Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Release Date: July 15, 2011
Director: David Yates
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures

Part 2 is the more action-oriented of the two movies, and after tying off a few loose ends at the beginning, dives into pretty much non stop action from there.  While Helena Bonham-Carter’s hammy performance as Bellatrix Lestrange irritates me, I absolutely love Helena Bonham-Carter’s interpretation of Hermione Granger playing as Bellatrix Lestrange. Any because any movie is improved by some Luna Lovegoodness, I think its great that Luna insists Harry speak with Helena Ravenclaw’s ghost, something not in the book (Also Kelly Macdonald joins Shirley Henderson as cast members of Intermission who also portray Hogwarts ghosts). The best part of the battle scenes is seeing Neville Longbottom coming into his own by destroying the bridge (not in the book), standing up to Voldemort,and killing Nagini.

The elephant in the room for this final movie is that Voldemort just isn’t all that scary.  Hugging Draco and laughing like a dork make him feel even less menacing than he ever has.been.  While there are several good character moments for heroes – both major and minor characters – the antagonist just seems to be there to be defeated at the right time.  Also, the epilogue is unsatifying/unnecessary but that’s true to the book.

Rating: ***

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
Release Date: November 19, 2010
Director: David Yates
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures

The source book for this movie is essentially two stories: one a mystery/road trip and one a war novel.  This movie adapts the first story.  The big question regarding splitting the adaptation of the seventh novel into two movies is if it is justifiable or simply a cash grab.  I’d say that by and large there’s not much that could’ve been pared out of this movie, and since sitting in a theater for 4 hours is not ideal, splitting it into two movies makes sense.  Of course, I never saw either movie in the theaters and pretty much binged them back to back, so what do I know.

The adaptation does abridge the novel quite a bit, and as in The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, I think the filmmakers do a good job of getting to the essence of the source material without getting into all the details.  One scene that stands out as something that’s not vital to the story, but I nevertheless like it because it’s cinematic, is when Harry and Hermione dance together in the tent. It’s a moment of having fun and release from all the tensions of the horcrux hunt, and even a moment of attraction between the two, although it dissipates as quickly as it begins.  I also like that when Hermione reads “The Tale of Three Brothers” it is illustrated with stylized animation.

The cliffhanger is rather abrupt, but its hard not to see the two movies as anything other than one narrative.

Rating: ***1/2



Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Author: J.K. Rowling
Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Narrator: Jim Dale
Publication Info: Listening Library, 2007

In 2007, expectations were high for the final volume in the Harry Potter series.  I believe it’s safe to say that J.K. Rowling stuck the landing.  I remember I was traveling home from Los Angeles the day the book was released and since the book was not available at the bookstore near my gate, I actually walked to another terminal to get a copy.  And then I read most of it on my redeye flight to Boston.

It felt like a huge change to have Harry, Hermione, and Ron skipping their final year at Hogwarts to search for horcruxes.  The familiar structure of Harry Potter novels was disrupted. Instead we get a novel with two distinct sections.  The first is kind of a mystery as the trio search for clues to find and destroy  horcruxes.  The second is a war story as the forces of good face Voldemort and his Death Eater for a climactic battle.

What’s impressive is that so many of the themes, places, and characters established in the previous six stories are worked into the story.  Griphook and Mr. Ollivander, for example, are people Harry met in his first encounter with the Wizarding World and they each play a vital role in this novel.  These throwbacks are natural though and all click into place in a satisfying narrative.

While still a large book, The Deathly Hallows feels more narratively straight-forward and moves faster than its predecessors.  Obviously a lot of work was set up for this book by its predecessors, especially The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, that did a lot of the scene-setting and explanation, whereas The Deathly Hallows is more about piecing that knowledge together. There are some parts that didn’t work for me.  Harry meeting Dumbledore in a heaven-like Kings Cross rather than dying felt like a cop-out to me at first, although I’ve softened on that over time.  The epilogue is something I see a lot criticism about, and I agree that it is unsatisfying, probably because it is unnecessary.

The Deathly Hallows was the only book that came out after I started this blog so you can also read my initial impressions from 2007.