Friday, July 15, 2011

Wizard Week Movie Review: End of an Era

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie poster, image property of Warner Bros.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 AWESOME!

Sometime towards the end of 1999 I found myself looking at books that were being sold at the Book Fair in the school library.  I was 13 years old and in eighth grade.  For my first hour class I would go and help out in a second grade classroom at the nearby elementary school.  We had taken the kids to look at the books, and that’s when I spotted J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time.  I bought it.  I read it.  I loved it.

To this day I’m not really sure what made me buy it in the first place.  It wasn’t exactly my proper reading level.  And where did I get the money?  I guess I’ll never know.  But for some reason I did, and I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan ever since.  I loved the blending of fantasy with reality.  I loved the quirky characters, strange locales, and the mystery of it all.  I loved the surprise twist at the end of every book!  I was sure Snape was the bad guy, I never dreamed that Ginny would have opened the Chamber of Secrets, and who wasn’t thoroughly convinced Sirius was a murderer?

For the past ten years we’ve been treated to a new Harry Potter film almost annually.  Ten years is a long time.  When the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first came out in November of 2001, I was fifteen years old.  I was a sophomore in high school.  I saw Prisoner of Azkaban the summer after I graduated, the fourth and fifth installments were released while I was on a mission in Chile, and just last night I found myself in my mid-twenties—with a job and a fiancĂ©—watching the final half of the final film.   I marvel at just how much of my lifespan has been experienced with Harry by my side.

But after the much-anticipated movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was over and the credits were rolling, I was left with a very odd feeling.  Why wasn’t I beaming with sheer joy??  Why wasn’t I screaming my excitement from the rooftops??  I have been obsessing over the movie for a full week on this blog, and yet there I was, riding home from the theater in Salt Lake City, filled with such a melancholy that I feared that perhaps I hated the movie. 

But in reality it was a very good movie.  I just wanted more somehow.

The movie was over all too quickly, partly because it was the shortest Potter film yet (only 130 minutes) and partly because it had a very quick pace.  It also didn’t feel like a complete movie, which I had to remind myself was because it isn’t a complete movie.  Part 2 is the exciting climax that Part 1 was leading up to.  I feel like if I had seen both parts all together, as one cohesive story, I would have left the theater feeling more fulfilled.

However, looking back on it, I feel like the movie got a lot of things right.  The Battle of Hogwarts was done very well, with spells both beautiful and terrifying.  People were dying, heroes were made, and the stakes definitely felt at their highest.  While war was raging all around them, the trio had to find and destroy the last of the horcruxes.  Then Harry ultimately had to confront his fate.

Daniel Radcliffe was on the top of his game as far as acting is concerned.  I thought Harry’s decision to die was handled very well, as was the otherworldly scene in King’s Cross.  The only thing that bothered me a little was his final battle with Voldemort.  I just felt like it was a bit anticlimactic.  Some details were changed from the book, but I’m not necessarily mad at that.  I just don’t understand how simply disarming Voldemort caused him to crumble away like he did.

Alan Rickman’s performance as Snape was hands down the best he’s ever done.  Snape’s death was tragic to see, and I really thought there was a good connection between him and Harry during those final moments of life.  Even before seeing the memories in the Pensieve, I felt like Snape and Harry came to an understanding.  The flashbacks that showed us the full complexity of Snape—his love for Harry’s mother and his true allegiance to Dumbledore—were very moving and in my opinion, artfully done.  Seeing Snape weep over Lily’s dead body was one of the saddest things I have seen onscreen in a long time.

The score by Alexandre Desplat was very good, and I was grateful that he used so much of John Williams’ original score.  Since this movie was like the final bow for all of the characters we’ve come to love, it was very nostalgic to hear bits of “Hedwig’s Theme” and even “Harry’s Theme” which we haven’t heard in a Potter film for many, many years. 

I also thoroughly enjoyed the epilogue, where we were able to see that peace and order has been restored to the wizarding world.  The now grown-up Harry giving words of comfort to his own son was lovely, and I was impressed with the makeup and costuming.  They really did look nineteen years older.

Now, back to the odd numbness I felt after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ended:  It wasn’t about the movie necessarily.  The movie was everything it could have been and more.  I guess I just expected the end of an era to feel more earth-shattering or life-altering or important.  But in the end, it was just me sitting in a dark movie theater.  It was just the close of a book.

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1 comment:

Penelope Lolohea said...

This is such a great review! So heartfelt and true. I felt the same way about part 2.

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