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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 doesn’t meet expectations

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - Theater Review
Release Date: 07/15/2011 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 2 Clacks

Harry Potter fans have been waiting for this moment for years. Not since the release of the 'Deathly Hallows' book has the Potter hype machine been in this particular state of overdrive. Unfortunately, the last movie installment in the franchise doesn't live up.

Ten years in the making, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has an incredible amount of hype to live up to. Three young stars, four directors, seven books, and eight years should add up to one hell of a ride. With so many important notes to hit, story threads to wrap up, and one hellacious final battle, the stakes were very, very high for the final installment of the franchise? Did David Yates and team meet the challenge? To put it simply: No, not so much.

As I haven’t been writing about movies long, I almost feel like I have to throw out my Harry Potter credentials before I go any farther. I’ve read the books, seen each of the movies opening night (except for Deathly Hallows Part 1, as I was hanging out at a private party in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando). I do not have a costume or anything hanging up in my closet, but I might just have a branded scarf laying around somewhere. So what kind of fan am I? I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about, but I can’t quote passages of text from the books or anything.

That out of the way, I will say that this will be a universally popular film. Pretty much everything that that fans are expecting to see is in there. Mrs. Weasley will expand her vocabulary, Neville Longbottom will be a hero, a hated foe will be redeemed and, 19 years in the future, a new generation will board a train. Do things happen exactly as they did in the book? No, but, as we’ve learned along the way, that isn’t always a bad thing.

The problem with all of that popularity is that Deathly Hallows Part 2 really isn’t that good of a movie. The pacing is inconsistent and plodding, and the movie suffers horribly because of it. It feels like we shuffle from action set piece to exposition sequence to memorable moment from the books with no rhythm, no sense of when something important is happening, or when it is just a slow transition to the next scene.

When battles at Hogwarts, large and small, were excised from previous movies, the most logical explanation was to avoid repeating similar set pieces. Who knew that, in actuality, David Yates just can’t direct action? At least when Michael Bay loses track of characters during the narrative of an action set piece, we will call that “Just another Transformers movie,” and it will look really cool. It is almost like Yates attempted (poorly) to imitate Bay. Luna shows back up at Hogwarts … after we see Harry, Ron, and Hermione sneak in the only passage left open. At one point in the battle, Harry is running amongst a crowd, and then suddenly is alone. There are slow motion sequences that last far longer than they ever should.

Those moments I mentioned earlier? They almost feel tacked on to the narrative as a whole.  One of my favorite moments from the book is Molly Weasley’s duel with Bellatrix Lestrange. Where I always imagined this would play out in the midst of a battle, with both of the relevant Weasleys fighting off Death Eaters on all sides, instead it was staged almost in a corner, and comes across almost as wooden as the wands in the ladies hands. It is a shame, because (pop) culturally, that was a big moment, just because it was so out of character for the Weasley matriarch.

Believe it or not, it is difficult for me to criticize the movie. I really wanted to like it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I were one of the few people on the planet that doesn’t. But I’m not going to give a free pass to some really poor decisions just because it is the last installment, and it hit several of the notes right. More than several notes, for what it is wroth. That is why, on the whole, people are going to like it. I just wish I could have been one of them.

*Want a second opinion on the film? Check out An Nicholson‘s review, Harry Potter: End of an Era!


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

13 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 doesn’t meet expectations”

July 14, 2011 at 12:57 PM

I have not yet seen the movie, but I will never forgive you for this review.

July 14, 2011 at 1:18 PM

. . . . .

I think Ivey has a “tab” when it comes to that, Bob

July 14, 2011 at 1:21 PM

. . . . .

So … serious question: Stick with the books?

July 15, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Yes. Sometime around book 3-4 the get VERY good. Four is, in many ways, my favorite book.

July 14, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Don’t worry Dorv, you aren’t alone in hating the movies. They don’t do the books justice. I’m not expecting much, but I am still going to go see it tomorrow.

July 14, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Phil… Didn’t have the movies in general, just this one. And I don’t know if I hated it. Just think they (and by “they” I mean the director) dropped the ball many times.

July 14, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I will say this. There were a ridiculous number of (small) Star Wars homages, that I don’t even think were intentional.

July 15, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Thank you! I noticed them too! And the Raiders of the Lost Ark “Give me the idol, I give you the whip” moment!

July 15, 2011 at 5:12 AM

For me, what they got right, they got REALLY right. However, what they messed up was blatant.

July 15, 2011 at 10:53 AM

See, what did they get right? There were a couple of good character moments, to be sure, and they went through the motions and hit the “big moments.”

Just showing certain sequences and moments from the book that were important does not get them a pass in my book. I look at the Bellatrix/Molly scene again, and think about what this movie could have been, but was not.

July 16, 2011 at 10:58 PM

The things I felt were strongest in the movie were the parts not explicitly described in the book, such as Snape with Lily’s body, or Harry and the Grey Lady’s conversation (the dialogue differed significantly from the books but I was most impressed with the sense of the Grey Lady’s character we got). Those were the moments where they weren’t trying to rush through a significant piece of the book and actually allowed the pacing to fit the emotion they were trying to build. I thought that almost all the significantly emotional parts of the books were rushed through because the director was simply trying to fit in the major plot points.

July 15, 2011 at 1:55 PM

I super agree. you are absolutely correct!

July 15, 2011 at 3:09 PM

I definitely agree with your review. Though I consider myself a devoted fan, I was a little.disappointed. though I’m very glad they at least kept in the bellatrix/molly fight, I agree it should have been better executed. I really wish they would have stuck to Ron and Hermiones kiss the way it was in the book. And, most importantly, I really wish they would have shown freds death scene. It was so great in the book… and i feel the epilogue was poorly done. Only one of the children’s names were mentioned, we don’t see little Scorpius, and there isn’t even the mention of Remus and Tonks’s son, let alone Bill and Fleurs daughter. Overall, kind of disappointed I sat through (and payer for) a 2day HP marathon just to see that.

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