Saturday, October 29, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2

By s. Saturday, October 29, 2011 , , , , , , , ,
(130 min, 2011)
Plot: Harry, Ron and Hermione search for Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord.
Director: David Yates
Writers: Steve Kloves (screenplay), J.K. Rowling (novel)
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint

Years of magic, years of love.
I remember when I was still a kid and I was siting in the theater watching “Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone”. I recall how I loved the characters flying on broomsticks, facing danger and forming life long friendships. Over the years I haven't missed any of the movies, although I only started to read the books recently. What makes that series so beloved and unique? Why is it my favorite popular story, one which I love more than 'Lord of the rings”, “The Matrix”, “Star wars” or “Pirates of the Caribbean”?

The secret is that J. K. Rowling realized that her readers will grow, that with time they will mature. As they did, the characters followed. We saw Harry, Hermione and Ron falling in love for the first time, having disputes, facing tragedies and going through normal phases of life. Even though they live in magical world their lives never differed too much from ours. Kids and adults all over the world witnessed their adventures and related to them. Because in its heart “Harry Potter” was never about magic. It was about friendship, love, loyalty and sacrifice. And most of all – about making choices.
The second part of “Deathly Hallows” shows Harry, Hermione and Ron on their quest to destroy horcruxes – magical objects in which Voldemort hid parts of his soul. Only when they are destroyed he can be killed. Their quest continues during epic battle for Hogwarts, when Death Eaters attack the legendary school and all of our beloved characters try to stop them.
While part 1 had very flawed pacing part 2 is an extraordinary movie – things move fast, very rarely too fast. Apart from one short scene with Helena Ravenclaw (which I think could be cut down by a half and the movie would be much better) I was not bored for a second, whilst during part 1 I think I dozed off at one point. The movie races as fast as the spells shoot out of wands, but you can still follow the story. Still, I cannot understand why the last part and with all honesty, best part of the series was made into the shortest film. Some of the scenes, like duels between Snape and McGonagall and Molly Weasly and Bellatrix Lestrage really deserved to be longer.

Other then that I really cannot have any complaints – some people dislike the epilogue, I'll admit the make up was very amateurish, but the final shot of the movie, simply stays with you. Yes, Voldemort's demise could be made a little better. Yes, it's horrible we don't see some of the major characters' deaths on screen. But “Deathly Hallows part 2” has such overwhelming amount of powerful scenes those little details simply fade from your mind as soon as you see it. The escape from the vault, the resurrection stone sequence, Protego Maxima and the final duel, to name only a few.

I was impressed by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. We saw them as kids, a decade ago. Now they are adults and they are becoming quite capable actors. I can't say anything bad about their performance here, they were very good. The worst actors were as usual Tom Felton - who completely ruined Draco for me - and Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley. It's not that she's bad – it's that she has zero chemistry with Radcliffe. And with movie like that, with so many actors, where there are only few scenes shown between two characters the chemistry is the key. Otherwise people won't understand why certain characters ended up together. As a non book reader I cannot understand why Harry didn't end up with Hermione. Nor can I comprehend why Snape was so in love with Lily. I have to buy it, because the filmmakers tell me that's how things are. That's not the way to go.
Ah, Snape. The last time I cried that pathetically in theater was during “to me you are perfect scene” in “Love actually”. And I cried because I was so moved. This time I simply broke down. As soon as I learned of big secret, that Snape loved Lily Potter and he was actually a spy all this time, to avenge her, I thought what an amazing scene this will make. I always imagined that “Dumbledore's Farewell” by Nicholas Hopper would play in the background as Snape conjures patronus and Dumbledore and the audience realize that even though she's gone, she never vanished from his heart. When I sat there in the theater and the flashback was shown I already started to weep but as I heard the said song starting to play, as I saw the patronus, as I witnessed Snape falling into despair while holding Lily's dead body and I heard him saying “Always” I lost it. I doubt that any time soon I will see scene better than that, with more beauty and tragedy in it. During these few minutes Alan Rickman's beautifully nuanced performance lifts the movie to the level of masterpiece. Rickman, who was one of few people in on a secret, known about his character's motives throughout the making of eight movies. His performance of a man, who never tasted happiness and who has to protect the child of his beloved that she had with a man he hated is so complex and thrilling to watch that one can only wish we will see extended version of the film some day.

The whole flashback sequence, although relatively brief, is the movie's – and series' – best moment. Even if you didn't know, even if you didn't read the books, if you can see through your tears you will understand many things. The doe patronus in “Deathly hallows part 1”, the killing of Dumbledore, the protection of Draco.When the scene was over I did not care about the big reveal regarding final horcrux. I was just exhausted and astonished by the tragedy of Snape's life. And then I was furious. I was shocked when I saw Dobby's fate but this was far worse. The man who risked his life and soul every day for years dies and this is it. No reward, no love, no happiness. For a story written for kids (at least at first) that is a cruel punch in the heart.
Other acting stand outs include Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter who clearly have a lot of fun playing ruthless villains. Carter does particularly impressive job, in the beginning of the movie, where Hermione changes into Bellatrix to access her vault. We also get to see Michael Gambon again in surreal sequence in limbo, which also contains quite possible the scariest image of all the series. I jumped on my seat because I wasn't expecting something like this during the movie for showing of which kids bring fake wands and wear wizard hats. The series was always very good with giving the actors scenes to shine. This time it was Helen McCrory's turn. In a quick scene she steals the spotlight completely. That brings me to another point – the various kinds of love the series shown us. Among them one kind is particularly noticeable – mother's love. Lily's sacrifice, Moly Weasley's fury and Narcissa's courage. All to protect their kids. Everything the characters do that leads Harry to ultimate win over Voldemort is motivated by love. Perhaps the biggest magic of all.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2” is the series best movie, with spellbinding score from Alexandre Desplat (“Courtyard apocalypse”!), beautiful performances, astonishing CGI and powerful story. Is our childhood over? Perhaps. But thanks to the series we all had the luck of growing up with a little bit of magic in our lives.

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