It’s all come to a close now, and the only thing left is the final port in the list of increasingly purposeless reviews. As fans the world over reflect on the end of an era, and the amazing, ten-year journey they’ve been a part of, I can’t help but focus on the collective word count that has been dedicated to the franchise, none of which made a lick of difference to anyone.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 manages a strange counterpoint to Part 1, being something of a headlong race through action scenes and general intensity, whereas Part 1 was largely a test of your ability to stay awake. The most interesting note there is simply the fallacy that smashing together extremes somehow balances out in the end.
Part 1 needed something to happen, whether anything happened in the book or not, and Part 2 needed less to happen, and to move more slowly through most of what it had.
We jump in where only true-believers and the recently refreshed will remember leaving off (sort of), and that’s in a small shanty by the sea. A small band of good guys are now with the dynamic trio, and they’ve got a goblin. The first point on the agenda is breaking into Gringott’s to find out if Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault contains one of the Horcruxes.
Here comes a wild ride on the vault carts we’ve seen before, a run in with a dragon, and several other elements that are bound to make many absent-mindedly fidget with the video game controllers they aren’t actually holding. On the other hand, kudos to Helena Bonham Carter‘s short stint as Hermoine Polyjuiced as Bellatrix.
As events unfold, Harry’s connection to Voldemort becomes stronger, and harder for him to control, which works out well, because there doesn’t seem any other way that we were going to find out where the other Horcruxes were, and Harry discovers that one of them is at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, Voldemort learns that Harry has returned, and his dark army surrounds the place. Fabulous battles ensue, tides turn, Voldemort can’t quite work out why his fantastically all-powerful wand is somewhat on the blink, and Harry is forced to revisit that pesky prophecy that suggests that for Voldemort to die, Harry must as well.
If there is any ultimate point (or redeeming quality) for the franchise, beyond a bit of fluffy fun for those of the appropriate age, it is by way of the “Snape revelation,” and Harry’s reaction to it. That, and the massive, multi-book lead-in to the single line – “Of course, it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean that it’s not real?”
The second of these is delivered rather brilliantly in the film, though in a way that perhaps does not have Dumbledore pausing long enough, or cocking his head and raising his eyebrow at Harry enough, but the second is all but lost in the sea of film translation. Though our trip through Snape’s memories is given upwards of two minutes on screen, there is no power behind it, and you’re hard-pressed to get anything out of the adventure, beyond the dull addition of checks to Harry’s to-do list.
If you got anything of the richness and complexity of character and story that come about as a result of deconstructing Snape, and reworking him in your mind as what he has done, and who he is, comes to light, you really brought it with you. That’s not an entirely unforgivable direction, but something has gone wrong when the action of the film leaves Harry no chance to actually give anything to the audience. Sure, we stare at him as he sits on a step for a few seconds, but if not for him calling Snape brave at the very end of the film, we might have thought he had no better ability to make out the point than we did.
Deathly Hallows 2 gives a decent effort in a lot of ways, and it soars far beyond Part 1 for entertainment value, but the end of such a massive adventure is where you want some of that slowness from Part 1 to creep in. Our wizards wander into their couples, Ron with Hermione, Harry with Ginny, but the audience only gets the occasional awkward kiss and the sudden appearance of children. Longbottom wins through to massive heroism, but the scene of his speech is bizarre, and serves mostly to showcase the curious fact that Voldemort is tremendously stupid (insofar as people are giving speeches and/or lolling about listening to them, as opposed to say… bleeding profusely, running for their lives, etc.).
Ultimately, Part 1 drags on for miles, only to be followed by something that feels like a Cliff’s Notes version wrap-up. It is an enjoyable effort, but it is the kind of effort that spends several minutes staring at dragons and various magical gobbledygook, just to get the chance to whip out a bunch of things that have to be included. They kiss. He’s dead. Pow. Bang. Zoom.
The trouble with the franchise, books and film, is that it thinks it can grow up with its readers, and now that Harry is “adult,” we have, by way of some special magic, created something that is “for adults.” That leaves us with a story and a telling that is fighting against itself, and is fun, but rather hollow. The first few movies were really pretty good, almost despite themselves (except Prisoner of Azkaban, which was brilliant), because they knew what they were, and were content to revel in it. These last two films know what they are as well, they’re just wrong.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (cinemablend.com)
- ‘Harry Potter’: Can ‘Deathly Hallows – Part 2′ snag a Best Picture nomination? (insidemovies.ew.com)