daniel cohen brings the series to a close …
Plot: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is closer to destroying Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) last few horcuxes, pieces of his fragmented soul. The battle soon rages to Hogwarts, with the fate of the Wizarding World hanging in the balance.
I wish I could sit here and tell you that Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final chapter in the most successful movie franchise of all time, lived up to my expectations. While it failed to meet them, make no mistake: This is still a great ride.
The acting all around in this film is spectacular. The trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson (Hermione), and Rupert Grint (Ron) own these roles. I actually thought they were more compelling in the previous movie, but they were given more acting opportunities there. Here, they are mostly just running around Hogwarts battling everything in site. And the characters are just absolute bad asses at this point. They rip through Death Eaters like Ninja Turtles rip through Foot Soldiers.
The two actors who steal the show though are Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall and Alan Rickman as Snape. It’s not a huge role for McGonagall, but when she’s on screen, Smith is a commanding presence. Alan Rickman as Snape is simply incredible. This is Oscar worthy performance type stuff. He’s always been my favorite character, but he shows a different side to the character we’ve never seen before. This really should have been called Snape: The Movie. Everything involving Snape was flawlessly executed. One of Rickman’s final moments in the film is easily the best scene in the movie, brilliantly directed by David Yates.
And then there’s Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. This is where the disappointment comes into play. Throughout the series, Fiennes always gave an A+ performance, especially in the last film. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of moments where Fiennes is his usual brilliant self. At one point he’s so frustrated and weak that he randomly kills one of his henchmen. But there are other times where he felt like the Joker, and not the Heath Ledger Joker, the Jack Nicholson Joker. He just had this laugh and smile that bordered on campy. It’s an extremely inconsistent performance, and the blame has to go to the director.
David Yates also drops the ball on the last fifteen minutes. The final confrontation just doesn’t work. And this is why I ultimately left the theater frustrated. It plays out almost like a Saturday morning cartoon, especially with all these goofy close-ups of Voldemort. The action isn’t directed as well as Yates’ previous efforts in the series. It repeats stuff we’ve seen a hundred times. And without spoiling anything, there should only be one battle we’re focused on, but there’s something else going on with Voldemort’s snake that is way too distracting. I hate to do it, but this is one of those instances where the writer (Steven Kloves) and director should have stayed closer to the source material. They wanted to draw out the finale, and I totally get that, but the way it was executed felt silly when it should have been dramatic and heart pounding.
And there’s just too much talking during the climax. I would have loved the emotional moments to play out more visually. Especially with the character of Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) who makes this big speech towards the end, but it could have been a lot more powerful if he just expressed it with his actions.
In the aftermath of this huge battle, everything seemed to wrap up kind of fast. It felt a little rushed, whereas I would have liked to of seen more reflection on everything that just transpired. But everyone is just like…’Well, I guess that’s it.’
The humor works for the most part. There are a lot of classic moments between Ron and Hermione. But a lot of the time, humor is used at very inappropriate moments. One that really got me was when Harry walks into the Great Hall and surveys everyone going through the dead bodies. He walks by Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) who simply says ‘Harry’ as he looks flustered. Knowing the character, his voice, and what he was like from his last appearance in Half-Blood Prince, the director should have known this would come off as comical. This is supposed to be a heart-breaking awakening for Harry, but it set a bad tone for the rest of the scene.
When it’s all said and done, there’s too much greatness in this movie to not walk out feeling elated. There are still a lot of plot points that simply don’t get explained. You really have to read the series to fully understand everything, and it shouldn’t be that way. But these were minor issues. We get the big battle throughout Hogwarts the trailer promised us (although I thought it would be a little bit more), you get the emotional impact the series deserved after eight movies, and there’s also one truly disturbing image towards the end that sums up one of the characters perfectly.
The producers, writers, directors, actors, and everyone who worked on this franchise should be proud. While some may be better then others, to achieve eight movies of quality in the span of 10 years is pretty damn impressive. While I was expecting something really special with this last one, the series as a whole is still one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)