Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

Well, just like the poster says, it all ends.  And for me it just ended.  It's over.  And I'm so sad right now.  It's like I just said a final goodbye to great friends I've known for almost a decade.  I knew it was coming, of course, and tried to prepare myself and yet I'm still overwhelmed with sadness.  Hopefully writing this review will be cathartic.

It's hard to put into words what this series, created by J.K. Rowling, has meant to me.  I know many feel the same.  And yet when I first experienced the world of Harry Potter almost ten years ago I had no idea I'd feel this way at the journey's end.  I came late to the party, skipping the books which were first published in 1997.  I just assumed they were for kids.  So my first experiences were the first two movies in 2001 and 2002 respectively.  And I thought they were cute, kid-friendly fantasy films.  'Lord of the Rings' lite, if you will.  Dumbledore even looked like Gandalf, but significantly softer.  But I was wrong.  By the third film I began to notice how the storyline was maturing.  This was a solid film.  Unfortunately the fourth was a misstep and the worst of the series in my opinion, but I could still sense big things were to come.  So, in 2007, right before the seventh and final book was released I decided to go back and read all the books.  I read all seven in around two months.  And what a great two months it was.  Similar to the movies, the books matured as they went along.  And the last three were all tremendous.  What started as young wizards in magic school evolved into an epic battle between good and evil.  And similarly the last four movies, directed by David Yates, a relative unknown, were nothing short of perfection.  I still can't believe they entrusted these beloved books to be brought to life on screen by a guy who had never made a big film before.  But I'm so glad they did because no one else could have done a better job.

And I can't neglect to mention the cast.  So, so good.  Who would have thought that three kids, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, all cast before they were teenagers would grow into such fine actors.  And the supporting cast is absolutely phenomenal.  Alan Rickman can convey more with a look than most actors can with the best dialogue.  (Not to mention his incomparable ability to painfully stretch out words.)  And how about Maggie Smith, Michael Gambone, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, and so many others?  Oh my lord.  So, so good.

My experience at the last film was perfect.  Yes, I read the book, but it was four years ago so the storyline was foggy enough that I got to experience it all over again.  And it all worked so well.  Even one particular part of the book I thought was hokey worked well on screen.  Are there some things about it I might have done differently?  Sure.  But that doesn't mean it's not also perfect just the way it was written by Rowling and directed by Yates.  And I could tell the rest of the audience agreed.  We all reacted in synch.  For most of the film you could hear a pin drop.  But there was laughter at times, mostly to break the tension.   And there were sniffles and full on tears as well.  I was certainly struggling to hold back the waterworks.  And there were cheers and applause in all the right places.  You just don't get that kind of reaction for many films.  Normally I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my home, but this was special.  This was a collection of devoted Potter fans who had all waited a long time for this moment to come and yet dreaded it at the same time.  And then it came.  And then it went.  I'm so sad to say goodbye.  But I'm so glad I got to experience it.  Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for creating such a magical world with such wonderful characters.   Thank you, David Yates, for bringing the last four films to life just perfectly.  And thank you, entire cast, for making this fantasy so real and these characters so beloved.  I will miss you all.

Grade: A+


  1. I want to thank you for your love letter to the Harry Potter tale.

    As a fan of the books, I have to say I was slightly disappointed in portions of the adaptation, but my issues stem back to what was set up in Movie 6. I am a firm believer of separating the book from the movie, but sometimes it's hard to accept what the movie decided was important over my own opinion of what should have been included.

    As a stand alone movie (along with the rest of the movie series) this film is awesome. The story is epic, the characters are well developed and for the most part have great chemistry, and the filmmakers have truly brought to life an amazing world dreamt up by JK Rowling. I awkwardly laughed to break the tension with my fellow movie goers and I was certainly wiping away tears. Some parts of the movie were so spot on to my vision of the book, I felt sort of triumphant knowing that my interpretation was somehow "correct".

    Although I am sad to see the series end, I feel like I am taking it much better than my fellow HP fans out there. I've read the books probably a half dozen times and have no doubt that I will do it again in the future. Although there is nothing new coming out any longer, I look forward to revisiting the stories and my old friends again in the next few years and being swept up by all the magic once more.

  2. Taralyn, your comment responding to Bri's review was a joy to read. Indeed it was a love letter to the tale of Harry Potter. Well said. Brian, I loved reading your review. I want to somehow get this review into the hands of every person who was involved in making the film. They would be glowing inside after reading your analysis and sincere kudos! They would be walking on air - the actors, the cast, the director, the producers... this is the kind of review that movie makers dream of. They obviously did themselves proud.
    You are no "easy A" grader - in fact, you very rarely give "A" grades at all. So it speaks volumes to me that you have given an "A+" to the last of the Harry Potter films. I cannot wait to see this. And I have a feeling that the "goodbye" will be very heavy for me. Like you, I too, have come to think of these beloved characters as friends whose adventures are a part of life as I know it. And I will miss them immensely. My enjoyment of the movies was greatly deepened by knowing the actual written words of this author, the great literary giant of our times, Jo Rowling. What a mind - what a world she has built for all of the readers on Earth to enjoy. We live 5 minutes away from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and every part of the theme park bears the stamp of Jo Rowling's prolific imagination; and never will I be desensitized to the magnificence of the world of Harry Potter. Cameron and I together have read books 1 through 5... and he was so sad about Sirius' demise that he has decided to wait before reading book 6 with me. Indeed, I hardly want to expose him to the darkness you alluded to - the maturity that grows in the films, as the characters age. (By the way, I do have to admit that I loved the Goblet of Fire, and am surprised to hear you were unimpressed.)

    Anyway, I am desperately trying to get D willing to read the book series - he does have a piqued interest. Whether that will actually happen remains a mystery. He's usually reading a Ludlum novel or a Nelson Demille.

    Brian, thank you for this awesome break-down of the last film. Great job!

    And for Bri, and Taralyn, and all the other Potter fans out there, I leave you with one word: POTTERMORE.