Not a Movie Snob - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Posted on Friday, July 22, 2011 at 07:00 PM

"So long, Harry"

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts I & II

And so Harry Potter comes to an end. Well, sort of. In book form he already came to an end a good three years before the release of the first part of the film adaptations. I never read the book. I like movies more than books and I didn't want to ruin the Deathly Hallows for myself before I had a chance to see it in the theater. But for all intents and purposes, he's gone in that there will (hopefully) never be a new Harry Potter adventure on film or in book form. Kind of a bittersweet farewell.

For a franchise of seven films, the artistic and entertainment level was impressively high throughout. It was cool to see the films go from the lighthearted fun and adventure of The Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the States) and The Chamber of Secrets to the more grown up dark and danger growing ever darker and more dangerous in the last half of series. And with the events of the entire series culminating in the showdown that is The Deathly Hallows, particularly Part 2, these last two films have a lot riding on their shoulders. This is like game 7 in a the Stanley Cup finals for the Harry Potter filmmakers. No time to choke.

The decision to split these films into two parts seemed an inspired one at first. More of the book to see and less of the book to cut. But books don't always transfer well to screen when you leave everything in. Since I never read the book I can't comment on how well an adaptation the film is of it. But I don't like to judge films based on how well they are adapted from their source material. The last two parts of this series feel like a book though. A slow burning first part, not devoid of action, taking its time building up to the climatic and chaotic second part, which is almost all action and peril.

Part 1 takes place directly following the events of The Half Blood Prince. Evil seems to be triumphing over good, Harry Potter is on the run and there seems to be more and more people willing to sell him out, leaving only a small group of trusted friends to aid and protect him while he continues his search for the hoarcrux's (pieces of Voldemort's soul). As I said, there's a fair bit of adventure and lots of magic happening at the beginning of the film.

The pace is fast and fun. Which is why when about half way through everything comes jarring to a halt, you feel it. Harry and his two bestest buddies take refuge in a forest and it is in that forest that they wait, and argue, and talk and do little else for what feels like a really long time. Hermoine's pissed at Ron, Ron's pissed at Harry, Harry's pissed at himself. They've got a hoarcrux they don't know how to destroy and there are too many scenes of characters sitting outside the tent staring blankly into the woods. Things do eventually move beyond this pacing hiccup though and they continue on their way, not any faster, but at least the scenery changes. The pace of this two and half hour moodiest of all Potter films would be much more trying if you didn't know that it was leading us to Part 2. Part 1 ends strong with the death of a character, not a main character, but a good one and the sting is felt.

Part 2 starts with the exact same scene that part 1 ended with, just in case you forgot that this was a part 2. It then moves quickly from one apocalyptic event to another with Voldemort pulling out his big guns, attacking Hogwarts with everything he's got in an attempt to lure Harry out, while Harry and his friends continue on their quest to find the remaining hoarcrux's and take out that flat nosed baddie once and for all. I've seen Part 2 twice in the space of a week. The first time I had to pee so bad during the film that I literally was afraid my kidney's would burst before the film ended. By the last twenty minutes I was tempted to scream "just kill him already" but restrained myself. The point of this tale of near kidney destruction is that for almost the whole film I was waiting for things to calm down enough so that I could slip out of the theater and relieve myself without missing out on anything too important. That calm never came and I will never not go pee before I sit down in a theater again.

One thing that surprised me was how violent Part 2 was. The filmmakers definitely stretched their PG-13 rating to the very edge of an R without actually stepping over. Lots of people, good and bad, die horrible deaths. There are characters you think have died that don't and characters you thought had lived that hadn't. It creates a sense of great chaos and unpredictability. Obviously I won't reveal what happens to Harry and the rest, or how movie ends, but I will say that right up to the very end you are unsure of the fate of anyone. The special effects in Part 2, the writing, directing, especially the acting (I could name half a dozen performances worthy of Oscar nominations in this film) are all at the very best the series has been. There are moments of great suspense and moments of great elation.

Now the obvious question. Do you need to see Part 1 to see Part 2? Well, yes. Of course you do. That's why they are called Part 1 and Part 2. They are essentially one movie split down the middle, though with two fairly distinct styles and tonal qualities. In fact, if you really don't want to miss out on anything that's happening, go back and watch The Half Blood Prince as well, as the events in that film are referenced almost as much as the events in Part 1 are. It's also one of the best films in the series.

I loved this franchise, there wasn't a film I didn't like, and while I'll probably never go back and read the books, as a fan of the films all I asked of this last chapter was a mind blowing experience that left me smoking in my seat saying "that was awesome" After the somewhat disappointing, but still entertaining Part 1, Part 2 provided me that last request and the satisfaction of that bittersweet feeling remains. So long Harry. Cheers.



NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to