Almer S. Tigelaar

A Little Bit of Everything

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

This movie marks the end of a string of no less than eight films, started by Chris Colombus, of Home Alone fame, and finished with a more mature tone set by David Yates. The reason for splitting the last book of the series into two films was perhaps due to its length: nearly 800 pages. However, one can not entirely disregard a financial motivation either: the Harry Potter film franchise has been a massive success. Perhaps due to the split, the seventh movie: which is the first part of the last book, was a bit too lengthy and drawn out for my taste. It was also more grim than its predecessors, which is in-line with the source material. So, how satisfactory is this second part: the conclusion?

At the start of the film we jump immediately into the story: it feels more like returning after the break than the start of a new film. This is exactly what viewers would expect, so it seems like a good choice. Unfortunately, during the first twenty minutes, not everything feels solid: the pacing is slow, the tone a bit too serious and there’s distracting overuse of dramatic music at inappropriate moments. In all honesty: this would probably work if you would watch the first part immediately prior to seeing this movie. Nevertheless, the pieces of the movie fall in to place as Harry Potter reaches Hogwarts. From there on the pacing is good with pleasant acting thanks to the great ensemble cast. There are also enough sprinkles of humor from this point on to keep the movie from taking itself overly serious. Furthermore, the cinematography is excellent and the special effects are well done. Parts of the movie are clearly influenced by the feel of contemporary movies, particularly Lord of the Rings. The post-converted 3D is not over-used or distracting apart from some minor strobing in some scenes, but they might as well have left it out as far as I am concerned.

It is always difficult for film makers to adapt a book so loved by millions. The good source material if anything, makes this more of a challenge. Besides having less time for the build-up of characters, things that work well in books simply do not translate well to the big screen, particularly long stretches of monologue or dialogue. Fortunately, the film makers manage to keep the dialogue to an absolute minimum putting the focus where it belongs: the trials of the main characters. There are several changes with respect to the book. I will not spoil anything content-wise in this review, but with respect to the source material there are some more moments in the movie for Hermione, professor McGonagall and Neville Longbottom, and there’s less emphasis on the back story of Dumbledore’s family. Some changes have been made to be able to to play on the strengths of the medium: telling a visual story, I find that this predominantly works well.

All in all, this is a worthy closing to a long-running film franchise. A good job by David Yates and all the other people who have worked on this movie. It is understandable even for people that have not read the books, even though seeing the first part of the deathly hallows is mandatory. To be honest: if you haven’t read the book, you really should read that first as it contains a lot more detail and back story which will make you better able to understand the film, as well as appreciate the minor changes it makes for more effective visual storytelling. If you are looking for a movie with lots of action then this is certainly not for you, as action is used only as a story-telling device. This is a good choice, as it caters to those who have really come to love Harry Potter over the years. This is the best movie in the series: recommended!

★★★★★★★★☆☆

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Trailer hosted by Vimeo. Copyright © 2011 Warner Brother Pictures
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