is highlighted by it being necessary to break the magical energy shields defending Hogwarts from bombardment.  The Death Eaters are attacking Hogwarts using ordinary curses like a multiple-rocket launcher (firing in arcs toward the target en mass) without success and then Voldemort busts out the Elder Wand and cracks the shields.

I also liked "let's finish this together" when Harry throws himself and Voldemort off one of the towers in Hogwarts.

The escape of the abused guard-dragon from Gringott's was well-done.

Although some people really objected to this, I didn't dislike seeing the actors who played Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Draco "up-aged" for the epilogue set 19 years later.  Wizards in the books have longer life-spans than Muggles (Dumbledore was either 114 or 140 when he died and he was able to defeat multiple Death Eaters and duel Voldemort a year before), so them looking younger than ordinary 36-year-olds actually makes sense.

I liked how Harry decided, upon learning he was the Elder Wand's new master, to simply break it and throw it away.  With the Elder Wand gone, even if someone were able to find the Resurrection Stone and steal the Invisibility Cloak from Harry or his heirs, there will be no Master of Death.

I also liked how, when Professor Flitwick referred to Voldemort as "You Know Who," Professor McGonagall flat-out says "his name is Voldemort" and then tells Flitwick that Voldemort will try to kill him regardless of what name he uses.  That was awesome.

Harry's dialogue with the Gray Lady (the ghost of the daughter of Hogwarts founder Rowena Ravenclaw) was well-done.  The part where Helena Ravenclaw flips out about how the young Voldemort defiled her mother's diadem with dark magic was cool.

Hermione and Ron's kiss, although rather different from the books, was very well-done.

On a general note, the film was never boring.

The Bad

This is a general comment, but a lot of important stuff was abbreviated. 

*Snape's back-story particularly suffered from this.  We only see a very limited amount of James Potter's bullying of Snape--Snape borderline-psychotically venting on James years later ("your father was a SWINE!") is rather pathetic if Lily were the sole issue, but if James had treated Snape badly from the beginning of their Hogwarts years (as he did in the book), that's something else.  We also don't see Snape's growing association with the Death Eater wannabe kids and how their views rubbed off on him to the point he referred to his best friend/love interest using the wizarding version of the N-word when, years before, he said being a Muggle-born didn't matter.  Although we do see Dumbledore telling Snape to kill him so Voldemort will trust him unconditionally, we don't see the line about why that's important--Dumbledore believed Voldemort would assume control of Hogwarts and wanted Snape to protect the students from the Dark Lord's excesses.

*Although Harry makes a reference to Lupin's son in the "death march" scene, we never actually see him.  Fans who've read the books might pick up on Tonks' near-announcement of her pregnancy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, but not many others would.

Some of McGonagall's lines during the lead up to the Death Eater assault seemed to conflict with the dignity of her character.  When she sends the castle's statue guardsmen out to fight, she gets borderline-giggly and says she always wanted to use that spell.  Not cool.

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the teen Snape was played by Alec Hopkins.  They should have had him playing Snape when he defected to Dumbledore and later when we see him cradling Lily's body rather than Alan Rickman made to look younger.  Alan Rickman is in his 50s or 60s--having him playing a 20-something came off as a bit ridiculous.  Hopkins is 25, so him playing Snape (who would have been around 21 at the time) would be appropriate.

What exactly was Snape doing at Godric's Hollow?  He shows up soon after Voldemort's death and cradles Lily's body while crying.  I can understand why he'd be upset, but how he learned about this is never explained.

I didn't like how McGonagall retaliated against the entire Slytherin House when Pansy Parkinson advocated turning Harry over to Voldemort after Snape was driven out of Hogwarts.  McGonagall is supposed to be tough, but fair.  In the books, she gave Slytherin a choice as to whose side they would be on and all of them, including the cowardly Head of House Horace Slughorn if I remember right, marched out of the castle.  However, Slughorn later returned with reinforcements and although it's not expressed very clearly, Slytherin students could have returned with him.

I think it would have been better if we'd seen even more of the Death Eater attack on Hogwarts intercut with Harry's search for the diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw.  It'd be a means of building suspense, plus we could give characters like Lupin, Tonks, and Fred on-screen deaths.  Rowling said Bellatrix killed Tonks and Dolohov (who the Trio could have killed earler but did not) killed Lupin and it would have been good to see this.

In the "19 years later" scene, adult-Ginny's hairstyle was kind of goofy looking.

The Verdict

A good movie, although it could have been better.  8.0 out of 10.

This review was also posted at the Dudeletter: http://www.dudeletter.com/?p=955

1 comment:

  1. I really liked how they did the battle. I think battles are much better on screen than in books, generally, as it's hard to write what everyone is doing in battle. Showing other characters and what they were doing besides just Harry was nice. I liked that it actually showed Ron and Hermione going down into the Chamber of Secrets to destroy the cup, instead of just disappearing and telling Harry after the fact.

    Ron and Hermione had a better kiss than Harry and Ginny ever did in the movies. It was pretty hot!

    I thought the acting was top-notch, especially Alan Rickman. I've been waiting to see how they would show Snape with emotion in the films, and I was not disappointed. I loved how they did The Prince's Tale, and I actually preferred his death scene in the movie to the book. I only wish they had included the cut scene from Snape's Worst Memory, showing the break up of the friendship.

    I think that, despite his age, Rickman is just too good as Snape not to use, even when he's supposed to be younger. Lily and James don't look 21 in the films when they die, more like 35-40. Maybe Harry's parents' generation is supposed to be 30-40 years older than him in the films instead of only 20 years? All the actors are older than their characters by quite a few years, but I'd rather have a good actor than one who looks more the part age-wise, as is the case with Snape. We really don't know how good of an actor Alec Hopkins even is. He didn't even get any lines in Order of the Phoenix.

    To help support this view that Harry's parents may have been older when they died in the films, their gravestones are really hard to read where their death dates are, suggesting maybe they didn't die in 1981. You can see that they were born in 1960, though. The films seem to take place during the current day, not in the 1990s, so maybe everything has been pushed back ten years?

    I would have liked to have seen Dumbledore's portrait at some point, as well as the deaths of Fred, Tonks, and Lupin played out.

    I loved how Voldemort and Bellatrix died.

    I agree that it was a wise move for Harry to destroy the Elder Wand, but why didn't he first use it to repair his broken wand? Is he going to get a new one or just use Draco's for the rest of his life?