Harry Potter 8, or Harry Potter 7.2 to some, has finally arrived as of this Friday and already it has been making millions of dollars. Reading various reviews on Metacritic, IMDB, and other review sites I’ve seen mixed reviews on this movie from scores as low as 1.0 to scores as high as 10. Some of the reviews have been written by die-hard fans of the series, while other reviews have been written by haters of this particular wizarding world. So now it is time for me to share my opinions about the series and tell you what I like and what I didn’t like about the movie. So let’s get started.
Harry Potter 8 starts up where Harry Potter 7 left off as we see Voldemort claim the elder wand from Dumbledore. After this brief flashback, the movie switches focus back to Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his gang who are planning their quest to search for the remainder of the Horcruxes hiding in the world. The majority of the movie then portrays their quest to look for the Horcruxes and the quest to find a way to defeat the dark wizard and his crew. I wish not to ruin anymore so I’m going to leave it here for now and move on to the acting.
As usual, the acting of Harry Potter is still as smashing as it has always been. Radcliffe once again nails the part of Potter managing to capture all the emotions necessary for the brave wizard role. Emma Watson still manages to plays the calm, wise, and caring Hermoine Granger though she unfortunately does not play as large a role in this movie as we’ve seen in the past. Rupert Grint comes back in full force playing the idiotic, naïve, and loyal Ron Weasley whose comedic timing and antics are still as funny as ever. Other actors worth mentioning in this installment are Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Matthew Lewis. Fiennes, who many know as Voldemort, brings his eerily quiet, sinister, snake like voice that has made our spines chill for some time now. Although his voice helps make Voldemort sinister, there are times in this movie where Fiennes screws up the dialog and casts his spells in an extremely cheesy manner that is more humorous than terrifying. Helena Bonham-Carter however plays the insane and eccentric Bellatrix LeStrange to the same level we have seen in the past. In this movie however, Carter impresses me even more as she plays another role I was not expecting. A particular scene in this movie where Hermoine Granger is impersonating LeStrange had Carter acting like a nervous, fear filled wizard who was attempting to play an uncertain role. Carter managed to capture the awkward facial features and movements perfectly and it seemed like this role was natural to her. Even more impressive than Carter was Matt Lewis who plays Neville Longbottom the ill lucked wizard. Over the past 10 years we have seen Neville Longbottom evolve from a shy boy to a proud wizard and Lewis himself has gone over a transformation himself. Lewis stole the show for me in this movie managing to perform all of his scenes, whether it is suicidal stunts, heroic speeches, or wizarding duels, perfectly. The rest of the cast acted well, but unfortunately most of them only had cameo roles that lasted only for a few seconds to minutes at most.
Okay enough about the acting let us get down to the good stuff. David Yates, the director of this film, has managed to once again make a very good portrayal of the final part of the last book. The pace of the movie starts of slow and informative, a bit of a catch up for those that don’t know the story very well. Eventually the movie kicks into high gear and the pace begins to move fast, too fast in some parts, to help speed along the story. Yates sticks pretty close to the story we know, but seems to speed through the story faster than I was expecting, skipping the flashbacks and back story and replacing it with more “action” scenes. The dialog helps keep you interested in the film having enough emotion and information to keep you in the story and intertwined with well-timed comedy that keeps you laughing and awake. The scene with Snape (Alan Rickman) where he shares his memories with the audience was emotionally stimulating and brilliantly done, making a good amount of my friends well up. It was a combination of the music and cinematography as well as Yates’ directing that really delivered these memories and had them pack a punch to the audience. A few scenes that were examples of Yates’ artistic licensing were a little cheesy for me, often nothing more than a quick, suspenseful chase that ended in some rather passionate kissing that you see in teenage dramas. I’ll even applaud his work on the final scene of the movie, the epilogue, which in the book I thought was a cheesy finish. Yates managed to make the scene less cheesy and more emotional and I liked it a lot better than its portrayal in the book. Overall though Yates did a pretty good job with the story and made a nice adaption to the book, his biggest folly though was the action.
When I read the book four years ago, I was expecting the action scenes to be very dramatic, flashy, that was reasonably long. Unfortunately Yates seems to have trouble getting action scenes right and he really failed to deliver the scenes the way I envisioned them in the book. The Room of Requirement scene was pretty good, though I enjoy Rowling’s detail much more because it was a little dragged out and more suspenseful. The biggest disappointment however was the Battle at Hogwarts, which started off with so much potential. Now in the book Rowling skipped the details and left your imagination to fill in the details of the battle. Yates has done the same thing in the film showing only scenes of the battle in pieces as Harry and the gang attempted to complete their quest. Although the graphics, spells, and magic were brilliantly imaged, there was not enough focus on the battle to really fill my expectations. Many fans I talked to were expecting the Hogwarts battle to show off the skills of some of the famous characters in the film and perhaps show some dignified deaths of their favorite characters. With the exception of a couple of scenes, the film crew decided to only show a few specific battles and instead do the swarm/background syndrome where the action is contained in the background. Whether it is for cost cutting reasons or because J.K. Rowling didn’t want a more detailed battle I don’t know, but still I was expecting an explosive finish. I do applaud the battles between Voldemort and Harry and LeStrange and Ms. Weasley, which were incredible and exceeded my imagination.
Well I’ve rambled on longer than I expected, so I guess it’s time to wrap this up. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 is a very good conclusion to the epic saga, not the best but still good. The solid acting, brilliant graphics, emotional stimulating soundtrack, and great camera work have made Rowling’s work come to life. Unfortunately the action is still lacking and the pace is a little too quick for me to say this was the best movie of the summer. I applaud the company’s efforts at adapting Rowling’s work and give this movie an 8.5-9.0 for being exciting, though not living up to the hype that the trailers painted.