Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
I enjoyed this a lot more than Part I which I found to be tedious and unengaging. This time the pace and excitement are unrelenting and occasionally spectacular.
The production values and special effects, at least when viewed in 2D on a decent flat screen via blu-ray, are superb. Surround sound effects are terrific.
Some imagery is arresting. I’m a sucker for dragons; Deathly Hallows II does not disappoint.
There’s an overall grittiness and darkness to the film that adds depth to the situation while avoiding the muddiness and flatness of so many other reduced-palette films. The climactic battle between Valdemort’s Army and Harry’s allies is extraordinarily well designed and produced and in some ways matches the grandeur of the battles in the Lord of the Rings battles.
One scene reminded me of the imagery I had imagined for the sci-fi novel The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. In that novel a group of future besieged soldiers create a force field dome around them and slide a nuclear bomb thru the field as a “gift” to the attacking aliens on the other side. The thermonuclear fury that erupts outside the dome looks a lot in my imagination like the orange plasma dome surrounding Hogwarts that holds back the dark magic forces.
Two factors reduced my enjoyment of this film. One was the constant pursuit of magical “MacGuffins” including swords, spheres, and items of jewelry. All have some sort of magical property that just seems to exist to get the main characters from Point A to Point B. As artificial plot points their pursuit contributes little to story or character development.
The other negative factor: the flat and undeveloped personalities of the three main characters. Harry in particular is acted with a modicum of emotion. He projects worry but never comes across as really having the weight of the Fate of Civilization on his shoulders.
What makes up for the story’s artificiality and lack of human interest in the main characters is the acting of everyone else, especially the bad guys. The movie crackles whenever Valdemort or Snape appear. They take this stuff very seriously and it shows. You wouldn’t want to meet Valdemort or Snape in a dark alley.
Harry and his friends, on the other hand, would be so nondescript they wouldn’t be noticed. Fortunately there’s so much other stuff going on in this film that it’s very entertaining.
Review copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald