Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) Semi-Review

And mercifully (at least for me). It’s over. It’s taken every ounce of fortitude that I possess to have gotten through all eight of this overhyped blast of hot rancorous air that is this series based on the JK Rowling books that I have not read. I hate to sound do negative, but the only two films of the eight that rose above mediocrity were the third and seventh installments. After having a seventh outing that actually had a semblance of flickering, sputtering lightbulb of a soul, the series again returns to its familiar big budget, no sense style of storytelling. Depressing.

I won’t say this one did not have things going for it. It’s still the third best of the series, mainly because this one has a modicum of explanation. Answers. Finality. The trouble is, this should have been resolved in the first film. Even with the explanations it feels like Rowling was still just making this up as she went along, borrowing liberally from anything remotely related to fantasy. And I still don’t know why Voldemort doesn’t have a nose.

The movie begins where the last one left off and sets not a dark tone, but a humorless one. If you have not seen the previous seven films , then forget about this one. There’s no catching up. If you have seen the other films and are an intensely  devoted fanatic of the series, you still may have some confusion. Better do a refresher before you see this. Even Ralph Fiennes confessed complete confusion about what transpires onscreen in a recent BBC radio show (conducted by Simon Mayo).

There is a wand that is extremely important in the movie, but why is anyone’s guess. The whole  series is based on having people point sticks at one another and letting CGI FX animators work the real magic. You just have to take the actors’ words for it, when one professes or displays more power than another. There isn’t much real drama in that. Which leads me to another problem with the series.

This is NOT a franchise based on classic children’s literature. This is the modern children’s literature franchise. It is a story aggressively marketed by a conglomerate to adolescents. People howl about the lack of humanity in Michael Bay’s Transformer flicks, but I find these even more lacking in any kind of emotional value. It’s not even dreary. It’s dark, but not in content. It’s just shot with a minimum of light. That’s what passes for dark these days.  I would even be happy with dreary, but even when someone dies here, they just turn up as ghosts. They even say “Dying’s not so bad” in this one. The Lovely Bones have nothing on the Potter franchise. There is nothing at stake here. Voldemort doesn’t even have some diabolical plan to unhatch. He’s probably the most one note villain in the history of franchise villains. He has no motivation other than trhe robotic like “Kill Potter. Kill Potter. Kill Potter.”

The peripheral characters are staggering in number and useless to adding any kind of suspense in the film. You get the idea that Rowling is incapable of killing any of her characters other than the bad guys and older characters. There’s a massively destructive war scene but only adult actors are allowed to be killed, and only a select few at that (mostly a few bad guys). I never felt in this ENTIRE SERIES that the characters were ever in any danger. It’s just melodrama.

I have to say that the acting wa decent. There are quite a few English speaking Euro-actors in this. It’s like a Who’s Who. I especially enjoyed seeing Kelly McDonald turn up as a ghost. She brightens any movie up and was one of the more animated people in a film bogged down by exposition. I also like seeing Warwick Davis in a couple of roles.

The three leads were okay in this, but still not as good as they were in the third installment. That’s all on the directors , though.  Radcliffe is given much more to do than Watson and Grint. I think the latter have always been more interesting than Harry ‘Mr. Vanilla Always Winning/Always Whining’ Potter. I do feel the emphasis on the MASSIVE number of incidental characters takes away from establishing any kind of onscreen presence for the main characters. Why the filmmakers would think we care about some dude named Neville rather than Harry, Ron and Hermione is far beyond me. I mean the Luna Lovegood character was basically in the entire series just to be quirky and roll her eyes around. In this one, she (and many others) make appearances but serve no purpose. And Luna doesn’t even have enough time to be quirky in this. It was almost like they just wanted to say “Hey. remember this on part 4?” like Rowling has really been crafting and building up to something, but all of these characters do nothing more than have their 10 seconds of screentime, just to make an appearance. Rowling gives far too much time to the extras that serve no purpose story-wise. I guess it adds to the selection of obscure characters that cosplayers can choose from.

The worst part of the film is the tacked on ending that takes any imagination away in what comes after. It was unnecessary and just added to the running time. And the running time is long. It was at least 9 hours. I heard so many restless sighs that I began to think it was part of the movie. It will make a gazillion dollars, but it has all of the substance of the ‘Macarena’ craze of a decade or so ago.

No, the worst part of the film was all of the exposition. Endless explaining. Instead of telling the story through the actions of the characters, there are many instances where the film is stopped cold so as to explain and explain and explain. If you’re into the minute details of the Horcruxes you’re in for a treat. If you’re not, be prepared to be kicked in the face, groin and square between the buttocks (say that like Gump would), in that order.

I’m just glad it’s over… You know more films are coming, though. Hogworts: The Next generation and some such. There WILL be television shows at some point aimed at the next crop of potential adolescent consumers. I can rest easier until that day, though. I’ll give this an extra half star for 1) the explanations and 2) because it’s finally over….

3 of 5


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