And that was the end of it all, a decade of Potter madness that permeated my mind and of countless others. While it's undeniable that splitting J.K. Rowling's seventh book into two films was a money-making move by Warner Bros., I say that with what director David Yates gave us, it's justified. Although I am a fan, I'm taking a step back to afford a more objective view of the film I just watched.
By watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), it's already assumed that either you've read all the books, or you've watched all seven films preceding it, or both. There's no time here to explain things anymore. Having been too familiar with the series already, it's a bit difficult to say whether someone with no Potter knowledge whatsoever will enjoy the film. Okay, so maybe not. They may be in for the ride but they surely will only end up asking tons of questions. Who's Harry? Why is Voldemort so mad at him? What are horcruxes? Why can't they be destroyed that easily? What do they need to destroy them? The list goes on. So for the rest of us who are familiar with the Potter universe, let's move on.
I loved how the film started on a quiet note. I appreciated that they took time with Harry, Ron and Hermione in their interrogation with Mr. Ollivander, and then with the goblin Griphook. To me it set the mood right -- somber -- before jumping into the bigger scenes. The Gringott's break-in was satisfying, and I loved how they translated the dragon from the book to the big screen. I actually felt pity for the poor creature. I felt its pain and I was moved by his fear of the clanking sound the goblins made (because they trained him to expect pain when he hears them).
Daniel Radcliffe, who I think is the worst actor of the three (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson being the other two), was actually at his best here. I'm not saying he's become a really good actor but he was just the best that he's been in the series. This time he was more sure of his expressions. They were no longer shallow, and this time I felt him, his emotions.
As always I loved Alan Rickman's Severus Snape. Although there were shots where his eye makeup looked weird and distracting, he was given his moment so the audience would understand him better, his heartbreak and pain, the brave yet suicidal show he's been putting up for Voldemort all along, and why he should be loved instead of being hated upon.
Splitting the book into two films supposedly allowed Part 2 to breathe, to take its time. Well, it did somehow but still, some sequences felt rushed, like the duel between Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange, particularly why it started. Another example was the fiendfyre sequence. I know Vincent Crabbe conjured it and that he realized he couldn't control it, that's why they also ended up in peril. But it didn't come off as that. The uninitiated would probably wonder what just happened there.
Personally I thought the whole film was not that epic. The battle scenes were more protracted than showcased, and it doesn't help that it was not continuous. Maybe it was the editing but the story somehow also called for it. Ironically, it's the more quiet parts where the film was at its strongest. The special effects were reasonably good, a far cry from all the cheap stuff from the first film. The scoring was also commendable, loud enough at the right moments and barely audible when necessary.
While most, if not all, reviews out there are unanimous in praising the film, I'm thinking it's more of a token acclaim because it's the last movie of a series so beloved by many, as was the case with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which I don't seriously think is by leaps and bounds more superior than its predecessors. Having watched all eight films now, I still believe Alfonso Cuaron's The Prizoner of Azkaban is the best film in the Harry Potter series. It was a movie on its own. It was short but with all the key elements of the story present, and with a tightly-knit yet very fluid storytelling. And yet it's the lowest-grossing of them all (why?).
But is Deathly Hallows (Part 2) worth watching? Definitely! Especially if you're a fan. It's the last one for chrissakes! Just don't watch it in 3D as there was nary a genuine 3D experience there. Nothing was really "popping out of the screen" save for the dementors in one scene and when Voldemort was blown into smithereens.
For first-timers, just ask your friends to clear stuff for you. I bet they'll be more than willing to explain things to you. Who knows, you just might want to watch all the other films before it or read all seven books as a result, and become a fan yourself.
Overall I'm still happy with the film. I do hope that this last one will finally break the $1 billion dollar mark in global box office receipts, which none of the previous Potter films has achieved. I hope.