Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Movie Information

The Story: The final entry in the Harry Potter series and the big showdown between Harry and Voldemort is here. The Lowdown: A strong, worthy last chapter in the remarkable run of 10 years of Harry Potter movies. Not the best in the series, but not too far off and essential for anyone who cares about the story or the characters.
Score:

Genre: Horror Fantasy
Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes
Rated: PG-13

And so it ends—and a worthy ending to 10-years’ worth of Harry Potter movies Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is. Bearing mind that I haven’t read the book, it did pretty much what I expected it to do, and what I wanted it to do. As such, I have virtually no complaints with the film, apart from the fact that the opening was on the clunky side and that unlike the very best films in the series, it never really surprised me very much. That’s actually a fairly minor complaint for a film like this, which is geared to pulling everything together and having characters meet the various fates they’ve been moving toward for seven—or six-and-a-half, if you prefer—entries. The fact that it doesn’t appear to end six times only to go to another scene—like the climactic film in a certain fantasy trilogy did—is decidedly on the plus side.

I suspect that my problem with the film’s opening lies in the fact that Part 2 is in fact—well, part two. In that regard, it doesn’t have a real opening. It simply kind of starts, and its first big sequence—gaining entry to Bellatrix Lestrange’s (Helena Bonham Carter) bank vault didn’t entirely work for me. Parts of it were fine, but overall, the film didn’t win me over until the introduction of Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith). From that point on, however the film never faltered, even if it occasionally felt like it was checking off items from a laundry list. Then again, how could it not feel like that? What is surprising is the manner in which it managed to give most of the central characters—and some of the not-so-central ones—one or two final moments in which to shine, and how it did so with seeming effortlessness. In some quite remarkable instances, it felt like it was fulfilling character traits suggested as far back as the first film.

Apart from the fact that it ultimately comes down to the big battle between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes)—which we knew the film had to do—it becomes a difficult film to write about in specifics because doing so gives away more than is in the story’s favor. Even though the story plays out about the way I expected it to, I can’t say that I knew exactly how it would be handled. Yeah, I’ve known since the first film that the characters would not end up being quite what they seem. One character in particular has always been clearly set up to do an about face before all was said and done, but I neither expected the nastiness of his demise, nor the degree to which he would become an heroic and tragic figure.

In fact, I think what works best about this final film is how surprisingly moving parts of it are. For an overall story that is grounded in the utterly fantastic world of magic, the human element has remained very strong, but perhaps never so much as it does here. It’s actually possible to feel that something is truly at stake here, because the characters are strong enough, complex enough, and ultimately likable and human enough for us to care what happens to them. That the film manages to do this is remarkable enough. That it manages to do it without too much in the way of shamelessly obvious manipulation is even more so. Part 2 may not be a great film in itself, but as part of a series that achieves cumulative pop-culture greatness, it’s hard to fault. Rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

33 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

  1. Dread P. Roberts

    seven—or six-and-a-half, if you prefer—entries.

    I don’t mean to be snide, but I believe it’s seven books, and eight films.

    As such, I have virtually no complaints with the film, apart from the fact that the opening was on the clunky side and that unlike the very best films in the series, it never really surprised me very much.

    I suspect that the fact I re-watched part 1, prior to going to see this, helped significantly with me not noticing the clunkiness of the opening. It just felt like a perfectly natural continuation. But now that I think about it, you’re right, the opening really wouldn’t work so well on it’s own at all.

    That said, what I loved so much about this movie, was the emotional surprise of one said character. The way in which everything was brought full-circle in one ‘flash back’ struck me as perfectly brilliant writing. It really did surprise me. As a result of that one single impact, I might’ve enjoyed this movie a bit more-so than you did.

    Aside from the fact that the opening really does need part one in order to work at all, this was my favorite of the lot. The pacing, plot, acting… everything seemed to be in top form to me.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I don’t mean to be snide, but I believe it’s seven books, and eight films

    Well, that’s the same thing — seven entries to this one, or 6 1/2, if you consider the last one half a movie, which WB apparently is, since the short name for this is Harry Potter 7.

    I might’ve enjoyed this movie a bit more-so than you did.

    That’s quite possible, but I’m not really complaining about it.

  3. robert

    i do have to agree with you Ken, it wasn’t much of a movie in my view, I normaly don’t like movies that fit within 24 hours, its just not as beleivable for something to end that quickly, also most of the characters are just faces from previous movies, there was no real development of many characters in part besides voldomort and maybe harry slightly, so it was pretty much working off of what they were given in part 1 and all the other movies. This is the first two part movie i have seen though, i don’t know if it can use a get out of jail card on this one because its part 2 of 2 movies and if i were to look at both part 1 and 2 as a whole i think it would be a great movie but just looking at part 2 alone, its hard to call it spectacular.

    though i would want to point something out to you ken, the ending of last book and movie shows everyone married, grown up, and having babies with eachother, difference is in the book it was just the parents talking about their lives(to make it seem like they all live happily ever after) but in the movie something else happened. they replicated the one of the first sense of the first book, if you watch the first time our adventurors enter the train, it looks exactly like the last scene of part 2, small children going into on train to the magical school of hogwarts, i know i’m just guessing and shooting theories around but i think JK Rowling has finally gotten bored like most rich people do and is wanting to get back to work. What she will do i’m not sure but she has left a door open in case she does decide to do something else, but just my humble stipulation

  4. Ken Hanke

    i do have to agree with you Ken, it wasn’t much of a movie in my view

    Then you’re not exactly agreeing with me, because I didn’t mean to imply that I thought it wasn’t much of a movie.

    if i were to look at both part 1 and 2 as a whole i think it would be a great movie but just looking at part 2 alone, its hard to call it spectacular

    Well, it’s not like it’s intended to be a stand-alone film. And it’s kind of hard to judge it as such. I doubt it would even make sense to anyone not familiar with the overall story.

    i think JK Rowling has finally gotten bored like most rich people do and is wanting to get back to work.

    I think it would be fairer to say that WB is hoping for that. If, as you say, the book doesn’t end this way, then it would seem more their idea and that of screenwriter Steve Kloves, since Rowling didn’t write the film. And Clapton knows, they’re not looking forward to killing the biggest cash cow ever.

  5. Dread P. Roberts

    Well, that’s the same thing—seven entries to this one, or 6 1/2, if you consider the last one half a movie, which WB apparently is, since the short name for this is Harry Potter 7.

    I misunderstood. Upon first reading, I thought you were including the final film.

    most of the characters are just faces from previous movies, there was no real development of many characters in part besides voldomort and maybe harry slightly.

    See, I don’t understand that complaint from people. Maybe it’s because that’s sort of what I was initially expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by the character development; particularly of Severus Snape and Neville Longbottom. Both of those characters seemed more involved than in any of the previous entries. As an Alan Rickman fan, I was especially pleased to see him get some spotlight.

  6. Ken Hanke

    See, I don’t understand that complaint from people. Maybe it’s because that’s sort of what I was initially expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by the character development; particularly of Severus Snape and Neville Longbottom.

    That’s pretty much my thought. I’d say that there’s some development with Dumbledore, too. I suspect this may seem less apparent to people who’ve read the books. Then again, I don’t know that you haven’t.

  7. Dread P. Roberts

    I suspect this may seem less apparent to people who’ve read the books. Then again, I don’t know that you haven’t.

    No, I have not read the books; so your theory may be valid for all I know. I once tried a decade ago, and soon gave up, under the realization that I simply didn’t care enough to bother. At the time, I believe there were other things I was more interested in reading.

  8. Ken Hanke

    No, I have not read the books; so your theory may be valid for all I know.

    Bear in mind, I’m just guessing because I haven’t read them either.

  9. srakers

    I’ve read the books and found, overall, that the last movie was rushed. While there were many very moving scenes, they did not have the same impact on me as they did in the book. Also, this movie reminded me of another HP movie- think it was the fifth- where there’s very little dialogue between the characters. The Order of the Phoenix hardly has a presence in the film- except for two dramatic occurences which get rushed through. And Harry, Hermione, and Ron barely speak to one another, really. I just feel that there were many lost cinematic opportunities. Essentially, I think this movie should have been longer. I felt sorta cheated, I guess. Not to say, I don’t recognize the merits of the film.

  10. Dread P. Roberts

    Cheated? Really? They split the book into two separate parts, clocking in at over four and a half hours. I’d imagine most people would be thrilled to have their beloved book given that kind of royal treatment, for a film adaptation.

  11. Ken Hanke

    People — some people — have a tendency not to be willing for a film to be different from the source material. I’ve never gotten that myself. I’m also not clear on how more dialogue among the three main characters would be likely to offer cinematic opportunities.

  12. robert

    I normally dislike the fact that people get mad at movies for not being like the book. Two hours can’t fit in a normal 400 page book and its stupid to get upset about leaving things out cause it isn’t possible. Also Harry potter didn’t leave much out with 4 hours and i think they did the best job they could do putting the story together. The thing that people are probably getting upset about is how the movie focused itself. The producers and director decided to focus more time on certian parts of the book more than others, If they decided to focus on each part of the book the movie would have felt bipolar and unorganized, there is always a problem with movies trying to add to much and they knew that. Books and movies are made diffrently and to make it the same exact thing is impossible. Also one thing about the last part being rushed is kind of true for the book as well, The thing most people forget about the book is the final battle was also put in set one day.

  13. DrSerizawa

    Well, I haven’t read the books. My wife has. We both thought the movie a fitting end to the series. Like the other popular fantasy series, the filmmakers have to come up with something that pleases both the fans and the general public. That can be a tough juggle and IMHO they pulled it off admirably.

    BTW, Ken, just be glad that Jackson decided to leave out “The Scouring Of The Shire” chapter for the ending of LOTR would have been reeeaaallllyyy long. Though he sort of had no choice but to drag it out as he did or face the wrath of the fans.

  14. Dread P. Roberts

    Ken, just be glad that Jackson decided to leave out “The Scouring Of The Shire” chapter for the ending of LOTR would have been reeeaaallllyyy long. Though he sort of had no choice but to drag it out as he did or face the wrath of the fans.

    I completely agree. I have actually read the LOTR books. It’s funny, because with each deceptive ending for Return of the King I kept thinking, “are they going to leave that out?” Meanwhile, there was amusement to be found from people cheering when the screen went blank, and then the film would continue, again and again. It was too funny for me to really be that annoyed. Still, by the time the fifth or sixth ending started up, even I was saying to myself, “please just let it end already; I don’t care what they leave out!”

    Despite the knowledge that one should separate book from film, I suppose none of us can really help to have some degree of tie-in, when we’ve read the book. It’s just a natural reaction. However, people should still watch film adaptations with the realization that there will ALWAYS be certain things that differ, and just try not to get too upset over little details. It’s inevitable that something is going to be left out, or altered a little.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Ah, for the old days when Ben Hecht bragged that his screenplay for Design for Living retained exactly one line of Noel Coward’s dialogue! (Truth is, I think Hecht improved it.)

  16. Part 1 is the slow lift up to the top of the roller coaster and Part 2 is the rest of the ride, or the ride itself. It’s thrilling and well paced, and though the solving of the story’s final mysteries threaten to bog down the film’s energy, the richness of the characters and the story overall keeps these non-battle sequences just as exciting as the Battle of Hogwarts itself.

    Still, there’s rarely the sense that the main characters are in much danger. (The off-screen deaths of several prominent characters in Parts 1 & 2 don’t help.) My main gripe (overall, a fairly minor one) with the series, and any series named after the central character, is that with each film you know Harry is going to survive. Even though allies fall and danger abounds (both of which do their best to jeopardize Harry’s existence), his safety is virtually ensured. However, the story manages to subvert these inherent limitations quite well in Part 2′s final half hour.

    Anyone seen it in both 3D and 2D? The visual depth of 3D was enjoyable, and I’m glad I saw it in that format, but the story and action sequences are strong enough that it doesn’t seem essential.

  17. Bert

    As a Horror fan, I really thought the scene involving the snake and Mr. Rickman was amazing.

  18. robert

    there is one thing i would like to say, and its more of personal taste then viewing technical problems. My Favorite harry potter movie was the 5th one. One of the large reasons was the awesome one on one with albus and lord voldormort, i think it would have been ten times more epic if there were longer structured one on one battles, yes there were a couple of them but they were rushed and not as complex. They seemed to want to make it an army vs army battle which is entertaing and probably fits better into the movie but not my favorite flavor. Also even though harry vs voldormort was acceptable by my standards, it wasn’t as good as albus’s battle :) I personally wouldn’t have minded them adding ten minutes to make the one on one battles more epic. lol but thats just me :)

  19. Ken Hanke

    As a Horror fan, I really thought the scene involving the snake and Mr. Rickman was amazing.

    I’d wondered if anyone else was impressed with that.

  20. Ken Hanke

    Anyone seen it in both 3D and 2D? The visual depth of 3D was enjoyable, and I’m glad I saw it in that format, but the story and action sequences are strong enough that it doesn’t seem essential.

    I wish I’d seen it in 2D. This is one of the few films where the 3D actually gave me a headache.

  21. Ken Hanke

    I love it more than Salt.

    That’s comforting, but did you love it more than Transformers?

  22. I wish I’d seen it in 2D. This is one of the few films where the 3D actually gave me a headache.

    It was the first full 3D show I’d seen outside of one at an aquarium when I was 14. Thought I might not do so well with this one, but thankfully the trailers helped me adjust. After the HUGO preview I was fine.

  23. kimboronni

    Ok, so in 2003, I finally broke down and started reading the Harry Potter series because my piano students were so insistent about my reading them! I will say, for those who haven’t read them, I highly suggest it. I’m certain there are a lot of other important works on your “To Read” list, but this series has the attention of todays’ young readers… and they’re not always an easy read. I read the 3rd book, Prisoner of Azkaban, in 4 hours! However, I had to look up words in the last two volumes… and not because the words were part of a spell!!! So take a look, it’s in a book…

    Oh yeah, and I totally agree on the clunky opening of this final film. I’m certain it was difficult for those who haven’t been staying caught up. If you haven’t seen Deathly Hallows Part 1, or haven’t seen it since last year, watch it before seeing Part 2.

  24. SPOILERS AHOY

    I liked this, but to be honest, I’d have rather had one three hour movie. This one probably could’ve been half the length had they cut down on the technobabble.

    I’m glad they resisted the temptation to bring Gambon back from the dead, even though I felt the absence of his screen presence through the film in a way I didn’t in Part 1. I agree that things perked up a bit once Maggie Smith reentered the proceedings.

    The biggest acting achievement of the entire franchise may be Rickman getting us to take Snape seriously despite the ridiculous haircut he’s been saddled with throughout the series.

    Can anyone tell me how Radcliffe came back from the dead? Was it the gem that let him see David Thewlis?

    On a more positive note, the cast was great, the score was great, it was tremendously visually atmospheric (although I feel sorry for anyone who saw it in 3D, where it must have looked like a radio play for most of the running time) and the action sequences were legitimately thrilling.

    And it could only seem even better by comparison with the godawful trailers we were served up beforehand. I was expecting THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, but instead was treated to TWINKLIGHT trailer, which engendered actual laughter from much of the audience.

  25. Tonberry

    I have a feeling that this will become a tad underrated when it comes to the Harry Potter films. On a second viewing, I was surprised on how well it held up after the sugar rush of the first viewing.

  26. Ken Hanke

    I was expecting THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

    We got Rises and I have to say it made no impression on me.

  27. Ken Hanke

    On a second viewing, I was surprised on how well it held up after the sugar rush of the first viewing.

    I didn’t get a “sugar rush” on the first viewing. I have a hunch that this might well be one of those movies that work better when you know where they’re going. (That actually describes a lot of movies for me.)

  28. kimboronni

    “We got Rises”

    Did we? It looked like a bunch of footage from Dark Knight, with replacement of Aaron Eckhart’s Two Face!

  29. Ken Hanke

    Did we? It looked like a bunch of footage from Dark Knight, with replacement of Aaron Eckhart’s Two Face!

    Maybe that’s why it made no impression on me.

  30. Sean Kelley

    I agree with the commenter who mentioned the film working better on the second viewing. The first time I saw it, I thought it was solid, but wasn’t blown away; the second time, I loved it.

    I’m going to make a bold claim – one I don’t expect many to agree with me on. “Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ is the second greatest fantasy thriller of all time. The only film of its genre I’ve seen that surpasses it is “Pan’s Labyrinth.” People can go on for hours about the “LOTR” films being fantasy’s greatest achievement, but in my opinion, they were merely solid – certainly not Oscar worthy. The “Harry Potter” films always remained focused on the three central characters throughout – Ron, Hermione, and Harry. I actually cared about them. I can’t really say the same for Frodo and Samwise – in fact, I found both of them fairly annoying, and found every other character to be incredibly one-note, with perhaps the exception of Gollum and Gandalf (and maybe Boromir, but they killed him off in the first movie). “LOTR” was always about epic battles; “Harry Potter” was more about the consequences of the battles (seriously, have you seen another blockbuster with such a melancholy tone, even during its most triumphant moments?). For those reasons, I believe “LOTR,” and the vast majority of fantasy films in general, could never match the achievements of “Harry Potter.”

    But that’s just me.

  31. ckukka

    Jeremy Dylan,

    Hi! Voldemort fired off an Avada Kedavra at Harry which killed the last horcrux- the one Voldie didn’t know he made (Harry’s baby scar) thus killing the last remaining part of Voldemort’s own soul- that part that had attached itself to Harry when Lily Potter was murdered. Voldemort’s soul took a good portion of the killing curse intended for Harry. However Harry was willing to die in order to protect the rest of the world from Voldemort, thus he made the same sort of sacrifice that his mother had made to protect him, except Harry did it for everyone and ended up surviving his ‘death.’ The scene in the station with Albus was his near death experience. Hope that helped.

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