| The Red Right Hand
**I'm not going to bother with spoiler warnings, it would be too hard to pen this without giving away massive plot details. If you haven't seen the movie, don't bother with this review until you have**
Curiously enough, writing this review is proving to be quite difficult. Having looked over my comments on Deathly Hallows: Part I it would be easier to just copy and paste the content. Trying not to repeat myself is going to be a taxing task.
With Voldemort [Ralph Fiennes] in possession of the Elder Wand and Snape [Alan Rickman] now headmaster at Hogwarts, the wizarding world is very much in turmoil. Harry [Radcliffe], Ron [Grint] and Hermione [Watson], narrowly escaping captivity in the previous film, are now mounting an infiltration of Gringotts bank, to uncover and destroy another horcrux hidden within Bellatrix Lestrange's [Helena Bonham Carter] personal vault. Following this, the group learns that one of the last horcruxes is located within the grounds of Hogwarts and they will have to return in order to destroy it. From there an almighty offensive is mounted and preparations for the last stand take place.
Building on the growing tension and suspense established in the first part, Deathly Hallows Part II escalates to what is essentially the last day or two of the final battle. With so much taking place in such a short space of time, it is immensely pleasing to see how well this crucial epic has been directed. The visuals are spectacular; from the costumes, make-up and set decoration to the computer generated imagery, every element is lush and dripping with a dazzling amount of detail. Additionally, the cinematography ensures that every scene is set and lit beautifully. The editing has also been remarkably well handled, ensuring the pacing never falters and as much exposition, back-story and plot reveals have been incorporated without hindering the main plot flow. But this instalment is dependent almost entirely on the performances, as grand as the visual treatment was, without substantial acting prowess it would have instantaneously crumbled (see the majority of blockbusters released over the last twenty years). After a rocky learning curve, with several young actors and actresses finding their feet, we are finally at the stage where even minor characters can hold their own with multiple award winners and critically acclaimed masters of the trade. As far as writing is concerned, I'm a neutral party (as I've stated multiple times, I've never read the books). And as a neutral party, I can't help but applaud Steve Kloves for the tremendously difficult task of adapting the script. Granted, there are a handful of details that were omitted but unlike previous releases, an almighty wealth of information has been conveyed that should assuage die-hard fans of the book. Right? Well, no. The biggest argument behind negative feedback is still that certain details were left out or slightly altered. I'll admit, the absence of Dumbledore's backstory was glazed over but with everything else going on, I actually didn't mind. As useful as the exposition might have been, it would have severely disjointed the pacing -- an open confession to the fans seems to appear in the script itself as Harry says, 'I don't care about you and I don't care what he has done. I trusted the man I knew'. In other words, it's not important, you've been given enough information to form a conclusion, don't worry about the minor details.
Granted, there are still minor gripes. I was initially frustrated by the '19 years later' makeup, feeling it was applied a little too liberally. It's hard to explain but I was expected to see a significantly older group, with notably deeper voices, not wizened to the degree they resemble old aged pensioners but enough to distance themselves from the characters we've been watching for the last two and a half hours. But then I changed my mind, realising that we have seen these kids grow from the first film and as the changes have been so dramatically noticeable, I was probably expecting something similar; when in actuality, people don't age that much from mid twenties to thirties. The only thing I would have liked is for the actors to be a little taller.. don't know why. Secondly, the 3D element is a gimmick, nothing more. So I have no desire to discuss that at all. But the reason I find myself unable to award this movie a flush ten-out-of-ten is simply because it is the second part of a longer story; it would be no different to pausing something like The Godfather half way through and asking, "What do you think so far?" Combined, I would say that The Deathly Hallows is the most attentive release and had this much effort, care and consideration to detail gone into each and every film, Harry Potter would be a truly flawless series. Subsequently, in its currently divided state, I would say 9/10 is a wholly fitting badge of merit.
I have no doubt that at some point in the future, another adaptation (be it a series of films or HBO-style television event) will probably be attempted but thanks to such a successful series finale, giving even the most pedantic fan significant closure, there will be extremely heavy protesting and it will be rather difficult to top what has already been accomplished. Ultimately, whether you appreciate or dislike these films, it is without question that a solid decade of continually improving filmmaking is not only a rarity but something that has never really happened before (one could argue James Bond but you'd be pushing it) - as such, you may have your issues with certain creative decisions along the way but you have to respect the overall achievement and full impact Harry Potter has had on the cinematic world. And knowing we may not experience something of this nature for a very long time makes me curiously forlorn -- surely, the most fitting of emotions for an exquisitely executed on-screen phenomena.
15th July 2011
The Scene To Look Out For:
Once the trio make their way to Hogwarts, everything pretty much blends into one long series of events. Subsequently, as much as I would like to highlight the analysis of Severus' memories, I was rather pleased with the entire Gringotts infiltration. From the opening bargaining with Griphook [Warwick Davis] and Hermione's use of polyjuice to impersonate Bellatrix, to the climactic dragon-riding breakout, it's a stunning piece of filmmaking - much in the same way that I thoroughly enjoyed the infiltration of the Ministry of Magic in the previous instalment.
There are several prominent and notable performances but three individuals in particular stood out. The first is obviously, Daniel Radcliffe as Potter. I realise a great many fans have a problem with his performance (as fans of source material invariably do) but I think he's come a long way and has developed a commanding presence. Secondly, Alan Rickman is, as ever, delightful to watch but once the audience relives his memories in the pensieve, his performance generates so many additional layers, making him one of the finest characters throughout the series. And finally, Neville Longbottom. Matthew Lewis has been afforded the opportunity to really shine for brief periods and will no doubt endear himself with fans more than ever. I should Ralph Fiennes but I'm not going to. No reason, just not going to.
"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living and above all, pity those who live without love"
In A Few Words:
"Without a doubt the strongest ending to any film series I can think of. An absolutely incredible feat perfectly crowning a decade of stellar cinema"