Movie Review Monday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

It is the end of an era, and Mike Finkelstein knows it.  Complete with Hogwarts uniform, his wand, a random owl and a $9.99 broomstick from Bed, Bath and Beyond, he had the honor of seeing the final Harry Potter movie.  Here is his review of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II”

PLOT: Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) return to Hogwarts as the entire school prepares for their final epic battle against evil, and Harry prepares to meet his fate against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  Here it is.  After seven bestselling books and a decade-long journey in film, we have the final closing chapter in the HARRY POTTER franchise.  We have watched Ron, Hermione and Harry grow up from children into young adults, and our generation has grown with them.  And while DEATHLY HALLOWS PART I may have been David Yates’ romance, this final chapter goes out with one hell of a bang.

First off, everything I said in my DEATHLY HALLOWS PART I review still stands here.  It’s amazing to see how far these films have matured.  When you see SORCERER’S STONE and CHAMBER OF SECRETS and compare them to DEATHLY HALLOWS PART I and II, they’re completely different worlds.  That is just a testament to JK Rowling and every director and actor along the way who has helped shape these movies into what they are: a beautiful anthology of growing up.

We pick off minutes after PART I left off: Harry is at Dobby’s grave, and he, Ron and Hermione know they need to find the remaining Horcruxes to finish off Voldemort.  It is the perfect beginning to this final storm: twenty minutes of thunder and lightning (finding a few horcruxes, getting back to Hogwarts) and then the clouds open and the flood begins.

This film may be the shortest out of the entire series at 130 minutes (most entries run close to two-and-a-half hours), but it doesn’t matter, because the action is wall to wall.  Think of this as the climax of one five-hour-long epic, or the ultimate climax of twenty hours of a series.  The battle for Hogwarts is glorious.  It is gritty, the school is relentlessly destroyed, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or a student…anyone can and will die, and seeing some of our favorite characters breathe their last breath to protect their family, their friends, or Harry lets us know how much is at stake.

But where there is darkness, there is always some sort of light.  What makes this movie even more grand is how some of our favorite supporting characters get to take their epic final bows.  Cheers rang out constantly…when Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) finally share that passionate first kiss we’ve been waiting three movies for, it is absolutely adorable.  When Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall calls forth the guardians of Hogwarts and exclaims she’s always wanted to cast that spell, we see a little kid who just stole a cookie from the jar.  When Dumbledore has his final conversation with Harry, we have a sense of calm that only he could bring.  And trust me, those are only a select few moments.

One actor who has really come into his own, though, is Matthew Lewis.  I’m sure it’s the same for the books, but when this little runt named Neville Longbottom appeared in SORCERER’S STONE, we never expected he’d turn into anything.  In this final chapter, he is absolutely pivotal and gets some of the best moments not only in the movie, but in the entire series!  Some hysterical, some charming, and some downright moving, every single one left the audience cheering.  I am so happy JK Rowling paid both Neville and Matthew back tenfold for all the crap he had to deal with when he was little.

With all the praise, I will mention one little flaw: I know certain fans of the book had a major problem with things missing from the movie (from what I remember, this was an issue with many of the past films), and I could completely see where they’re coming from.  They were probably annoyed at some of their favorite parts being exempt or huge explanations being taken for granted.  As someone who has never read the books, there were a few details that had to be explained to me, but those little explanations didn’t take away from how epic the film was by itself.  And let’s be honest…unless you were making a ten part series, there is no way to fit every detail of 784 pages into two movies.

Harry Potter.  It is a name that has defined our generation.  Every book release and opening weekend was an event.  When the final book was released, it was the end of an era.  And now, we have the final curtain call, and it was nothing short of perfect.  After seven books, eight movies, and more than a decade of our lives, I bow to JK Rowling, David Yates, Daniel Radcliffe, and the entire cast and crew for bringing such a joy to so many people.  You, my friends, did it right.

GRADE: A

Mike’s LIKES:

1) DAVID YATES: The man has brought the legend of Harry Potter to a completely new level.  Everyone before him did a great job, but he brought a children’s story and created an epic about good versus evil, and finished it off beautifully.

2) A WORTHY END FOR AN ICONIC CHARACTER: Like I just said…after a decade with “the boy who lived”, the final film that we saw with Mr. Potter was worthy of his greatness.

3) RON AND HERMIONE, AMONG OTHER ROMANCE: Ron and Hermione are so CUTE together!  And so are Harry and Jenny!  And Neville and Luna! Yeah…the film is filled with their cute moments…makes me smile just thinking about it.

4) MATTHEW LEWIS AS NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM: When Neville first appeared as the loveable doofus in SORCERER’S STONE, we never expected he’d come this far.  Matthew Lewis stole every scene he was in, and played a fun, honorable, and charming ally for Harry.

5) THE SUPPORTING CAST: You couldn’t have had such an amazing series without the supporting cast.  From screen legends to young newcomers, the list of amazing actors goes on and on (I’ll redirect you to the IMDb page to see for yourself), and everyone had their moment to shine.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) FITTING ALL THE DETAILS: I completely understood the movie and had a blast with it, but I know I missed out on a lot of details by not reading the books.  Many people who read the books were disappointed with so much left out, and I could see why, but I don’t think there would be any way to fit it all in, unless the movie was split yet again into another two.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) Kate Winslet was first considered for and reportedly offered the role of Helena Ravenclaw. The role was rejected by her agent before she was able to consider it, believing that Winslet would not want to “follow suit with every other actor in Britain by being a part of Harry Potter”.

2) Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have both said in interviews that filming their on-screen kiss was an “absolutely horrible” experience. It took only six takes to complete; whereas the kiss between Harry & Ginny took around ten, Ron & Lavender around 15, and Harry & Cho over 30 takes.

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