Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
July 23, 2016 11:32 PM - Subscribe

Harry, Ron and Hermione search for Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord as the final battle rages on at Hogwarts. Book and series spoilers

You don't want to know what happens to Hogwarts here. Many of its shining spires and noble gothic arches are reduced to ruin and ashes, providing an apocalyptic battleground. The school also seems to have mysteriously relocated adjacent to towering heights that permit vertiginous falls to the earth far below. There is no place in Britain that fits this geography, but then is Hogwarts quite in the real Britain?
What is does occupy is a Britain of the imagination. The series has remained faithful to J. K. Rowling's original conception, and resisted temptations to cheapen its action or simplify its complexity. She created a fictional world with its own logic and consistency, and here at the finale, there is some satisfaction in seeing loose ends tied up, lingering mysteries explained and suspicions confirmed.
-Roger Ebert

Here is where the Harry Potter series gets its groove back, with a final confrontation between Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and our young hero, and with the sensational revelation of Harry's destiny, which Dumbledore had been keeping secret from him. When stout-hearted young Neville Longbottom (a scene-stealer from Matthew Lewis) steps forward to denounce the dark lord in the final courtyard scene, I was on the edge of my seat. And when, in that final "coda", the middle-age Harry Potter gently hugs his little boy before sending him off for his first term at Hogwarts – well, what can I say? I think I must have had something in my eye.

The colossal achievement of this series really is something to wonder at. The Harry Potter movies showed us their characters growing older in real time: unlike Just William or Bart Simpson, Daniel Radcliffe's Harry was going to grow up like a normal person and never before has any film – or any book – brought home to me how terribly brief childhood is. The Potter movies weren't just an adaptation of a series of books, but a living, evolving collaborative phenomenon between page and screen. The first movie, Philosopher's Stone, came out in 2001, when JK Rowling was working on the fifth book, Order of the Phoenix, and when no one – perhaps not even the author herself – knew precisely how it was going to end. The movies developed just behind the books, and it's surely impossible to read them without being influenced by the films. This is most true for Robbie Coltrane's endlessly lovable, definitive performance as Hagrid.
-The Guardian

NYT Review

A few thoughts

-Where I'm usually quite critical of the HP movies, this one added something that the books couldn't quite get: a broad POV on scenes I wanted to have in the book.
-The Gringotts break in was a very good way to start the action off. Their shaky alliance with Griphook was something I'm glad they kept. Hermione saves them at least 2 times in the sequence. It's a bit surreal to think that this scene starts a continuous time period until the end of the battle of hogwarts. Just so much happens.
-Their arrival in Hogsmeade and Aberforth's reveal as their savior at a few key instances (escaping Malfoy Manor for instance). Aberforth might be one of the most interesting characters shoved into the series this late. I love the way he challenges Harry and points out all the shitty things Albus did by thrusting this task on Harry.
-While I get a slight "that's not how it was supposed to go" reaction with their reception in the Room of Requirement... it hits the right emotional notes. There are a few things that don't make sense though -- like Neville hiding in the Room of Requirement but still going to lessons? Neville also knowing about the Marauder's Map bothers me too. Also, why is Luna there right away (as an escapee of Malfoy Manor she should still be hiding).
-Love the confrontation between McGonagall and Snape. Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith going toe to toe gives me the chills. Really though, the whole "preparing to protect the castle" sequence makes me super emotional despite some odd choices (like Harry taking time out from his hunt for the horcrux to do her verbal smackdown of Snape).
-More about the protection of Hogwarts -- their collective spells adding to the magical dome thing is such a powerful idea that I can't articulate. It's incredible how much power each of the professors has and that it seems the very skilled go to Hogwarts to teach (except for most of the DADA staff) rather than pursue careers in the magical private sector.
-Harry finding the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw and their discussion is brilliant. It's a scene I enjoyed more in the movie than the book. Her reaction to hearing about the diadem and how it was defiled by dark magic is such a good moment. I also love that she compares Harry to Voldemort (not the first time it happens in the series but it's the most resounding comparison to me). There's also a seductive quality to their conversation which I enjoy.
-The threeway reaction shots to the cup being destroyed did a good job showing that Voldemort is starting to feel his grip on life slip and perhaps Harry is beginning to really notice his connection with the horcruxes. That against the backdrop of Ron and Hermione kissing = awesome.
-Harry finding the diadem via his connection to Voldemort's soul is a bit meh (but so was the part in the book where he found it based on a hurried trip to stash his book in the Room of Requirement in HBP). It's great that at this point they're almost foiled by Malfoy et al. Also, Ron running after them in a rage is comedic gold. The fiend fire is so scary and I love that they go back for Malfoy et al despite all the animosity
-Snape's death is one of my favorite sequences. Snape is clever and figures out perhaps a second too late that he's about to be killed. Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman deliver an amazing scene together. This is another scene where Harry's heart really comes through. Despite the years of torment, him believing Snape was to cause for Sirius' death, and knowing Snape killed Dumbledore he tries to comfort him.
-The halftime break in the battle has so much emotion in it for me with the castle in ruins, so many fallen students, Order members, and characters I loved. I can't blame Harry for needing to nope out of that.
-Snape's history is a part of the movie I highly anticipated. Though, was he just waiting in that tree? Anyway, I would have killed for this to be a longer sequence but it would push the run time without adding anything more than fan-fodder. Dumbledore is so callous when he asks Snape to do something in return for keeping people who are fighting for him safe. I've never been okay with the idea that Snape was at Godric's Hollow after James and Lily were murdered, held Lily's dead body, and just left Harry there. I just can't make myself give any fucks about always when he was a shit to Harry for 6 years.
-Harry's walk to his death was a scene that I didn't expect to be done well at all. That's until he says goodbye to Hermione and Ron and she knows what he has to do and offers to go with him. I like that she worked it out (or seems to have).
-The Kings Cross/Dumbledore and Harry have a chat sequence is one that I wonder what movie-only fans would think. Between the fetus-y Voldemort and sudden Dumbledore reappearance, it has to be quite confusing. I missed additional bits about Dumbledore's mistakes as a youth and through the horcrux/hallows storyline.
-Voldemort's victory march into Hogwarts and attempt to be the affable overlord to the remaining witches and wizards is one of the few awkward moments from the movie. I love gifs of Voldemort hugging Draco but don't think Voldemort would really try hard to appear friendly to the people he'd just defeated. Neville's defiance is amazing and I'm glad they skipped the part where Voldemort burns him with the sorting hat but the speech he gives about their effort not dying with Harry is so spot on.
-Harry and Voldemort dueling/hugging it out was not how I pictured it but it was still a good scene. At this point the wand/light saber battle effect was just a little overdone. Voldemort's death being without fanfare or spectacle worked really well for me.
-Bellatrix's death happening with a crowd there to witness Molly Weasley being a badass was just superb.
-The epilogue in the movie wasn't as grating as it was in the books. Maybe because I had a few years to get used to the idea that it'd be there. It was also fun to see how they aged the actors. Everyone in Harry's year at Hogwarts seemed to wait the same amount of time to start their families.
posted by toomanycurls (9 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not enough attention is given to the Gringotts scene, and Helena Bonham Carter's acting in it. I have to remind myself that it's not Emma Watson in makeup but HBC performing those scenes; she embodies the Hermione-character-as-Bellatrix so well. I really felt like that was Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:53 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've never understood why so many people hate the epilogue. I thought the makeup was a little iffy and some of the kids were aged a bit much for their supposed thirties, but I found the scene rather moving.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:41 AM on July 25, 2016

I don't mind the epilogue, but good lord, it really drives home how awful Bonnie Wright was as Ginny Weasley. I don't know if it's her fault or how the part was written, but she is so blah throughout the entire series of movies - and then they inexplicably style her in the epilogue with the clothing and bearing of an elderly woman, as if to say "yeah, we don't know, either." It especially sucks because Ginny is such a dynamic character in the books, but she's a wet blanket through and through, to the very end of these movies.
posted by something something at 9:24 AM on July 25, 2016

My take is that Snape had been watching Lily for some time.

The biggest surprise was Malfoy's mother; despite her name she's devoted to her son.
posted by brujita at 3:30 PM on July 26, 2016

One change I liked in the movie is Harry fucking snapping the Elder Wand. In the book he's like "Whatever as long as I die a natural death the wand will die with me" and sticks it back in Dumbledore's tomb. To hell with that! I guess Harry forgot that attracting unwanted violent attention is kind of the Elder Wand's thing, and a huge crowd of people including every death eater witnessed him claim it from Voldemort. I sure as hell wouldn't want to carry that target on my back as I get married and start a family.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:10 PM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ursula Hitler - I can't speak for others but I dislike the epilogue not for what's in it but for what isn't. Having everyone marry off neatly with the people they've known since 11 is kinda eh but hey every story has to have the happy ending, etc. (And, underwhelming movie Ginny aside, I think Harry/Ginny was a great pairing and would work out well.)
Much more problematic to me is that the epilogue seems to suggest nothing has been done to address the structural problems and inequalities in the wizarding world. All was well? All is clearly NOT well. As I mentioned in the book thread the residual anti-Slytherin prejudice suggests that a repeat of the civil strife over blood purity or whatever looms, and the cavalier attitude of Ron towards muggle stuff suggests the wizarding world is woefully unprepared for the advent of ubiquitous surveillance technology. Am I reading too much into it? Sure maybe, but Rowling doesn't add anything to show me that improvements have happened either.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:12 PM on August 10, 2016

Could you specify what sort of changes you'd like to see? In the other thread you didn't elaborate much. I think "all was well" in the sense that Voldemort was gone and his followers were scattered, and those sort of conflicts seemed far in the past now. Harry has settled down to a rather ordinary life by wizard standards, and his kids would probably grow up in a much less dangerous world. (I say that having not read the new play yet. Maybe it begins with the revelation that some new wizard or witch tyrant has risen and everything is falling apart again. But I think that when Rowling wrote THIS book, her intention was that things were going to be fine enough from now on.) As for the surveillance technology, I'm not sure why that's a big concern. If you mean that muggles could be spying on the wizards, I'd assume the wizards could just do some magic to make themselves invisible to cameras, etc. I get the feeling they generally have little to worry about from muggles. I mean, they have magic!

I've read all the books and seen all the movies, but I can't say I know the wizarding world as well as some fans... has Rowling ever explained what the Slytherins are actually supposed to be good for? I know, "greatness", but they're a generally smug and sinister group. Snape was about as admirable as they seem to get, and even he was a conflicted, complicated mess. (By the end of the books Draco Malfoy shows signs of going the same way. He may grow up to be not-evil, but he'll ALWAYS be kind of a jerk.) Does the whole house exist because the wizards know there will always be sneaky creeps, and they want to keep them all in one place to watch them? (Downside: Keeping all of the sneaky creeps in one place.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:52 PM on August 10, 2016

Well I'll answer two ways. (I don't think this is hijacking the thread but if we end up going on we could always jump to memail.) On one level I don't want Rowling to change anything; the series is great and I enjoy it. This is more in the nature of nerdy nitpicking about the worldbuilding (see: nearly all my mefi comments about Potter).

JKR didn't concern herself with building a huge consistent secondary world (a la Tolkien or GRRM) but rather just set her magical world as being hidden inside "our" world. Lots of people have done this (I happen to love Diane Duane's take) but some of the things Rowling inserted just scream out for better explanations/explorations than she bothered with in the series. (Also I haven't read the Cursed Child yet either, so no idea if if would affect my opinions on all this.)

So, my second answer. If we are to believe HP is set in our world we then also start wondering about the intertwining of our history and the wizards'. Heck, Rowling points us in that direction with all the WWII/Grindlewald stuff. Sure we can joke about Slytherin being the creep house but the idea that Britain's entire magical social order is predicated on telling 1/4 of the population starting at age 11 that they are supposed to be ambitious but hey, you're also the house for evil bigots is a recipe for disaster and civil instability. Voldemort (in this reading) isn't simply an evil dark lord; he's the logical outcome of a horrible social system. Likewise, even if a reformed Ministry led by Shacklebolt, Potter, Granger, et al. is able to keep the lid on pureblood bigotry the epilogue seems to imply that little has changed about wizard-muggle relations. That's simply unsustainable.

I could go on: How is it ok that House Elves are slaves, however magically willing, or that the wizard economy makes zero sense, or that nothing in canon suggests any way for wizard institutions to even understand much less deal with 21st century muggle technological advancement. Yes, sure, "magic" but you can't obliviate a security camera, or a viral instagram. I don't think the canon epilogue would be better if Rowling had shoved in 20 pages of social commentary, but without it I'm left wondering what's going to happen to the wizards. I'm sure they would come up with something but canon doesn't tell us what. Which is fine; it'd be irrelevant to the story, but it leaves room for me to nitpick and have fun imagining!
posted by Wretch729 at 5:42 PM on August 10, 2016

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