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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (Movie-Only Edition + UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
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In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. It all ends here.
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the film all Harry Potter fans have waited 10 years to see, and the good news is that it's worth the hype--visually stunning, action packed, faithful to the book, and mature not just in its themes and emotion but in the acting by its cast, some of whom had spent half their lives making Harry Potter movies. Part 2 cuts right to the chase: Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has stolen the Elder Wand, one of the three objects required to give someone power over death (a.k.a. the Deathly Hallows), with the intent to hunt and kill Harry. Meanwhile, Harry's quest to destroy the rest of the Horcruxes (each containing a bit of Voldemort's soul) leads him first to a thrilling (and hilarious--love that Polyjuice Potion!) trip to Gringotts Bank, then back to Hogwarts, where a spectacular battle pitting the young students and professors (a showcase of the British thesps who have stolen every scene of the series: Maggie Smith's McGonagall, Jim Broadbent's Slughorn, David Thewlis's Lupin) against a dark army of Dementors, ogres, and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter, with far less crazy eyes to make this round). As predicted all throughout the saga, Harry also has his final showdown with Voldemort--neither can live while the other survives--though the physics of that predicament might need a set of crib notes to explain. But while each installment has become progressively grimmer, this finale is the most balanced between light and dark (the dark is quite dark--several familiar characters die, with one significant death particularly grisly); the humor is sprinkled in at the most welcome times, thanks to the deft adaptation by Steve Kloves (who scribed all but one of the films from J.K. Rowling's books) and direction by four-time Potter director David Yates. The climactic kiss between Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), capping off a decade of romantic tension, is perfectly tuned to their idiosyncratic relationship, and Daniel Radcliffe has, over the last decade, certainly proven he was the right kid for the job all along. As Prof. Snape, the most perfect of casting choices in the best-cast franchise of all time, Alan Rickman breaks your heart. Only the epilogue (and the lack of chemistry between Harry and love Ginny Weasley, barely present here) stand a little shaky, but no matter: the most lucrative franchise in movie history to date has just reached its conclusion, and it's done so without losing its soul. --Ellen A. Kim
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What I liked about the movie:
If this isn't obvious, I don't know what is. An orphan wizard, magic spells, and an unknown connection to an evil wizard named Volemort. The movie is easy to follow as a lot of the set up was done in earlier movies. This is a balls to the wall action epic. The final battle between Harry and the wizards against Voldemort and his army. You really must see the previous films to fully appreciate the conclusions in this film. The one thing that is important above all else... above all the explosions and magic and spells is simple... friendship. The story of three best friends and their journey to this epic conclusion is unmatched by any other film I've ever seen. THAT'S ultimately why these movies are so satisfying to so many people. I don't want to say too much more, if you were looking for a plot summary, this review is not the place.
Characters / Actors
As with any great story, there must be great characters. And for 10+ years, the world enjoyed these characters. Rowling has given the world so much. And what this film has been able to do is showcase them all.
I believe the supporting cast must be recognized. The marvelous Ralph Fiennes as the evil Lord Voldemort. Alan Rickman as the mysterious Snape. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. Jason Isaacs and Tom Felton as Lucious and Draco Malfoy. Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom. And the lovely Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall. There are many more. Maybe they weren't showcased for long periods of time, but every hero, every villain and every wizard in between is included in the story.
Then there are the three main characters, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine (Emma Watson) who really shine. Their character development is key to the success of the film. They each go through a transition and grow as a character. It's amazing to think the producers have been able to keep all the same actors in tact for this epic series of films. The best scenes in the movie involve the three best friends. Like I've been saying all week... Harry, Ron and Hermione... I'll miss you.
The theme to Harry Potter was written back when the first film was released, by none other than John Williams. The same brilliant man that brought us the scores to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman and so many more. Alexandre Desplat scored HP and TDH Part 1, so it is fitting that he has returned to score the finale. The score is beautiful. I actually purchased it yesterday and I am listening to it as I type this review.
The emotional weight of the score is vital to the story (you're going to read a lot about the emotional weight of the film in this review). The music alone tells the story. I was chatting with a friend about the film and told her I could discuss the score alone for hours. And I really could. The score was so impressive in relaying the emotion as well has elevating the action. It was was enough to put me on the edge of my seat, literally. And never forgetting the original theme created by Williams, it is weaved into this film as well. Bravo Mr. Desplat.
The Editing / Pacing / Tone
This is something that doesn't get a lot of recognition in Hollywood, but it is so important to a movie like this. If the editing and pacing is off, the entire movie crumbles. You know by now there is a lot of emotion and also action in the movie. How do you work those two together? The editing is key. Mark Day did an amazing job of keeping the film nice and neat. There is no deviating from the plan. For the most part, the film is told in chronological order, and there was a lot to cover. The tone was perfect as well. And I believe it is the marriage of cinematography, editing and score that sets the tone. Great all around!
Really, what the score, editing, pacing and tone all come down to is the work of David Yates. Yates has directed the last four Harry Potter films in the series. And there is a reason for that. He understood the material, he understood the world. The producers of the films understood Yates is a fantastic director. His work on this film proves you could have a huge Summer blockbuster, and still carry the emotional weight of a drama. It was perfectly balanced and Yates is the man to thank.
What I didn't like about the movie:
Ironically, this is the shortest film in series. If only that wasn't the case. I understood Warner Brothers' motivation for splitting the two films in half. But in retrospect, I wouldn't have split the movies where Yates did. I would have included some of Part 1 in Part 2. Just my opinion. Maybe it's because I didn't want it to be over I was enjoying it so much!
Amazing, what all Summer movies should be
We've come to expect explosions and special effects in our Summer movies. But what we are missing in most of those films is the emotional weight to make us care. I know I keep repeating myself, but this movie made us care. We felt invested in these characters and the final outcome of their stories. This all goes back to Rowling and her writing. Without her imagination, none of this comes true. Brilliant, simply brilliant.
While watching some of the special features, the producers refer to the films as a series, NOT a franchise. This is true; the movies are a series spanning 8 films to tell an overall story. It's not a franchise of unrelated events. So to see the 8th and final film combine so much was amazing. There are aspects and remnants of all the prior movies in this film.
It was difficult to say goodbye to all the amazing characters, but the beauty of cinema is this... great stories and great films stay with us, forever. Whether it's E.T. and Elliot's remarkable friendship, or Harry, Ron and Hermione causing trouble... we're reminded, through film, of what it was like to be a kid again. I sat next to a little boy at a sold out screening and was mesmerized by his reaction to the film. He laughed, he cried and he covered his eyes at times. But he was so engaged in the film, it was an awesome sight. Movies like Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 give me hope for the future of cinema.
When a friend one time bemoaned the fact that `Half-Blood Prince' gets bogged down in pointless hormonal teen-angst instead of getting on with the story, I smiled... and shook my head.
No, I said, that IS the story and it's what I love about the Harry Potter series: it never loses track of the characters. It never forgets that, when viewed as a whole, these eight movies are a story of growing up, of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Of love and friendship and death. Because without those little funny and touching moments between the characters - if all you want is for the movies to rush from one plot element to another - then all you're left with is plot... and no story. Remember: plot is what happens TO the characters; story is what happens AS A RESULT of the characters.
That's the real gorgeous beauty of these movies, and it's what will bring viewers back repeatedly to their DVD shelves. As Frodo said to Sam in `The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers': "What are we fighting for Sam?" "That's there's still some good in this world," Sam replies, "and that it's worth fighting for."
That's why you need those little indulgent moments, because without them it's just razzle-dazzle special effects and set-pieces. Harry and Ginny's first kiss: they're in the Room of Requirement and Ginny tells Harry to close his eyes while she hides Professor Snape's copy of Advanced Potion Making. And before Harry opens his eyes Ginny leans forward, kisses him and whispers, "That can stay hidden up here too, if you like." That, my fellow Muggles, is pure movie gold. That's what the characters are fighting for. Love. Yes, the PLOT concerns itself with good triumphing over evil, but that only comes to pass as a result of the STORY which is about friendship. Because that is something worth fighting for.
It's why the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's astonishing trilogy, `His Dark Materials', is an utter failure: `The Golden Compass' movie rushes from one plot element to another: and THEN we go here, and THEN we go there. Never slowing down to allow the characters TO BE characters. What are they fighting for? Well, nothing the viewer could care less about...
Ultimately, all of this success comes about because of the brilliant way in which the author J.K. Rowling has constructed her seven-volume storyline. See, `The Chronicles of Narnia' are good - very good - but in the end don't quite fully succeed, and this is because the author, C.S. Lewis, had never envisioned them as a series: `The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' was originally intended by the writer to be a one off. As thoroughly enjoyable as the three Narnia movies are, there is no through-story like Rowling's Harry-Voldermort. Indeed, over the course of the three Narnia movies even some of the Pevensie children themselves become side characters. And although that was entirely the point - part of the plot - in the end it harms the story. It dilutes what the characters are fighting for. It weakens its forcus.
Look at the Harry Potter series: viewed in hindsight it's not just the story of teenage friendships, for it also presents an astounding portrayal of one man coming to be viewed in the end entirely differently by the viewer. Professor Snape. What an astonishing character arc - and yet Rowling had it all there, right from the beginning: Snape using a counter-curse against Professor Quirrell to save Harry during the first movie's Quidditch match. Wait, isn't Snape the bad guy?! We're made to wonder, right from that first movie all the way through to the revelations of the eighth. `Narnia' has nothing on that. It's clear that Rowling has thought her seven-volume story through like a military operation: the first four books may have come out only a year apart, but the author had begun planning them seven years before the first one was ever published.
And the friendships, that's all there too. Look at the Ron-Hermione moments seeded throughout the entire movie series. Harry and Hermione are just good friends, thus all the unself-conscious hugs she gives him. Yet there is a physical tension - a conscious awareness of each other - between her and Ron. At the end of `Chamber of Secrets' Hermione flings her arms around Harry... but, both of them equally awkward and embarrassed, Ron and Hermione only shake hands. In `Prisoner of Askaban' during Hagrid's first lesson with Harry cautiously approaching Buckbeak, Herminone grabs Ron's hand, before quickly letting go, both of them looking around uncomfortably. All, finally, converging in Hermione's emotional outburst at the end of the Yule Ball in `Goblet of Fire' where (like a soul crying out `Look at me!') she says, "Next time there's a Ball, pluck up the courage to ask me before somebody else does - and not as a last resort!" And in another moment of movie gold, Harry and Hermione comforting each other on the steps in Hogwarts, unable to be with the one they want. "How does it feel, Harry, when you see Dean with Ginny?" After Hermione sends her bird charms crashing into the wall beside Ron and Ron flees, Harry replies, "It feels like this."
It's why `Half-Blood Prince' is one of my favourite instalments: not only is it the calm before the storm of the seventh and eighth movies but it allows the characters' friendships to come to fruition. `Half-Blood Prince' does not become sidetracked, far from it. You need that, because that is the story. It's what I love about it: yes, they're wizards and witches but the film makers never lose sight of the fact that they're also young adults going through the most important transitional period of their lives. These movies aren't about fantastical magical events inconveniently interrupted by mushy teenage moments. Instead they're precisely all about those ordinary, everyday teenage moments, played against the backdrop of incredible events. Those amazing events only occur at all because of who the characters are; it's only natural that the plot should play second to the story of their lives. Because they are what truly matters. Because they, as Sam would put it, "Are worth fighting for."
As if that wasn't enough, as if the story of Harry-Ron-Hermione (and, indeed, Snape) isn't in itself reason enough to revisit this whole series, Rowling has also given us an amazing supporting cast of characters. All too often in a series, all the characters outwith the main group rarely hold a reader's/viewer's attention for long. And yet Rowling has created not one single boring character, and what an amazing supporting cast they are: the Dursley, the Weasleys, the Malfoys, Hagrid, Dobby, Sirius, Bellatrix, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and on and on. In fact, one of Rowling's most inspired moves, and certainly a wonderful way of keeping things fresh, was to continuously have a new colourful character each year as the Professor of the Dark Arts. Glideroy Lockhart, Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Dolores Umbridge. Not to forget the delightful potions master from `Half-Blood Prince', Horace Slughorn, or the Professor of Divination, Trelawney. Then, too, you have the caretaker Argus Filch, the ghost Nearly Headless Nick. Well, you get the idea. Quidditch, the Ministry of Magic, the Dementors. The richness of the world Rowling has created is so rewarding that I can't ever imagine tiring of it.
Watching these characters - and, indeed, the actors - grow up before us is fascinating. I love the fact the first two movies are kids movies; there's no hint, really, of what lies ahead. Until, of course, you get to `Prisoner of Askaban'. Even the naysayer film critics sat up at that one and said, "Hey, hold on a minute..." From the fifth film onwards these were no longer merely kids' movies. It's what accounts for their immensely broad appeal: children will watch them for the action and special effects, teenagers and adults for the humour and the series' growing depth. Even the opening titles change as the story darkens: from bright gold in the first few movies to chipped and crumbling grey stone.
Viewed as one 1100+ minute über-movie the achievement is nothing short of remarkable.
Thank you, Rowling.
And thank you Warner Bros and the cast and crew for the ten-year visual journey of these marvellous books that you have taken my wife and I on.
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