All was well.
That’s really the only appropriate beginning to any review about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, isn’t it?
The final, climactic chapter of the tale of the boy wizard finally hit theaters last Friday, and it did not fail to deliver: the series went out with a HUGE bang. Beginning with a first day total of $92.1 million (domestically), the films has already broken records and is now officially the top-grossing film franchise ever, beating out previous record holder Star Wars.
I was at the theater fairly early on Thursday night (in costume), with about 30 of my fellow Potterheads to share in what was most certainly expected to be an emotional end for those of us who have been following Harry – if not from the beginning – for the past few years. It was an experience I wanted to make sure I shared with the right fans: not just the ones who “like” or ‘love” the series, but those who eat, breathe, dream, and live their lives with Harry as a major part of their being.
That being said, I also wanted to wait to post my thoughts on the film – knowing that I would never be able to say everything I felt after just one viewing, especially since I spent the majority of the film in tears and amidst all of the sniffling and cheering in the theater, missed some things the first go-round. Now that I’ve seen the film again, I think I can “properly” voice my thoughts on the end.
(Just in case you may not have realized, this post will be very detailed and very spoilery, so if you haven’t seen the film by now, you may want to wait before reading this post). Now that I’ve given my warning, let’s get down to it, shall we?
Overall: Overall, I think the film was brilliantly done. I think my first impression of the film was “perfect”, but there are a few minor tweaks I would have liked to have seen. That being said, I still think Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was probably as close to perfect as we could have asked for within the constraints of filming all eight installments. Here are just a few of my likes and dislikes on the film.
The Good: One of the things that I loved about DH2 was that all of the key scenes (translate: fan favorites) from the novel were included. Unlike Half-Blood Prince, where major plot points were completely disregarded, DH2 filled in a majority of the gaps created by the previous seven films. Snape, Molly Weasley, Neville, Gringott’s – it was all there.
“The Prince’s Tale” – where Harry gets to look at Snape’s memories and find out where his loyalties truly were – was probably the best sequence I’ve seen in any of the films, aside from “The Tale of the Three Brothers” animated sequence from DH1. If Alan Rickman doesn’t receive some type of award nomination for his performance in this film, I will be no less than disgusted. To see him go from seemingly cold and callous to an emotional, distraught wreck whenever Lily Potter’s name was even mentioned literally broke my heart. His death played out more viciously than I ever imagined it in my head, and his final scene with Harry was poignant and well-played. Anyone who didn’t cry during Snape’s final moments onscreen just didn’t get it, in my opinion.
The Weasleys – whether it was just seeing Arthur cast a spell to hold off a Death Eater, or hearing Ron’s anguished cry over the body of his dead brother, I am SO very glad that the Weasleys finally got their due. In previous films, one of my main complaints was that the Weasleys were never shown to their full potential: Arthur was mainly shown as a silly wizard who only had interest in Muggle artifacts, and Molly was often presented as overbearing and weak (who would really believe that Molly would stand by and let her home burn down? Really?). In DH2, we see that Molly was as powerful as any other prominently showcased witch in the series (NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!) but in a very realistic way. Bellatrix was one of the most powerful witches in the entire series, mostly because the cruel and sadistic nature of her personality enhanced whatever evil she was involved in. She cursed and killed for pleasure, not necessity, and that was one of the things that made her the most feared of all Death Eaters, and most respected by Voldemort. When Molly first attacked, you could see her fear on her face as Bellatrix retaliated. For me, that brief glimpse of fear is what made the scene real for me, made me believe that Molly really had what it took to defeat Bellatrix for good. And her triumphant smirk at the end was perfect.
My only complaint for the Weasley family is that we did not get the full emotional impact of Percy’s “Prodigal Son” return that we did in the books. I’m sure that most film-only fans probably don’t even know of what I’m referring to, but I think that it would have been a great addition to the films if that part of the story had been kept intact.
Ron & Hermione’s kiss: FINALLY!!! We get to see what a proper kiss in the Harry Potter film world looks like! Did anyone not cheer when it happened? Granted, the scene was different than it should have been (I really wanted to hear Harry’s “Oi! We’re in the middle of a war here!”), but it was still a great kiss nonetheless. The fact that they went from such an adult kiss and then erupted in teenage giggles made the scene even more enduring.
Harry’s death: I think this is one of the best scenes in the film. Very simple with just a white room, Dumbledore and Harry, the scene showed how clever a man – even if just a tad bit deceptive – Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore really was. I’m very glad they kept the majority of the dialogue from the book to explain everything (especially since I felt they royally screwed up in Order of the Phoenix when they left out the major details regarding the prophecy and why it was so important.)
I also feel the need to say this: in the end, Michael Gambon turned out to be a fantastic Dumbledore. As I’ve spent the past few weeks re-watching all of the films, I see him more and more as Dumbledore than I ever have. As much as I hated his portrayal of Dumbledore in Goblet of Fire, I think he has really channeled the spirit and character of our beloved Headmaster with increasing accuracy – especially in the final three films.
“The Forest Again” scene where Harry gets to speak with the spirits of his loved ones was very well-done, very emotional. I love that Harry was able to find peace towards the end of what he thinks is his walk towards death by receiving comfort from those who died to protect him. My only gripe with this scene was mentioning Teddy Lupin: since his birth was never mentioned (at all) in the films, and his part in the epilogue scene was cut from the film entirely, I felt like it was just empty words on a screen, especially to film fans who would have no idea who he is anyway. Nice try, but it really could have been left out and no one would have known the difference.
Of course, I could go on and on (and on) about this film, but I’ll end my ramblings with just this: it was a fantastic end to a magical series, and one that I’m sure will be a favorite for generations to come. Thank you, Jo Rowling, for bringing such a wonderful world to the imaginations of us all. Thank you, Christopher Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates, for bringing our beloved wizarding world and Hogwarts to life in such spectacular ways, and thank you to all of the cast who have loved these characters and given them to us – the fans – in such respectful, loving and faithful interpretations. Harry, his tale, and what his story has brought into my life will continue to live on, and I’ll be forever thankful for how much this series and its fandom has enriched my life.