A review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
August 29, 2011
Who Let the Helium Out of My Balloon?
The last in the Harry Potter movie series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 answers many questions about Harry Potter and his magical gang of teenaged students of magic. Unfortunately, what came in with a bang goes out with a whimper in this final installment of a much-loved series.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 picks up where Deathly Hallows: Part 1 left off, and there is little recap to reorient the audience to the story. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has to find the other horcruxes in order to kill Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and save the world from his reign of terror. His friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) help him find and destroy the horcruxes.
After the last Harry Potter movie, I was a little more excited than I am comfortable admitting to see Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Unfortunately, I was let down. It was not the visuals that let me down—they were stunning. My attention was captured by the captivating whiz-bang animation and effects. The makeup was deceptively natural in the best way. The green screen background scenes were not flawless but were good enough that I spent most of the movie with my disbelief in full suspension.
The actors did not let me down either. For the most part, the acting was delightfully inconspicuous. Daniel Radcliffe was the only person who let me down with an occasional helping of melodramatic over acting that he cannot blame on the content of the plot.
In fact, that is the issue. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 should be a gluttonous collection of highly dramatic scenes because it is the climax of a saga of extremely popular films and the second half of its own two-part series of the movies. It was supposed to wrap up the characters enough that we feel satisfied that we know enough about them that we can leave them to their lives without feeling an overwhelming sense of loss (such as what any good Brown Coat feels about Firefly).
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 should have been full of overwhelming gravitas and drama; it should have been spectacular enough to live up to the legend. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has so little drama (and no plot magnificence) that the audience is left with a severe case of the ho-hums when they leave the theater. The story might as well have stayed finished and not been told at all.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 reminded me of the time I received a balloon from a friend for my birthday. The problem was not that it was only a balloon; the problem was that it was a simple latex balloon that had been left in her car for over twenty-four hours in hot summer weather. By the time the balloon finally got to me, it was only half inflated. While it did still technically float, it only sort of bobbed up and down, trying to keep itself upright but being tugged by the weight of its silly blue ribbon. It did not float proudly above my head as a beacon of my specialness. It just sagged in front of my face, a tribute to the effects of gravity on my body.
Someone let the helium out of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Instead of being a high-flying tribute to the Harry Potter series of movies, it just hovered at eye level with a terribly unimpressive plot. There are so many events going on at once that there is no plot development on any single event. Speaking only of content, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 feels like an endless, slowed-down montage.
Adding to the lackadaisical mood is the fact that the filmmakers did so little recap. If one has not watched Deathly Hallows: Part 1 immediately before viewing Deathly Hallows: Part 2, it is nearly impossible to fully understand what is happening. It is inexcusable, no matter how popular the series of films, to make a half movie and charge the audience full price for the ticket.
Standing on its own, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 cannot be considered a complete movie by any standard. It has no beginning, feels as if it starts in the middle of something (because it does), and has no climax. It just ends in a cinematic plateau.
I do not think the Christian Right in this country had anything to worry about with the Harry Potter series of films. They just had to wait for the last one and they would be satisfied that the drop off in filmmaker enthusiasm would be enough to save their poor precious little ones from the scourge that is simulated, fictional witchcraft. I certainly no longer care.