Saturday, July 16, 2011
HP7ATDHP2 Is a Long Acronym.
There are some movies that it is pointless to review. If I say this is the greatest movie ever made, I won't convince anyone who doesn't have any desire to see it to go see it. If I say it is the worst movie I have ever seen, I don't stop anyone from going. At this point, everyone knows if they'll go or if they won't.
I went to the 7PM showing, in 2D at the Mohegan Lake theater. And my theater was packed. I haven't been to a theater with a crowd like this since "The Dark Knight" and I know the three other showings they had were equally as packed. We got a lot of weird ads. They had an ad for the sound system in the theater and called it "The Best Picture You Ever Heard" and I turned to my brother and said "and the best sound I have ever seen." Most of the trailers we got looked like crap. "Sherlock Holmes 2" could be fun. And I cannot wait for "The Dark Knight Rises." I was really happy to see that teaser.
Now, before I discuss the movie, I should explain my background with this franchise. I resisted it for many, many years. No interest, and the sheer popularity of it turned me off. People I love and respect were recommending it to me for years. Finally, while on summer break from college, in 2006, I broke down and bought the first book. "The Sorcerer's Stone" was... adequate. I didn't like it, or hate it. But it had promise. I bought the second book and felt largely the same. From the third book on, I really came to like it, and bought them all up to the sixth book. I enjoyed them all, and went back and watched the movies.
I hated the first two movies, but then I am not a fan of the works of Chris Columbus and was glad he left the franchise. From the third movie on, it got better. I know a lot of people have issues with the third movie, but I don't. Alfonso Cuarón is a brilliant director and I thought he saved the film franchise and really established how this series should look. And then, I was happy that David Yates took over from the fifth movie onward, because it was nice to have a consistent directorial vision.
"Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part Two" is a unique experience, I have never before watched a movie that was an extended climax. I am sure somewhere out there is an individual who has never seen a single Harry Potter movie, or read a single book. I would be interested to ask what they thought, and ask what's the matter with them. Well, this could help...
As for this movie? I loved it. I had a great time watching it. It was almost everything I wanted it to be. I had just one quibble, but it was a minor one. I would have liked to have seen Dumbledore's back story explained better. It was hinted at, but there really wasn't room for it, and I understand why it was cut.
The Battle of Hogwarts was spectacular. They pulled no punches physically or emotionally. There were moments that were brutal. It's a very violent film. And it needed to be. This is war. This is what war looks like, whether it's fought with guns or magic wands. War has to have cost, and that cost has to be painful. Or else that's not real.
Ralph Fiennes was at the top of his game as Lord Voldemort. If you want to hire an actor who will terrify your audience, Fiennes is your man. In the hands of most other actors, this is a character who could have easily descended into camp. Pure evil is very hard to pull off and make threatening instead of comical. It is also hard to make an interesting character that is, easily, pure evil. But Voldemort is interesting, and Ralph Fiennes really becomes it. I don't scare easily, certainly never at a "kid's movie," and there were moments when he scared even me. I liked him in all of his previous appearances as Voldemort, but he really, really steals the show here.
His final duel with Harry is an area where I think the movie definitely improved upon the book. When I read the book, my feeling was "that's it?" But here, they really made up for it and made it as epic and breathtaking as it needed to be. Likewise Neville's big scene with Nagini. That snake wasn't so easy to kill this time, which really added to the suspense of the whole thing. But I suppose this is an area where film has an advantage over the written word.
My favorite character in the series has always been Severus Snape, and his story in this was truly moving. I heard stories about people crying during this part of the movie, and I can see why. It was truly heartbreaking. He is such a great character. Loved him in the books, love Alan Rickman as an actor, and this was a match made in Heaven. I could write an entire blog entry on this subject, but it was perfect. And his death was so brutal, you shudder when it happens.
If you like Neville Longbottom, you will love this. He gets several huge moments in this movie. From killing a bridge full of Death Eaters, to slaying Nagini. And I also really loved Molly Weasley's "Ellen Ripley" moment. You'll know it when you see it, or if you already read the books, you already know it.
The scene where Voldemort "kills" Harry was described to me this morning by a friend of mine as if they reached into her brain and put her mental image on screen. It's a powerful and iconic image, because I agreed with her. Exactly as I imagined it.
Just about every character got a moment to shine, so if you have a favorite, I think they were well represented. There are two moments with Remus Lupin and Tonks that I really liked, you'll know them when you see them.
I thought everything about the epilogue was well done except for the makeup. Those characters did not look nineteen years older. But it was a nice, hopeful message to leave on, especially after all the death and carnage of the previous scene.
There is so much in this movie to talk about, I cannot find the room to fit it all in without this review becoming an even more chaotic mountain of jumbled thoughts than it already is. Both parts of "Deathly Hallows" together make up my favorite film installment of this franchise. I think giving this chapter that much more time was exactly what was needed to conclude this series properly.
I give this a solid A. So, go see HP7ATDHP2. And if you like 3D, go see HP7ATDHP2I3D. Or, if you really, really want to go nuts, go see HP7ATDHP2I3DIMAX.