Since Chris is currently away at San Diego Comic Con embracing his Inner Comic Nerd Mecca, and since I am still working on my review for Brent Weeks THE BLACK PRISM I thought I’d put up my review for the latest HARRY POTTER film. That would be Part II of THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, which I saw last Friday (and coincidentally which I am going to see tonight again).
The first part of HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, like the book it’s based on, is basically set-up for the ending. That’s not a bad thing at all mind you, as the first part (which came out last summer) was everything I wanted it to be. It was emotional, dramatic, action-packed and most of all completely enthralling for 2 ½ hours.
Well if Part I was the setup, Part II is the payoff. Everything about this film from the get-go just works. The heroes are beaten down, bedraggled and nearly broken. The villains are utterly triumphant and are basically running the wizarding world to their own ends. In fact to Voldemort himself and his cabal of generals he’s all but won. The magical world is war torn and under a basic Nazi-style rule where the heroes either have to conform or die. Harry, Ron and Hermione are still abroad as they begin looking for the next Horcrux in the quest to destroy all Voldemort’s soul pieces in an attempt to make him vulnerable. Their quest leads them through a series of scenes in the Goblin Bank in Diagon Alley (which I won’t spoil) where they find a goblet Horcrux, only to find out that the next Horcrux is something that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw (founder of that house) and is very likely at Hogwarts. So finally, after hiding out and disaparating around the wilderness to avoid detection for months they set out to return home.
The Hogwarts they left behind is entirely changed. With Snape in charge and twin Death Eaters the Carrows in charge of discipline the magical school resembles a police state where ill behavior is punished swiftly and brutally. Thankfully, our three heroes upon trying to sneak into the school undetected, are met by a surprise. The remnants of Dumbledore’s Army (seemingly led by Neville, Ginny and Luna Lovegood) have taken refuge in the Room Of Requirement and have been quietly waging a war of their own against their oppressors. Snape gives a speech in the Great Hall where he says that he has heard that Harry and Co. are back and that anyone hiding them will be punished severely. So Harry walks right into the Great Hall (with Ron, Hermione and the remnants of the Order Of The Phoenix) and challenges Snape about Dumbledore’s death….to which Professor McGonagal duels with Snape (one of the most BADASS scenes in the movie, Maggie Smith FTW!) and Snape (outmatched) flees. Voldemort, using his link to Harry finds out they are at the school and speaks to everyone en masse saying that if they turn over Harry to him no one will be harmed. The school responds in kind, with the help of the Order they cast protective shells about the school so the mass of thousands of Death Eaters, Giants and Trolls can’t get in.
Thus begins the second half of the movie. The famed Battle Of Hogwarts. I don’t want to talk about this at all as I want people to just be able to experience it for themselves. However, I want you to know that it rivals anything I’ve seen before in a fantasy battle sequence. It is EVERYTHING I wanted it to be, just utterly stunning to behold in every facet. The revelations that come in that second hour (for those who have read the book, you are aware) are staggering, well acted, and most of all entirely emotionally draining. I’ve always praised the scripts for these films, but I think the one for both parts of THE DEATHLY HALLOWS have entirely outdone themselves. Nothing is overdone and everything feels apt and homage to the source material. J.K. Rowling should be endlessly pleased that her book series was treated with such reverence over the last ten years, and was acted by some of the greatest thespians that Britain has EVER produced. The pedigree within these films is incredible. Think about it, in one film you have Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Jason Issacs, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Warwick Davis, and Cieran Hinds. Add to that all the kids that have grown up populating the students of this world, and that is an impressive list. And they all do their part to make this film such a fantastic achievement, not only in film (8 films in the series over ten years with the same stars), but in storytelling and human drama.
Consider me wholly satisfied by it (as a monstrous fan of the books) and the draw to see it again is strong. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t go out and see this film. Even casual fans can enjoy this.
I’d also like to note something about the box office. This film annihilated records over its opening weekend. It took the title for largest midnight screenings (both regular and IMAX), the largest take for opening day, and the largest opening weekend worldwide EVER. Seriously. It took in $476 Million over 3 days. That is probably nearly DOUBLE what it cost to make…in One WEEKEND. The logistics of that actually humble me.
…and it totally deserves every accolade. So do yourself a favour, take a few hours, get out of this ridiculous heat (In Toronto it is 48 degrees Celsius with the humidity!) and see this summers must see movie.