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Harry Potter and The Lengthy Denouement

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2

Is this how you want to spend your Friday night?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 ends with big wizard battle

– by Clinton Hallahan

For those interested, our print of Harry Potter did not have The Dark Knight Rises trailer attached. I’m not sure if that means that Canada got the shaft in that respect or we just got unlucky. Now to the review.

The world of Harry Potter has ended up outstripping the talents of its two primary creative minds. Author J.K. Rowling had the juice to create a spectacular world. Tenured director David Yates took that world and made it visual for longer than anyone else. But neither did full justice to the Wizarding World on which they collaborated to realize. Granted, they could hardly compete with the collective imaginations of their fan legion, but they could have got a little closer, I think. With the final entry into the (deservedly called epic) film franchise, the cracks and exhaustion start to show as “It All Ends” not with a bang but a wheeze.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.

Remember this guy?

For those familiar with the book series, the second half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is essentially The Battle of Hogwarts. For those unfamiliar, it’s a bunch of wizards trying to kill each other for two hours or so. Seems like a slam dunk, right? Well, as Michael Bay taught us with giant robots trying to kill each other, things can go horribly wrong with sure things.

When given an unlimited supply of cash to make the capper to a franchise, why not put some money into commissioning a stellar script? While the quality of cinematography in the series experienced a significant jump between Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows Pt. I, the writing has not seen a similar improvement.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix still image.

HP orders up a phoenix.

Had they improved in tandem, we would probably be hearing incredulous Oscar buzz for a Harry Potter movie. That is the height of the anticipation and subsequent depth of the disappointment Deathly Hallows Pt. II inspires. Salting the wound is the obscuring of a dark, moody visual landscape with the most useless 3D ever slapped on a major blockbuster.

Throughout the series, Yates’ direction has seen improvements (such as the abandonment of the expository montages of the wizarding newspaper The Daily Prophet) but he still can’t juice performances out of his principals or make us buy that they care about each other. He’s workmanlike, and as in the Superman films of yore he’s giving no spectacle to characters that should be spectacular.

Deathly Hallows is flashy, but the movie never makes you care. The nicely plotted romances (including Harry’s own, which was expertly realized by Rowling) that were sacrificed to the gods of poorly shot action set-pieces have no cheques to cash in the final installment, and every moment where a death or a long-awaited kiss should hit us in the gut fall embarrassingly flat. Rowling used the entirety of the previous installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to get us as close as possible to the characters we spent a decade with so that, when the body count started rising, we would give a damn. Instead, moviegoers will be nodding off as Yates pads Deathly Hallows‘ 156-minute running time with fake peril and false emotion.

Helena Bonham Carter in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Helena Bonham Carter working hard for her money in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

With every negative Harry Potter review comes a chorus of “oh, it’s for kids, calm down.” Equally loud is the laudatory “Harry Potter grew up with it’s audience which is why it’s so great.” Both are valid in certain degrees, but they obscure the real truth about this film – it’s boring. It is a film about wizards killing each other and it’s boring. [Judge for yourself: you can find the Harry Potter trilogy collection on Meijer.]

Way back when the last book in the series came out, the hope was that a major marquee director might come on for the finale. Maybe Terry Gilliam, the original hopeful for the series would sign up, or Alfonso Cuaron (who directed the series best in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) would return.

They didn’t, and we got stuck with Yates, a studio plant with no backbone to demand better of his producers, actors and screenwriters. And here we are.

Still image from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Potter and crew in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

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