Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Review

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 2 HRS, 10 MIN

Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Warwick Davis, Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, and Robbie Coltrane

Film Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

“It all ends here.”  That’s how the marketing boys have been advertising Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It’s been almost ten years since Harry Potter first landed in theaters and now after seven films, 17+ hours, and almost 6.5 billion dollars the final Potter film is finally coming out.  I’m sorry to say that even though this has been highly touted as possibly the greatest Potter film yet I was left feeling severely underwhelmed.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 starts immediately following the events of Part 1 showing Voldemort taking Dumbledore’s wand and Harry & Co. arriving at Shell Cottage after escaping Malfoy Manor with Dobby the House Elf.  After a quick trip to Gringotts (The Wizard’s Bank) Harry, Ron, and Hermione finally make their way back to Hogwarts and the battle begins.  After a lengthy battle between the forces of good and evil there’s a climatic showdown between “The Chosen One” Harry Potter and “He Who Must Not Be Named” Lord Voldemort, one lives and one dies.  Then the credits roll and the Harry Potter series is finished.  If you think that sounds overly simplistic you’d only be partially correct because there’s a little more to the story than that but not much.

Before I get into what I think the films problems are, I’d like to discuss it’s strengths.  Performance wise Deathly Hallows is outstanding, Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, and Michael Gambon all put in fine performances.  Daniel Radcliffe elevates his performance past what he had done in previous films and is equal in this film to actors many years his senior.  Working with such strong actors for the past 10 years has obviously prepared him well for this moment.  I’m still not sure what route his acting career will take now that his Potter days are over. I don’t think anyone will say that he’s not capable of confidently carrying a film on his shoulders.  A few other performances stick out including those of Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Matthew Lewis, and Warwick Davis (in dual roles no less).  The special effects as always are top notch and the sound design is one of the best I’ve heard in recent memory.  The score by Alexandre Desplat matches his great earlier work in the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and he works in John Williams themes from the Sorcerer’s Stone seamlessly.  Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves are able to put together some highly entertaining and riveting sequences that had me gripping my armrest tightly from start to finish.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good times end in my eyes.  Like I said earlier there are some superb performances from the main cast but none of the supporting characters get any chance to shine.  Now, when I say the character’s didn’t get a chance to shine I mean many of them don’t more than one or two lines if they even got a line at all.  After seeing these characters grow and develop over the course of eight films it would have been nice to have been able to send them off with a little more fanfare than they actually received.  As far as pacing is concerned the film moves at breakneck speed and it feels like you’re getting the cliff notes version of Deathly Hallows.  Of course that relates some to Part 2′s runtime which has been a source of some soreness with Potter fans. Part 2′s runtime is 130 minutes which is the shortest film in the entire series.  I know the events of Deathly Hallows Part 2 only covers the last third of the book but if there was a film that should have been allowed a little bit of extra time to give characters proper final sendoffs it should have been this one.  I’ve heard director David Yates and producer David Heymen talk about how the runtime is appropriate for the amount of story left to tell but I think that’s bullshit.  My theory is that Warner Brothers wanted a film that would have a runtime that would maximize the amount of showings a theater could show the film per day.  Competition is so fierce during the summer that if you’re a studio executive you want your movie to get the maximum amount of showings and a 2 hour, 10 minute film can show more times a day than a 2 hour, 40 minute film.  Am I being a little overly cynical about the reason for short runtime?  Possibly but ask yourself something, would you feel slightly putout if the film gets the “extended cut” treatment when it hits DVD and Blu-ray later this year? I can’t help but think that’s coming and if it adds back in the small character moments or the scenes that give certain characters some closure or in some cases an actual death of a character instead of leaving the issue of their fate ambiguous I’m going to be disappointed that I was denied the chance to see that in the theater because WB was more interested in their bottom line than making a good final product.

My second major complaint concerns Deathly Hallows being released in 3D.  Part 2 was not filmed in 3D, it was shot in 2D and was converted to 3D in post production.  That procedure has been successful in some films and complete failures in others.  My issue with the use of the 3D has nothing to do with the actual 3D effect, honestly it’s very good and it appears that a lot of care has been taken to make 3D look as good as it can.  There’s a lot riding on Harry Potter’s shoulders right now, 3D is experiencing a lot of backlash and people are now wondering if it’s here to stay or just another example of 3D being a passing fad.  Transformers Dark of the Moon has certainly helped 3D regain some momentum but a successful Potter film in 3D would be a big help to calm some fears.  As I said earlier the 3D is well done and there are some really great shots illustrating how effective 3D can be when implemented correctly so my gripe isn’t with the use of 3D in general.  There are parts of Deathly Hallows Part 2 that exemplifies everything that I dislike about 3D.  I realize that some of you are relative Potter newcomers and some of you have undoubtedly read the books more than once but try to answer me this simple question:

How many times has someone exploded in the Harry Potter films or book?  Really, imagine someone puts an explosive in someones stomach and blows them up from the inside.  How many times has someone disintegrated flake by flake?  I bet the answer to that question is… Never.

Well prepare yourself folks you’re going to see some of that in this film.  Why?  What’s changed from the last seven films to this one that would make filmmakers to decide, all of the sudden to start blowing up and disintegrating people?   3D HAPPENED!  Now to impress audiences the Potter filmmakers have decided to pander to audience expectations and throw in a bunch of gimmicky horse shit 3D effects so everyone can see peoples “body parts” come at you through the screen.  I’m sorry but that’s shit, absolute bullshit.  It’s unnecessary and cheap and looks like something out of Resident Evil Afterlife not a Harry Potter film.  I was really hoping that Deathly Hallows Part 2 would be able to maintain the integrity of the franchise by taking the high road in regard to 3D by using it like a scalpel and not a broadsword.  The gimmicky 3D might not bother everyone like it bothered me but I feel consistency is important and I don’t think the addition of 3D should affect the look of the franchise or the decisions made on how to present the film.  3D should enhance the visuals subtly and not stick out like a sore thumb.

Coming at you in 3D!!!!!

I don’t want you to get the impression that I hate Harry Potter Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 because I don’t.  Am I immensely disappointed in the film because of how high my expectations were?  Absolutely. Not only was I saddened by the fact that the Harry Potter film series was finally over but I was also sad to see it end on such a low point.  There are some positive things to take away from the film; when given the chance everyone put in great performance, the special effects & sound design are top of the line, the film’s score is wonderful, and when the filmmakers aren’t too tied up with keeping the runtime short and adding gimmicky 3D effects the film can be quite engaging.  Sadly those last two things (the runtime & 3D) derailed what could have and should have been Harry Potter’s finest cinematic moment.  Instead I’m left wondering what could have been.

I give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 a lukewarm recommendation.


For anyone that’s interested, Movies Hate You Too is giving away an official Harry Potter and the Deathly Part 1 T-Shirt given away at the Sneak Peak I attended.  All you have to do to enter is click “LIKE” on the Movies Hate You Too Facebook page or Follow Us on Twitter @MoviesHateUToo.  You can enter either way or both ways, if you choose to follow us both ways you get two entries which doubles your chances to win!  The T-shirt is rather ugly and I can’t imagine anyone wearing it out in public but a free T-shirt is a free T-shirt so take it or leave.  The T-shirt is size Large so if any fat bodies like myself win you might as well just give it away too since you’re not going to have any chance of fitting into it.  This contest ends on Sunday, July 31, 2011 at 11:59 PM ET.

Imagine how “cool” you’d look wearing this.
Thankfully the back is a little more understated.

Written by

Nicholas Herum