Bones to pick with this year’s big blockbuster: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Before my full-frontal review of HP7/Pt2, a note on my distress at being forced to watch it in 3D. Odeon Marble Arch sold out of tickets to the 2D version but had spares for the 3D, perfectly illustrates that 3D sucks; uncomfortable glasses, slightly blurred visual from the side-angle seats, Voldemort’s destroyed dandruff face flying into my face. To be fair, the 3D wasn’t particularly obtrusive but it was still irritating.

One of the army of avid HP book-readers, film-watchers and generation that grew up alongside the phenomenon, HP7/Pt2 was a big, glossy, blockbustery ball of excitement. Alas, I never like to judge books against films and prefer to think of the HP films as almost a separate entity (because the books, of course, are far superior) but yet I find myself enjoying the film not in it’s own right but out of some kind of warped childhood allegiance to the whole world of HP.

Nonetheless, it was filmically a mixed bag for me – I’m 50/50 on the like/dislike scale. Throughout, there was a sense you were being rushed through, which is distressing when HP7 has been split into two films! There was no chance for the actors to develop emotions, and therefore no chance for emotions to be conveyed to the audience and thus felt. The romances are underdeveloped and fumbly, but worse, the subject of death was pretty much ignored. It was almost unnoticeable when Goyle plunged to his death in the fire and there was so little footage of fighting inside Hogwarts that within one cut people were just dead in the Great Hall – oh, sad, over it, move on. On the other hand, I have to admit the Pensieve-flashback into Snape’s memory was a brilliantly crafted and emotionally rich scene; if only Yates had taken that care over the rest of the film.

Another bone of contention, which I think is likely to be more personal taste, is the post-Potter death scene when Harry converses with Dumbledore in some kind of purgatory. The scene, rather than mystical was clinical. The white was stark white rather than pearly white, and so bright that I potentially wouldn’t have realised it was supposed to be King’s Cross until Harry blurted it out. The bloody-baby type creature looked dead realistic, yet set against the complete white background it was as if a professional photo with the blank white sheet behind had just gone a bit wrong. Harry and Dumbledore seemed relatively unconcerned by the gruesome creature as well – oh, gross, over it, move on.

Minor other bones include Radcliffe and Grint getting their shirts off, that was cringey. Harry grabbing Voldemort’s face (“Let’s finish this how we begun: together”) as if he were going to give an angry kiss. A few things left kind of unfinished and, true to the nature of the HP films, some scenes just looked a bit tacky. Excellent performances from Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith, but nowhere near enough Helena Bonam Carter.

Probably the best scene of the film, McGonagall (Maggie Smith) does some badass spell and statues come to life
One of the cool scenes: McGonagall (Maggie Smith) does some awesome spell and statues come to life.

But the real backbone of contention is that “19 years later…” epilogue. It was a let down in the book and a let down on screen. With a $250 million budget and all that incredible CGI to hand you’d think that Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny would’ve been aged in some way, but no. They managed it in Back to the Future and that only had a $19m budget and was made 26 years ago! It just looked terrible and hysterical. Their teenage selves in middle-aged peoples’ clothing – it was a fight not to laugh because of the desperation to appreciate the ‘epic finale’ of the HP saga, but man it looked atrocious. It was made all the funnier by the silhouette of the drunk guy in the screening who jumped at the screen in an attempt to make it through the wall to Platform 9¾ with the characters.

You know what though, it’s still Harry Potter, therefore it’s still awesome, and yeah, I’d totally go back and watch it again (in 2D). The Telegraph called it “monumental cinema,” which is just downright misguided (obviously they’ve never seen any cinema classics) but it was the end to something that was monumental.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, dir. David Yates (2011, UK/USA)

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