Monday, July 18, 2011
Mini-Review of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2
In spite of my hazy, crazy summer schedule, I did see the last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, on opening weekend. The theater was packed, which is a very impressive feat for a 9:45 a.m. IMAX 3D showing on a Saturday morning. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is one of the best summer films I've seen this year, and it looked absolutely stunning in IMAX 3D.
Deathly Hallows Part 2 chronicles the final confrontation between Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), a confrontation that inevitably involves Hogwarts itself--the castle, the faculty and the students. This sequel picks up immediately after the previous movie, so viewers who haven't seen Deathly Hallows Part 1 yet should see that first before watching Part 2. (Then again, with all of the cameos of people and places that were seen in the previous films, anyone who decides to make the last Harry Potter film their first will be completely lost.)
Deathly Hallows Part 2 is epic in scope, both in terms of narrative structure and visual composition, more so than any of the previous Harry Potter films. Further aiding in the astonishing grandiosity of this adaptation is the direction of David Yates, whose previous experience in this franchise (Yates directed the last three Harry Potter films) clearly aided him in providing the right tone and pacing for this final chapter. In between the action set pieces are a few quiet, thoughtful, character-driven scenes--including a few noteworthy moments involving Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Harry himself, and a goblin named Griphook (Warwick Davis)--which emphasize the quality of the film's cast and Yates' thorough understanding of the source material.
As with any other Harry Potter movie, quite a few subplots from the books are missing in the movie. For example, the tragic story behind Ariana, the late sister of Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), is nowhere to be found; she makes a cameo appearance as a portrait in a scene with Albus' brother Aberforth (Ciarán Hinds), but nothing more. While the omission of this and other back stories doesn't keep Deathly Hallows Part 2 from being a great movie, their absence stand as reminders of how the movies' set running times cause them to fall short of the narrative richness of Rowling's books--even when one book is split into two movies, as is the case of Deathly Hallows. Nevertheless, I don't know how the ending of the Harry Potter saga could have been portrayed any better on the silver screen than what Yates and company produced in Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Furthermore, if there's one film to see in 3D this summer, it's Deathly Hallows. The already impressive action scenes in both Gringotts and Hogwarts gain an extra level of almost immersive depth in the 3D format, which further enhances the multitude of thrills that this sequel provides.