Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Directed by: David Yates

Produced by: David Heyman
David Barron
J.K. Rowling

Screenplay by: Steve Kloves

Based on: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe
Rupert Grint
Emma Watson
Helena Bonham Carter
Jim Broadbent
Robbie Coltrane
Warwick Davis
Ralph Fiennes
John Hurt
Jason Isaacs
Alan Rickman
Maggie Smith
David Thewlis
Emma Thompson
Julie Walters

Music by: Alexandre Desplat
John Williams (Themes)
Nicholas Hooper (Themes)

Cinematography by: Eduardo Serra

Editing by: Mark Day

Studio: Heyday Films

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release dates(s): July 13, 2011 (International)
July 15, 2011 (United Kingdom and United States)
August 4, 2011 (Mainland China)

Running time: 130 minutes

Country: United Kingdom
United States

Language: English

Budget: $250 million (Shared with Part 1)

Box office revenue (as of publication): $1, 148, 401, 620

Me again, back and making the usual excuses about being away for a week and not being able to type up my review, long overdue at that, for HP7.2. In my own defence I will say that I have been away in Newcastle for a week fulfilling my duties as a Scout Leader (I do other things believe it or not than spend my free time in dark rooms). As I am not a Scanner and can't tap into computers via a payphone, this denied me the opportunity to review anything. Since coming back, I have seen Captain America: The First Avenger, and am planning to see Cars 2, Zookeeper, Super 8, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Smurfs and Cowboys And Aliens in the coming fortnight, so keep your eyes on this page.

So, without further adieu, here comes the review for the milestone Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2. It all ends 7.15 (or rather has ended, given my delayed response) reads the poster, and so with it, ends one of the most beloved of all cinematic franchises. A lot of people are getting very emotional about the end of Potter, as like me, they grew up with the books, and have also grown watching filmmakers bring pure imagination into the realm of collective reality. Furthermore, unlike some other franchises, the Potter series is universally revered and loved, by audiences and critics alike, old and young, and so we have come to expect from the series a high quality of film, so by the time HP7.2 was released in the wake of Part 1, which I feel to be the best of the whole lot, the hype could not be any larger. I went to see the film in a packed press screening which also, much to my displeasure had a Cool FM sponsorship with ticket winners to the premiere taking family and co together. Despite my grumbles, including children making noise and the 3D glasses, it had a real big event feel to it, the likes of which I haven't felt since Avatar, and I feel gave me good enough food for thought to review.

To start with the good, I can't praise the producers enough for their casting of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry, Ron and Hermione. Despite the tremendous spectacle of the film's, ultimately it is their story, and the three actors tell the story of their characters with strength and conviction. As the years have went on, Radcliffe has established himself as a thoroughly legitimate screen presence who carries the weight of this behemoth of his shoulders. Like Harry, he himself is challenged as an actor in this film, and succeeds with grace. At this key stage of the series, we believe in Radcliffe as Harry, and he delivers a powerful performance, perhaps the best he has done in the series, in this film. Harry's situation pushes Radcliffe to the extremes of his abilities and he handles it with power. Although the focus here is clearly Harry, Grint and Watson are strong as ever playing Ron and Hermione. On the acting spectrum, I would also like to point out Ralph Fiennes. His villainous role as Voldemort is also given the spotlight in this film, and he run's with suitable menace in the part. Finally on the acting, I would like to point out the work of Alan Rickman. It could be a case of favourtism as I like Rickman very much and he is my number one impersonation, but his key part to the story in this film is important. As such, Rickman shows us all of his acting tools, and really gets down to the crux of the Severus Snape. One of the best written characters of the series, Rickman shows us the various layers of complexity in Snape, and delivers a great performance. Another of the great things about the Harry Potter series was the overall mise-en-scene. Say what you will about Warner Bros., as they have made some real clusterfucks with regard to where they put their, they put it to good use in the Harry Potter franchise and created a magical world that one previously could not believe existed outside the imagination. In HP7.2, the setting of Hogwarts is an extraordinary achievement in production design. I always address the main trio's return to Hogwarts, followed by Voldemort's arrival as the 'Battle Of Hogwarts,' and the mise-en-scene certainly lives up to that label. Hogwarts becomes a battlefield that looks like something lifted from Band Of Brothers as opposed to the glossy sheen we were introduced to so long ago. Also, thumbs up to the stunt/choreography teams for managing to inject this controlled madness into the film. It really benefits the battlefield atmosphere of the film. Eduardo Serra's terrific cinematography is once again in full force. His dark hues and shades gives the film a distinctive colour and signature look. Furthermore, as HP7.2 is in many ways an action film, he gives some so-called 'action cinematographers' a run for their money, proving you can create a frantic atmosphere while still being able to see what is going on. This time around, editor Mark Day is also like some of the actor's pushed to extremes, as his job here was unquestionably that of long, hard work. Like the other members, he takes the ball and run's with it. We know from State Of Play (TV series, also directed by Yates) that he can make a conversation look a whole hell lot more entertaining than it might be in reality, but the action is a big challenge. Admirably, he shows a lot of restraint in this regard, whilst also being able to keep the intensity levels on high. The best work is that of the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. The whole series has been leading up to this, and Day's editing (with help from fine sound editing and visual effects) is befitting of this monumental clash. It is rare to see such freneticism and intensely brilliant editing outside of the work of Sergei Eisenstein, and this is terrific work. Finally, a big pat on the back must be given to director David Yates. Burdens seem to be the recurring theme of this review, but as the director of this project, ultimately, it was up to Yates to deliver a satisfying end to a stellar franchise. He delivers the final product very well and should be thoroughly proud of his fine contributions to this film and the entire series.

Geez, I didn't realise I had that much to say, and there is still more to come, now that we are entering the bad about the film. I really gushed over Part 1, and I suppose I did in many ways about this film, and while unquestionably a thoroughly satisfying film, it is fundamentally flawed in it's screenplay. This is such a shame, as Steve Kloves delivered such a well-balance and well-structured screenplay in last year's film. In the fact that we spend less than an hour before we get to what I call the 'Battle Of Hogwarts', which occupies most the film's screen-time, HP7.2 ends up feeling like the third act to a movie. I know there has been a Part 1 to all this, but Part 1 can clearly be separated from the context of this follow-up and viewed in it's own self-contained universe. This unfortunately must be viewed completely in context of the series and taken apart from this, viewed organically it is like the film has had it's foot lopped off with a machete. Furthermore, the film digresses into needless sections of exposition that take up large chunks of the movie and destroy the momentum of the 'Battle Of Hogwarts.' Also, despite being the shortest of the Potter film's at 130 minutes, it feels like a three-hour film. My recommendation: add more minutes. I know that sounds crazy to a film I already feel is overlong, but trust me, if a movie is well-structured and balanced, a longer film will feel far shorter then it is, and therein lies my logic. Finally, there is a certain set of makeup and visual effects, which I am being careful of because of spoilers, that simply does not convince me. Those of you who have seen it may well know what I am talking about. And no, I'm not going to shit on Alexandre Desplat. His score for this film worked, and his work on The Tree Of Life means I can forgive him for some of his other work.

So, it has ended. Harry Potter as a film franchise is done. That said, J.K. Rowling has in the wake of both the books and the films being over has been talking of late of the possibilities of an eighth Harry Potter book. I would welcome it with an open mind, but I feel that the franchise has come to a solid conclusion and personally three words ring in my head: 'let it be.' This final film in a fine series is a very good, worthy conclusion to the franchise. It has some strong acting from the central trio, Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman, a magnificent mise-en-scene, technical proficiency and a strong level of control is exhibited by David Yates. However, ultimately it is a very flawed screenplay that is badly structured that let's it down from being the masterpiece that it really should be.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.6/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Tired (be glad to watch Videodrome again after I finish this)

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