Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (2011)

The Harry Potter phenomenon is a rare one, maybe even unique, for the fact that unlike most others that succeeded greatly on the marketing front (Twilight, Transformers), it is a series that is still, very much based in the fan base of its books. This fan base existed long before the movies were even conceived, let alone marketed and it has remained strong since. As books, they have made a deep connection with a global audience, a feat managed by very few others (Bible, for example). The films were by and large underwhelming. However, the Deathly Hallows Part I proved to be an impressive and satisfying (albeit slow) setup to the grand finale. I had said, when reviewing that film, that its greatness, or lack thereof, would largely depend on its successor. Finally, having seen its successor, it is safe to say the greatness of the former is likely to remain intact for a long time to come. For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II is a great film and easily the finest of the series.

Voldemort (Fiennes) has the Elder Wand. Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson), having buried Dobby, embark on a frantic quest to retrieve and destroy all the Horcruxes before it is too late. This includes breaking into Gringotts, daring escapades with dungeons and dragons and a battle at Hogwarts that will test the will of Harry, his friends and his allies to its maximum limits. For neither can live while the other survives.

In terms of storytelling, the film scores distinction marks. It keeps most of the important elements in the books intact and more significantly, channels its spirit effectively. It is just the right mix of thrills, epic action, humour and pathos. The look of the film is nothing short of spectacular. They really did save the best for last. Wonderful visual effects, dramatic action pieces, a haunting score and some fantastic camera work; no stone is left unturned. The Battle of Hogwarts is conjured up in all its glory and does not disappoint in the least. Creativity oozes out of every orifice of this film. The liberties taken from the source material are excellent. They are more pervasive than in the previous entries and inject into the story a dose of freshness that most of the fans should find endearing. In fact, in a few places, it is actually more coherent and (gulp!) better than the writing in the book. Prof. McGonagall's lines are truly worthy of applause. Also, the film provides more meat to Neville Longbottom's character and provides a star making turn for Matthew Lewis who nails the opportunity and shines.

Flaws? A few. The epilogue looks just as idiotic in the film as it did in the book. Seriously, I do not know what Rowling was on when she wrote it. None of the actors look convincingly old. Nevertheless, that is more a fault of the source material rather than the film itself. The film itself can be faulted for butchering the back story of Dumbledore. Gellert Grindelwald is nowhere to be seen. Random references to it in the beginning will only disappoint the readers and confuse the rest, howsoever few. Also, much of the lore behind the deathly hallows is watered down on a need to use basis, relegating them to the background. However, the only bit that was truly disappointing was the skipping of the most poignant and shocking death in the book and the line that Prof. McGonagall delivers to Prof. Slughorn in the book.

Nevertheless, these are trifles in an otherwise stupendous enterprise. The awkward moments are far fewer here than in Part I. The approach is also much bolder. The greatest moment of the film is its depiction of The Prince's Tale, in my honest opinion, the most powerful and moving chapter in the book, maybe even the series. Once again, liberties are taken, scenes are added and removed. However, the cinematic version is every bit as poignant and sad as the book and stands on its own elevating the film considerably, much like the animated telling of the story of the Deathly Hallows in Part I.

Ultimately, Deathly Hallows Part II is a fitting farewell to the singular greatest phenomenon of our generation. It is magnificent without beng excessive, creative without sacrificing the heart of the tale and unarguably, the best adapted film from the series. To all the fans of Harry Potter, carry a tissue or two. And at the end of it all, raise your glasses to Harry Potter, the boy who lived.

Rating: 4/5

Caution: Watch it in 2D. This is too dark a film, in terms of the colour palette. The 3D experience is most likely to be underwhelming since the film was neither conceived or shot with the intention of being converted to 3D.

4 comments:

  1. Meh. Maybe I like the books too much but I found the plotlines too butchered, and the whole film relied on your grasp of the book to be explicable. The wand bit was not explained well, and it is the crucial part.

    "Prof. McGonagall's lines are truly worthy of applause. Also, the film provides more meat to Neville Longbottom's character" - but she had just One good line ("I've always wanted to use that spell" was adorbs, but apart from that, her best lines were just toned down versions of the book. I feel her most awesome line in the entire series, [when she's surprised that HP would return to Hogwarts and look for Ravenclaw, instead of Gryffindor, and the whole "he belongs to *my* House"], and the whole Harry-loyalty was just not done right.)

    And Neville's soliloquy was SO forced. I'd give it a 2, at most.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think you do like the books too much. No film can transfer all the details that a book can provide. Cinema as a medium just does not allow for it. It has its own strengths and the film plays to those quite well I thought. Also, apart from the Dumbledore subplot, I never felt once in Deathly Hallows Part I and II the need to summon my knowledge of the books to understand the story, which I cannot say for the movie versions of Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire, the two best books in the series. Even the wand bit is explained sufficiently to be comprehensible. I do not deny the book is better. However, the film, I thought, stood on its own convincingly enough.

    McGonagall had a few more lines. The particular proclivity for pyrotechnics line actually made me laugh hard. I even loved it when she told HArry that it was good to see him. It wass't the line itself as much as Maggie Smith's delivery of it.

    Neville, I loved, particularly the portion on the bridge when he challenges the Death Eaters crowd. I also loved the slaying of the snake. And his soliloquy wasn't a particularly great moment, but I had no issues with it either.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, just wanted to say that its an awesome piece of writing. sounds exceedingly heartfelt ;) probably because its the phenomenon of HP. But I honestly thought the whole flying in the air with your mortal enemy bit with Voldemort was unnecessary. And in some scenes Voldemort was over done specifically the one where he confronts Hogwarts with a dead Harry, the script seems to show that he needs recognition or some assurance that he was the one that survived - sort of takes away from his character. And the much awaited Ron Hermione kiss was rather a disaster - circumstances are right but done very badly by the actors.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This movie is the magical, emotional conclusion to the series that defined many childhoods. Yates once again proves his mastery of balancing story, action and magic in this finale of the series. It does not seem like it is a two hour movie, its pace is quick and draws the audience right in. Full of pithy lines, exciting battles and heartbreaking revelations, this movie does the series justice.

    ReplyDelete