Harry Potter and the Rybo Review

If you know me personally, there are a few things you have probably realized about me. There are certain things that I love very much, and I tend to be somewhat obsessive about them. In addition to graffiti, Lord of the Rings, Smurfs, and old-school hip hop, one of these things is Harry Potter. I consider myself well-steeped in the books. I picked up the first book when I was in 3rd grade, and the obsession has not stopped since. I have read through each book numerous times, and I regularly listen to the Jim Dale readings. I would estimate that, during the average year, I listen to or read every book around three times. Long story short, I love the Harry Potter lore.

As a book snob, I have, over the years, been apathetic about the movies.  They aren’t the books, they aren’t supposed to be, and I can’t fully enjoy them knowing that.  Since the first movie, I have had issues with the acting, the lack of depth, etc.  However, I realize that they are to be viewed as separate entities from the book, and I have tried to appreciate them as such.  The following review, including spoilers, is my attempt to fairly judge the cinematic representation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

At the time I write this, I have seen the movie twice.  First in IMAX 3D, second in a traditional theater.  While the IMAX was incredible, due mostly to sheer size (I had to turn my head to see both sides of the screen), the 3D was nothing spectacular.  Yes, it added depth to the characters, and yes, it was pretty cool to see a 3D dragon flying around.  However, besides the Gringotts cable car scene, the dragon and the Nagini/Snape scene, I thought the best part about the 3D was the Happy Feet 2 trailer before the movie started.  Seriously, do you want to see pieces of Voldemorts dead flesh waft towards you?  I thought not, and that was one of the only seriously 3D scenes in the movie.

All that said, here are my thoughts about the movie – things well done and things lacking.  Enjoy.

The Good

Acting

While still not incredible, the acting was noticeably better than previous HP movies.  The trio meshes well, though I still think some of their lines come across as very forced.  Daniel Radcliffe, however, did a great job, and really sold me on the Resurrection Stone scene, solemnly asking his parents and departed friends to stay close to him through his certain death.  We also saw much more of Alan Rickman, who has portrayed Severus Snape for the last decade, and it was good to see emotional acting (during the memory scene towards the end) from a generally solemn character.  Pay close attention to Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Bill Weasley in the first scene, for some of the most awkward acting I’ve ever seen.

Harry Death Scene

For the most part, I thought this scene was well done.  I know this is a review that is mostly separated from the book, but I will say I was very happy that the movie stayed very close in this scene.  As it is the post-climax of the entire series, this scene needed to deliver.  The Forbidden Forest bit was well done, sufficiently somber and climactic.  I was, however, most pleased with the post-death, King’s Cross scene.  It was unexpected for viewers unfamiliar with the books, it included somewhat sufficient explanation, the wretched baby, and Dumbledore.  In fact, I think the the only thing that could have been better with this scene is a bit more explanation and a different Dumbledore.  Michael Gambon, for me, has always been sub-par, and one of my greatest disappointments with the series.  In addition to other shortcomings, he doesn’t deliver any sense of wisdom or reason to be respected.  Richard Harris, I thought, did a much better job, but that’s another discussion for another day.  Either way, it was a good scene.

Action

The fighting, save for the climactic duels which I’ll discuss in a few paragraphs, was also excellent.  The attack on Hogwarts was very reminiscent of the attack on Minas Tirith in Return of the King.  The unity of the school and outside aide was great, and the end result was a real sympathy and sadness for the characters who die in battle.

The Bad

Flow of Story

I thought there were several flaws with the story itself.  As this is the 8th movie, I feel like it should sufficiently answer the obvious questions that the casual, non-book viewer would raise.  Not only did it fail with this, it raised unexpected questions for even die-hard fans.  For starters, I thought that there was a serious lack of explanation when it came to the Hallows, and why it was that Harry could come back from the dead.  While this was somewhat left up to the reader to figure out in the book, I thought it should have been a bit more obvious in the movie.  The cloak, for example, is only used in the Gringotts scene, and its importance seems muted by the other Hallows, to the point one forgets it is even a Hallow.

The biggest issue, however, is one I did not realize until a few other people brought it to my attention.  Snape, it seems to the non-book reader, is portrayed as either Lily Potter’s husband or secret lover.  I know this sounds crazy, but think about it.  James Potter is pictured several times in the memory, but the only evidence we have that he is married to Lily is that he was in the house the night Voldemort murdered them both.  Thinking back on it, Harry also has pitch black hair – like Snape, not James, and not Lily.  Snape also is on the verge of tears, pleading with Dumbledore, and later is shown holding Lily in a tight embrace, crying about her death.  To one not familiar with Rowling’s books, this could be very confusing.

Wizard Duels

As stated above, I thought the action scenes were pretty good.  However, there were a few wizard duels that I thought were less than admirable.  The much anticipated duel between Bellatrix and Mrs. Weasley, for example, was a bit of a letdown.  While the “Not my daughter, you bitch!” drew an applause from the theater, the actual fighting was nothing special.  To Molly Weasley, this is a Death Eater who has tortured and killed close friends, now attempting to kill family.  The anger and hatred should be clearly visible and the dueling extravagant.  Likewise, many of the teachers battled Death Eaters, though the actual duels were never seen.  I think David Yates would have benefited from expanding some of these duels and giving the viewers the satisfaction the just anger the viewer has held for 7 movies.

The Ugly

The Final Duel

I cannot sufficiently express my disgust with the final duel between Harry and Voldemort.  It was horrible.  In all honesty, it made the scene where Harry confronts Snape the most triumphant moment in the movie.  You would think that a multi-million dollar, eight-series finale would spend time crafting the climax to the entire series.  But no, fans must settle for a secluded duel, ending with pieces of Voldemort floating away through the air.  To make matters worse, there is practically no Hogwarts celebration about the fact that the mortal enemy of all that is good in the world – the enemy that has tortured and killed innocent people for the last few decades – is finally dead.  Yay.


All in all, I thought it was a good movie.  One of the best Potter films, a good film by itself, but by no means an incredible film – definitely not worth the 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.