Film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Or, as a friend put it, “On a scale of 1 to Voldemort, how awkward are your hugs?” SPOILERS AHOY.

The Good:

  • Lots of wonderful, wonderful actors turning in fun final performances in roles they’ve been playing over the course of around a decade. Whoever cast these people deserves an Oscar because somehow, they all ended up being (almost) perfect for their roles even after all that time.
  • Occasional shout-outs to memorable bits of the series, like the blue pixies coming out of a cage in the Room of Requirement.
  • Some pretty cool magic effects. The shield thing looked nice, and I was pleasantly surprised that it blocked the entry of people as well as magic (unlike similar shields in other, crappier movies *cough*phantommenace*ahem*). The animated statues were cool, although there didn’t seem to be enough of them, given the huge number of suits of armor and statues in the castle.
  • Nicely varied and well-realized locations, although we’ve seen most of them before.
  • The aforementioned most awkward hug on film Poor, gutless Draco. They almost made him seem much less on the dark side than he was in the books.
  • Despite the many problems with character deaths not having enough emotional or visceral impact, Snape’s death was better than it was in the book. Here’s how. In the book, Harry and co. are listening to the conversation between Voldemort and Snape while hiding behind some debris in the Shrieking Shack, and thus they hear Nagini killing Snape, but don’t see anything until Voldemort leaves. In the movie, they’re on the outside of a previously unmentioned  boathouse, which has nearly opaque glass on much of the wall. This way, you can sort of see a silhouette of someone if they’re very close to the glass, but that’s it. This means that when Nagini attacks Snape, you (and Harry and co.) hear snake hissing, followed by hearing and seeing Snape being thrown against the glass over and over again. There’s no graphic depiction of death by snakebite, but the simple visual and auditory cues of “that body is being subjected to a lot of violence” makes this death in particular more powerful and real, and therefore more tragic.

The Bad:

  • Sadly, I didn’t actually see Part 1, so I don’t know if what I’d like to nitpick is fair game or not.
  • Most of the deaths didn’t have much weight. The bad guys’ deaths were just them flying backwards or falling over, most of the time. The “turning to ashes” thing used for Bellatrix and Voldemort was kind of cool, but I feel like both of those characters (as very evil people and as major antagonists) should have died with a little more oomph. On the good guy side…well, Fred, Tonks and Lupin deserved better than 30 seconds of grief (and it would have helped the seriousness to see Fred die. Yes, it would be sad, but that’s kind of the point). I realize Harry and the others have a lot on their minds, and I did get that the filmmakers wanted it to be sad. However, their efforts were undermined by the dead characters’ lack of screen time. Maybe this is alleviated by watching Part 1, but that’s not entirely an excuse; if you want us to feel bad about somebody dying, you need to establish why we should care about them first, and in the same movie is pretty important as well.
  • I don’t recall the book depicting goblins as quite so needlessly petty and greedy, although this is partly a matter of “they had to cut out some of all that damn exposition,” and the long explanation of goblin history and ownership ideas was probably one of the first things to go.
  • Speaking of expository stuff they cut…the drama surrounding the Dumbledores got cut down to “I don’t care about your personal problems, just shut up and help me” and a sort of random line from Hermione about the portrait in the Hog’s Head being of Ariana. Maybe it’s all in the first movie but it seems like that sort of major subplot should either be a focus or cut out of the movie entirely, since it has little to do with the main action.
  • A lot of these problems have to do with the fact that it feels pretty rushed. Presumably, the filmmakers skimmed over a lot of the earlier stuff to get to Hogwarts, and once the characters arrive there, they have to divide screentime between finding the Horcrux, preparing for battle, getting the basilisk fangs and Voldemort gathering followers, and that’s all before the fighting. During the battle, it’s between all of the many, many characters that we’ve been introduced to throughout the series fighting it out, the Golden Trio destroying the Horcrux, and Snape dying. You get the idea; it’s set up so that a bunch of plot threads are going at the same time, so the film jumps schizophrenically between them and also somehow has to deliver an exciting battle.
  • Harry doesn’t use the Elder Wand to repair his old wand, he just snaps it in half and throws it off a bridge. So…he’ll be using Draco’s wand for the rest of his life?

The Ugly:

  • I love both the character of Severus Snape and the actor Alan Rickman, but whatever CGI they used to make him look younger in the Pensieve was a bit off at times. And he was wearing waaaaaaaay too much eyeshadow.
  • The Imperius Curse “happy gas” looks silly.
  • I wish there were more visual variation in the spells; we basically only get red (Stunning spells) and green (Killing Curse) jets of light and some random wand motion corresponding to random spell effects.
  • I’ll say it again: Bellatrix and Voldemort should have gotten more…concrete or explosive or just more climactic deaths. Dissolving away just didn’t cut it for me.
  • Trying to make all of the young cast look 19 years older was really weird. Extremely pale people with extremely light hair shouldn’t try to grow beards, especially if they don’t groom it, and everyone else…was just weird.
  • Most of the little kids (flashback child Snape and the protagonists’ kids) didn’t really look like they were related to their “parents” (and child Snape didn’t look much like older Snape).

[Featured image: harrypotter.wikia.com.]

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