Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II had a lot to live up to. The seventh movie was the best yet, scary and moving and all-around awesome. It set the bar high for the eighth film. On top of that, weeks and weeks of press built on fans’ pre-existing excitement for the film. You couldn’t browse the internet without being reminded that the final Harry Potter movie based on the final book was coming out July 15. Even the movie posters say it: â€œIt all ends.â€
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the movie just couldn’t live up to the hype. It was doomed by the contents of the second half of the second book, which is mostly long scenes of flashback and exposition cut by action sequences. As a reader, all of the explanation is vital. You finally understand Snape’s complicated relationship to Harry; Dumbledore becomes a flawed but very real character. In a movie, however, those explanations aren’t very exciting to watch. Consequently, they’re glossed over or condensed. We get almost no back story on Dumbledore, so Aberforth’s involvement in the final battle at Hogwarts seems to come out of nowhere. Snape’s feelings for Lily are explained, but the flashback is shorter than I wished, and, I imagine, utterly confusing for someone who hasn’t read the book.
Instead of developing backstories, director David Yates lingers on the action sequences. These scenes are very cool, of course. I especially loved the escape from Gringott’s – the CGI for the dragon is flawless- and scenes before the battle at Hogwarts when the faculty and members of the Order of the Phoenix build a glowing shield around the castle. But action scenes don’t pay much attention to individual characters, and the characters are the most important part of the series.
That said, the movie has plenty of awesome moments when the characters get to shine. McGonagall, rallying the stone knights in defense of the castle, turns to Molly Wesley and says with undisguised glee, â€œI’ve always wanted to use that spell!â€ Helena Bonham Carter steals the show with her performance of Hermione disguised as Bellatrix when the trio breaks into Gringotts. Neville has not one but two pure action hero moments that made several audience members cheer out loud. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of tearful moments to go along with the excitement. It’s hard to say goodbye to these beloved characters, and while many of the deaths are touched on only briefly, each of the main characters who dies is given a brief spotlight before their death. The most heartbreaking moments are lifted straight from the book. Harry, on his way to sacrifice himself to Voldemort, is surrounded by his parents, Sirius, and Lupin. He turns to Lily, and in a way that reminds you that although he’s about to do an incredibly noble and brave thing, he’s still just a boy, asks, â€œDoes it hurt?â€ Cue tears all over the theater. Then, moments later Harry meets Dumbledore in the mysterious King’s Cross setting. and Dumbledore greets him: â€œHarry, you wonderful boy. You brave, brave man.â€ That moment alone, for a diehard fan, is worth going to see the movie, and there many other great moments (ahem, a long-anticipated kiss among them). It may not be the finest film in the series, but it’s a fitting end to a beloved story.
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