Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthew Lewis
Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a good film, but underwhelmed me. Before I continue, though, you need to know a few things. I am typically underwhelmed by films that I am very excited for, and I was very excited for this film. Also, there has been a non-stop onslaught of press that has added to that excitement and expectation. Like the finale of Seinfeld, it would have been very difficult for this film to live up to the hype. Unlike Seinfeld, I believe after time on second viewing my perception of the film will improve. Another thing you need to know is that I am a big proponent of watching the movie first, then reading the book–you’re never let down. If you love the film, you’ll love the book more because it adds to a world you already care about instead of taking away. By reading the book first you also typically know how everything ends and, in the case of this film, who dies and who lives–taking away some of the emotional punch.
Now that I got my baggage out-of-the-way, what are my thoughts? The film is a three act script, but emotionally it is divided into two parts–before Hogwarts and after. Before the trio arrived at Hogwarts, I was very surprised how unemotionally connected I was to them and what was going on in the film. After they arrived, that changed; more for the small moments than the main Harry/Voldermort conflict.
As an adaptation, Steve Kloves (the screenwriter) did a great job. As a piece of literature The Deathly Hallows book, though an enjoyable read, is weak. The writing is clunky and has too much exposition. In the film, many of the minor characters are given their due with both small moments and large. Long exposition scenes in the books that are necessary for the plot of the film were deftly, creatively, and quickly handled. The ending was also much improved from the book. Whereas Harry is a much more passive figure until the final verbose duel with Voldermort, in the film he is active and the scene much more action packed.
As for the film, David Yates (the director) did a good job. The decision to break the final film into two parts was a good one. You need the first to properly setup the second. The look was great and editing OK.
And what of the characters and the actors performances? They did a good to great job. I thought that Ralph Fiennes was great. The slight changes the screenwriter made to the Voldermort character were excellent choices, and they allowed Ralph to enhance the character. Daniel Radcliffe was good, and he handled the emotional scenes well. The same can be said for both Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. (Side Note: I loved how they had a role reversal where Ron was coming up with the great ideas and Hermione was saying “Brilliant”.) But the stand out for me was Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom. He’s not going to win the Academy Award, but of all the characters in the Harry Potter universe, Neville Longbottom is the one that has come the farthest and changed the most. The audience–myself included–showed their appreciation for the character every time he was on-screen.
P.S. If I had written my rankings of the minor characters after I watched this film, Neville would have been first on the list.