Movie Reviews: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 + 2

It occurred to me that I never did review the first half of the last Harry Potter movie.  I think that movie came out after I’d decided not to do any more movie reviews.  But now that I’ve decided to start writing those again (mostly as a ploy to prove that my interests span beyond just anime and manga), I might as well make up for my oversight last year.  And since the two movies are actually parts of a single movie, and not individual movies in their own rights, I find it appropriate to review them at once.

And yes, I did watch part one before going to see the finale.  So I do remember enough of it to write an objective review.

Part of the reason that I didn’t write a review last year, besides not writing movie reviews anymore, was that I couldn’t figure out what to say exactly.  Part One wasn’t bad, but it left me feeling unsatisfied.    And it wasn’t really what most people complain about, the parts in the tent didn’t drag as much as I thought.  And there were parts of the movie that I really loved, like the animated segment when the history of the Deathly Hallows is explained.  But for some reason the movie just didn’t feel satisfying.

This is partially because the movie really isn’t a complete movie.  There’s no ending, just a to be continued…  It’s like reading a serialized work, while each individual chapter may run the range from good to excellent, it’s never quite the same as reading a book from start to end.  Seeing the conclusion is what makes a narrative satisfying, and without the conclusion the viewers inevitably leave the movie theater feeling unfulfilled.

This isn’t helped by how the emotional climax of the movie, Dobby’s death, fails to deliver the full emotional impact.  Don’t get me wrong, it was sad, but we haven’t seen him since the second movie.  Knowing that he was in the books for most of the series, and that the death was sad in the book just doesn’t cut it.  This is a movie, its emotional scenes need to be built up during the movie.  The scene was sad, but only really if you’ve read the book.  No movie should require additional reading to make it accessible.

I think that’s what damages the movie overall for me, it ends on what should be a sad note, but fails to really get me just because it wasn’t properly set up.  In the books Dobby was a friend Harry had known for years.  In the movies Dobby was the Jar Jar Binks of the series, who was thankfully restricted to one movie.  Now if only Jar Jar had met the same fate Dobby did…

Part 2 is dark.  Very, very, very dark.  War rages for most of the movie, and characters are dying left and right.  George (or was it Fred?) dies, as well as that girl Ron dated in the Half-blood Prince.  Lupin and Tonks both die, leaving their young child an orphan…  Wait…she was pregnant?  Okay, so that was sort of mentioned during the first part, but only if you were really paying attention.  Still, she certainly didn’t look pregnant, and apparently enough time passed in-between when we last saw her that she went through her entire pregnancy and gave birth.  How much time passed in this movie!?  Dammit, what did I say about additional reading!?

That aside, this really is a dark movie.  Mostly because I can’t see what’s going on.  Seriously, most of the movie is shot during the night, causing a bit of strain on the eye.  Not much that can be done about that, but the movie always makes sure that we see what’s necessary.  Still, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that spends most of its time in the dark.  Besides the obvious example.

Out of all the Harry Potter movies this one is by far the absolute best.  No competition.  Fact of the matter is, most of us love a good action packed story, especially when all the character development took place in other movies.  But besides that, all the right emotional notes were hit.  I myself found my eyes tearing up, and heaven knows I never let myself be affected emotionally by some made up story.

Besides a few minor nit picks, this movie ended the Harry Potter franchise on a high note, and left the audience thinking fondly of what has been a lifetime experience for some.  Will I miss it?  Not entirely, I think it better that we end strong, rather than wishing for more.  And for those obsessive types, like myself, it’s time to move on to the next big series.  Not sure what it is yet, but I for one at least recommend One Piece.  It won’t be going anywhere for a long time, so you’ll have many a year to obsess over it.  And with weekly chapter and episode releases, there isn’t as much of a wait as there was for Harry Potter.

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