Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part Two (2011)

Did you honestly think for one moment that I would not be going to watch the eighth film in the most successful franchise of all time on the big screen?  We were having lunch down West yesterday and decided to pop over to the Warner's flagship cinema for the afternoon showing.  The line for tickets wasn't enormous, but it seemed to be moving at a snail's pace and when we got to the front, we discovered that they were charging the best part of £20 per ticket -- 3D glasses extra!  So we turned tail and went to our local multiplex just in time for one of their multiple screenings of the day.  They weren't exactly giving the tickets away (and the auditorium wasn't exactly full), but I felt better at not over-contributing  to Warner's already enormous profits.  Yes, the films have been a moneyspinner for all concerned; I don't begrudge this, since they have given so much pleasure to so many -- and not just those children in the age range that grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

However, you probably don't wish to know any of the above, but rather what I thought of the movie.  I have been a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the series and had read all of the books before watching the films, which is just as well, since I think any non-believer coming to this last film cold would be lost trying to follow much of the action.  It is still a slam-bang production, full of imaginative sequences, which could entertain the casual viewer, but much of the nuances of the saga would be lost .  As is, bringing the final story to the screen did scrimp on some of the storytelling.  Even being familiar with the book, I could not recall the relevance of the new ghostly character played by Kelly Macdonald.  In particular, I felt that the sad, true story behind Alan Rickman's villainry as Severus Snape was muddled in its presentation, leaving the viewer to wonder why Harry would name a future son after him or claim that he was the bravest man he ever knew.  Rickman has been one of the many continuing treats of the series (along with Maggie Smith) and his fate just didn't have the impact or gravity that one would have hoped.  Similarly disposing of arch-villains Helena Bonham-Carter and Ralph Fiennes by having them appear to dissolve into a cloud of confetti seemed anticlimactic after pitched confrontations.  The deaths of some of the other much-loved characters during the Battle of Hogwarts were skimmed over and  not given the respect due them.

Still this final film is a vast improvement on Part One of the Deathly Hallows which was too leisurely by half.  Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have produced an action-laden finale for the fans and have made certain that nearly all of the beloved characters from over the years are given their brief curtain calls.  The only character who is actually given more to do in this final film is Matthew Lewis, who has been playing inept sidekick Neville Longbottom in a fatsuit for some years, but who emerges as one of Hogwarts' truest heroes in this installment.  As for the trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, they continue to be likeable and have grown into their roles without any problems; however, they are still a little light on thespian talent.  It  will be fascinating to discover where their respective careers go from here. All of them are so financially secure that they would need a deep love of the profession to persevere with acting and to fight the fact that they will probably be forever typecast.  By the way, the long-awaited first kiss between Ron and Hermione, coyly shot from behind his back, comes across as a definite non-event here.

I suppose I should comment on the 3D technology, which was fine, but which didn't really add to the film's entertainment value in any meaningful way.  The movie would have been just as satisfying to its fans in the 2D version.  The eight Potter films may be the biggest financial success of all time, but this has not been reflected in Oscar nominations or wins.  Of course there is the legacy of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy where all of the possible awards were garnered by the last film in the series.  Despite some probable nominations, I would be very surprised to see this movie following suit as Best Picture, etc. Award-laden or not, many of us have enjoyed this saga of the "boy who lived" and will miss his adventures, his friends, his teachers, and his many acquaintances.  The series may have gone out with a bang, but it will not be easily forgotten.
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