Review: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 17 July 2011



There's an old saying that every beginning must come to an end. For the past 10 years since HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE (2001), the HARRY POTTER franchise has become the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time with the seven movies released grossing $6.3 billion worldwide. That was a tremendous achievement. And here it is -- the long-awaited epic conclusion (everyone) have been waiting for, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2. From the look of the trailer itself, this closing chapter is destined to be a spectacular cinematic experience ever put together unlike any previous HARRY POTTER series had done before. I mean, why not? Isn't that the purpose why Warner Bros. have decided to split HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS into two parts in the first place? While the first part shown last year was understandably leaned more into setup and character-driven drama, it is natural that (everyone) are expecting a spectacular and satisfying payoff in the second part. Frankly, I was pretty convinced that returned director David Yates and regular series screenwriter Steve Kloves will have little problem delivering the big promise here. After all, save the best for the last must be their ultimate motto here. But I I regret to say this -- HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 is shockingly disappointed.

Picked up directly where the first part left off, we already learn that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has finally obtained the all-powerful Elder Wand from Professor Dumbledore's (Michael Gambon) tomb. In the meantime, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermoine (Emma Watson) are mourning the loss of a beloved friend named Dobby (voice of Toby Jones) before they begin to continue their journey in a quest to defeat Lord Voldemort. So they enlisted the help of a goblin named Griphook (voice of Warwick Davis) to break into Bellatrix's (Helena Bonham Carter) vault at Gringotts, in which Harry believes that a Horcrux is hidden there. Griphook agrees to help them under the condition that they will handed over the precious Sword of Gryffindor to him. After the dangerous but successful heist at Gringotts, they are now shifting their attention back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft, in which they suspect another Horcrux may be hidden somewhere there. With the help of Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth (Ciaran Hinds), they manage to sneak back into the school and reunite some of the students and professors there. They also learn that the school is now under the watchful eyes of the Death Eaters while the slithery Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is now taking over the leadership. As Harry and his gang split up to fulfill their duties, Lord Voldemort and his dark army eventually close in on the school property in which they begin to unleash an all-out war against the people in the Hogwarts. With the school now lays under siege and the people in the Hogwarts are trying all their mights to defend it, it's up to Harry to save the day as he must face his fear against Lord Voldemort once and for all.

At 130 minutes, this is easily the shortest time a HARRY POTTER movie has ever made. It's also actually a blessing, considered it's all about payoff after a meticulous setup in the first part of the movie. Unfortunately David Yates and Steve Kloves are so carried away of pleasing the die-hard fans by being as faithful as possible to the source material until they forget the transition between words and visual medium are two different stories. Among the most glaring problem the movie suffers here is the erratic pacing. Like the first movie and the rest of the HARRY POTTER series, the movie is exceptionally draggy to the point of near standstill. While it's understandable that Yates is trying very hard to inject deep emotional factor into the story, there are just too many silent longings and quiet moments which could have been streamlined instead. Another problem would be the awkward placing of one-liners and jokes (particularly the one involved Ron Weasley) which are more forceful than necessity.

That's not all, as Yates is seemingly clueless how to elaborate or sustain the epic battle scenes in the Hogwarts which feels more like a series of afterthoughts rather than engaging moments. You can say almost everything here is strangely anticlimactic. Even the long-awaited, and would-be epic battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort towards the finale is shockingly lackluster. Yes, you read that right. I mean, after all the previous installments, this is all the filmmakers can do?

In the previous HARRY POTTER series, especially the one directed by David Yates, the characters are often the most important priority that drives the movie forward. Except this time, they are more of an afterthought no matter how much emotion they poured in. For the first time ever, I feel oddly disconnected of what happened to each of them. Even I couldn't care less for some of the major characters eventually died in this movie (e.g. Bellatrix's death). At the same time you can blame that Yates is so carried away of concentrating on Harry's personal quest that the rest of the supporting characters are neglected into one-note glorious cameos. Only Alan Rickman, who plays Severus Snape, shines well here, particularly in the engaging flashback scene where we learn more about his past and the eventual secret that revealed behind his motive against Harry. As a matter of fact, the flashback scene alone is the single best moment for the movie.

While the major bulk of the movie fails to live up to the expectation, at least the movie truly excels in technical values. The special effects are almost seamless and top-notch, while Eduardo Serra's cinematography is perfectly atmospheric that is well-balanced with Alexandre Desplat's melancholic and at times, rousing score. Yates himself actually has his own moments, particularly how he fancies swooping camerawork to create some of the epic feelings for the movie.

I understand that HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 have been received favorable reviews among many critics and the box office in the U.S. is truly phenomenal. At the time of this writing, the movie has already set a record-breaking $92.1 million in the box office as the highest-grossing single day ever! They hardly matters anyway because HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 is terribly overrated.

So much for the epic conclusion.

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