Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollow Ending: A Reflection of the Biggest and Most Disappointing Film of the Summer (2011)
by Charles Beall
I did not like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
There, I said it. Phew, I needed to get that off my chest! I have seen the movie twice now, because after the first viewing, when everyone started applauding and taking off their 3D glasses to reveal their tear-stained cheeks, I felt something was wrong with me. Listening to the murmurs of praise among departing theatergoers, I found myself disagreeing with them. I was quiet the rest of the night; I went to grab a beer with my friends and they kept asking me what was wrong.
“I didn’t like it,” I confessed, my head hanging in shame. They looked at me like I was a freak, like I had said something along the lines of supporting Michele Bachmann for president. What was wrong with me?!
I went back a second time…again, disappointment. I am a horrible person, I thought to myself.
It seemed as if rain clouds followed me and I had a big scarlet “A” on my chest (for “asshole” for not liking the last-ever Harry Potter movie). But then, I began to think that I wasn’t a horrible person- maybe the final Harry Potter chapter really did suck.
That is not to say that Hallows: Part 2 is a poorly made film; quite the contrary, which is why I was so disappointed in it. First off, the craftsmanship on this film is amazing. Not only is the cinematography gorgeous (Oscar-worthy, in my opinion), the eerie set pieces, costumes, visual effects, and even the performances are pitch-perfect. Which leaves two key ingredients that are lacking that could’ve made this the best Potter film: the screenplay and direction.
Now I have had a love/hate relationship with David Yates as the director of the last four Potter films. I wasn’t crazy about The Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince (they were good, not great) but I was floored with Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (which I consider the best-and my most favorite-film in the series). I loved the pacing of it and, by the end of that film, I conceded that it was a good idea to split the final book into two movies. As the release date of Part 2 approached, I was eager to see it.
The gorgeous, foreboding pacing of Part 1 was replaced by a frantic, amateurish, and uneven film in Part 2. I know this was an “action movie,” but the filmmakers (or Warner Bros. corporate heads?) abandoned what worked so well in Part 1 and just shat out the final chapter so it could get converted to 3D in time for its release date (my theory- not a fact). Call me a pessimist, but there were dollar signs hanging over Hogwarts, not dementors; it felt that there wasn’t a screenplay, but rather a checklist of the last half of the book that Yates was going by.
The whole world has seen this film by now, so I will not go into an all-out review of it. In the case of this article, I will touch upon some key scenes that I believe were butchered for this movie.
The first is the Battle of Hogwarts, which in the book was both heart-felt and action packed, but in the film was just action-packed. Yes, all of Harry’s friends show up to help save the day, but that is it. Indeed, it was like the film was a supplement to the book- you needed to have read it to know who people were and what their relationships to Harry were. That emotional connection that was so well-written by Rowling and decently portrayed in previous films was thrown out for the last film. I know their allegiance to Harry…I read about it. I want to see it.
Another complaint of mine (in regards to the Battle of Hogwarts) is the death scenes of certain characters. I will not name names in case the reader is one of the 19 people who haven’t seen the movie, but in the book, their deaths were dramatic and heroic. They died for Harry, for the greater good. In the movie, their deaths just served as a transition to the next scene, losing all of the emotional weight that it carried in the books. Another death scene (SPOILER) is that of Bellatrix. Now, that was my favorite part in the last book, mainly because I couldn’t wait to see Julie Walters deliver “the line” in the movie. I knew going in that “the line” would be in there, and I barely missed it. Again, it seemed that “the line” was just on the checklist that Yates had as his screenplay. There was no emotion, no drama, no suspense to the delivery of “the line.” It just happened…and it sucked.
Finally, the epilogue to the film, while nearly verbatim from the book, was just…what were we talking about? To be fair, I felt the epilogue to the book, while bittersweet, was a bit too uneventful. Yes we know everyone is okay and happily ever after, but this was a real chance for Yates to do something epic. Do a montage of Ron proposing to Hermione, Harry proposing to Ginny, Hogwarts rebuilding itself, Ron and Hermione getting married, Harry and Ginny getting married, Neville and Luna hooking up, Draco becoming head of the Republican Party, the lives of Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny with their children, Hagrid marrying that giant chick from The Goblet of Fire, Harry killing Jacob and Edward from Twilight, etc. How come after eight films of “tweaking” things from the books, the filmmakers actually take the weakest part of them and adapt it verbatim?! You can end with the train station; just show what happened in those 19 years. I wonder if Yates was working under the assumption that we had read the book and were waiting for, indeed expecting and demanding, the epilogue. My hypothesis was validated with the hisses of “yes!” that escaped in the packed theater when the “19 years later” title card came up.
Now there are parts I enjoyed. The fight between Harry and Voldemort is pretty badass; I even liked the lack of a film score in some scenes, just the cracking of spells from wands. The best part of the film was Snape’s memories, which were really the only emotional part in the film. This was a rare case where Rowling’s words were beautifully transformed to images on the screen. I just wish the rest of the film was like that.
In conclusion, I didn’t hate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2– I was just disappointed in it. There was so much building up to this final chapter that I just felt underwhelmed, unmoved, and let down. Maybe my expectations were too high? I will have to see it again, but at $13 a pop to see it, those pesky dollar signs play too much a roll. Maybe when it is out on Blu-ray, I’ll revisit it.
Grade: C+ (but I really do love Harry Potter…don’t hate me!)