Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2

I was in the AMC Theatre before 6 last night, though my movie didn’t start until 9.  When I got to the theatre, one of the workers was dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange, I knew at that moment that the evening would be eventful and that the Harry Potter series was truly coming to the end.  As with Return of the King, the final chapter in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I found myself growing more and more apprehensive as July 15th came closer.  I knew the expectations I had couldn’t be met, nothing I’d seen from director David Yates had ever been top-notch, so why would that change now, at the end of an era?  It wouldn’t, and it didn’t, but it didn’t have to, I think I changed, or at least changed my perspective.

I don’t think I have to tell any of you what happens in this movie.  If you haven’t read the books, you’ve certainly heard the pop-culture references or heard bits and pieces to know that Harry, the protagonist, finally confronts Voldemort, the antagonist, and they fight each other to the death, while bystanders get in the way.  In some sense, this story isn’t new, good vs. evil, good triumphs, but at a cost, always at a cost.  That was no different here.

What I see differently now is due to an article I read on the Washington Post.  In the article, the reviewer doesn’t highlight the specific movie, despite giving it three out of four stars, but talks about the Potter series starting, on film, in 2001, the same year of the 9/11 tragedy.  And it dawned on me, ten years, I’ve been following, actively or not, this series, books and these actors for 10 years, almost three times what I did with the Lord of the Rings series.  And in all that time, we didn’t have any Lindsay Lohan moments; any prima-Donna moments; we didn’t have any of the core cast leave mid-way through.  What we saw from Warner Brothers is something you really only see on select TV shows anymore, a series and a story that was bigger than the players in it, and the players knew it.

Harry Potter is a story about a boy who goes through a major transformation after already being short-handed in life.  We watch as he makes mistakes, some costly, and learns from them and realises that he isn’t alone, but takes responsibility for what he needs to do.  In many ways, he is Frodo.  He takes on this great task, sacrifices himself in the end, for the betterment of all.  And the story pulls it off with great flourish.

I won’t presume to tell any of you how great this film is, as a stand-alone, it is good at best.  This story can’t be told in one go, but required two films, so you cant just pick up this movie off-the-cuff.  I had the luxury of seeing both Deathly Hallows movies back-to-back and recommend it, if you have that option.  The story is jarring at times, the characters change from the book, ever so slightly, as do many mainstay scenes.  Why the directors and producers moved and changed things, we’ll never know?  I don’t want to spoil the movie for those that are off to see it, but towards the end, you’ll wonder why some characters are paired together, when you know JK Rowling never intended that.  Some of the death sequences were so detached they took away from the effect they had in the book.  But where the movie erred, it also succeeded, the sequence with Harry going into the Forbidden Forest brought tears to my eyes, not an uncommon practice, but I cried more for what I remembered than what I was seeing at the time.

The Harry Potter movies are great, on the whole, but they will never be the books.  JK Rowling wrote something that is indelible and will be irreplaceable in our minds, and it must stay that way.  When I look back at the Potter movies, I’ll remember the midnight releases, the costumes, the friends I made, the friendships that grew stronger, these are the things Potter should be remembered for, not 2 hours of celluloid that will always pale in comparison to the source material.  If you get the chance to see the movie this weekend, take a moment to notice the people there, and what the Potter world brought into your world.

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