My only friend, the end

Posted by · 10:41 am · July 12th, 2011

I’ll make this brief.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” hits this weekend. It will be massive. The devoted will turn out and love it. The sense of grand closure will settle for many. But I’ll just have to cop here at the beginning to the fact that I cannot connect the dots on this series and likely never will.

I suppose I’ll just focus on what I did enjoy about the latest film, which I saw last night, rather than wallow in the overall displeasure. Who wants to be a spoilsport? A party-pooper? A wet blanket? A kill-joy? A fuddy-duddy?

Mercifully, the film clocks in at just over two hours, rather than blowing right on past the two-and-a-half-hour mark like most of the other films in the franchise. And since it’s largely built around action sequences and an overall vibe of suspense, it moved along nicely. I liked that.

Ralph Fiennes gives the performance that should be talked about in this film (not Alan Rickman, who is fine as always, but is getting a bit of an exaggerated wind in his sails based on his character’s arc). Ever since his first appearance in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Fiennes seems to be the actor who both relishes the part and gets the delirious absurdity of it all. And he’s fantastic. I liked that.

David Yates finds a few interesting directorial strokes that I think have been absent from his work on the series since “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” whether it’s the first ominous image of Hogwarts flanked by Death Eaters or the careful use of sound (or lack thereof) amid the chaos of battle. I liked that.

Maggie Smith gets to be a badass. I liked that.

The production value is once again top-notch, specifically Alexander Desplat’s delicate score and Stuart Craig’s detailed production design, as well as some of the best effects used in the series to date. I liked that.

So that’s one, two, three, four, five things I liked. Hey, that’s pretty good, right? Wait. Just allow me to put forth at least one quibble.

SPOILERS

With something like $7 billion and counting, would it have killed them to invest in a little performance-capture for the 19-years-later coda, which as it is asks the audience to buy these characters as significantly older with little more than a belly for Rupert Grint, some sideburns for Daniel Radcliffe, some dodgy makeup for Tom Felton and, well, nothing at all for Emma Watson?

END SPOILERS

And so it all ends. Finally. What will the legacy of these films be beyond box office? It’s left to be seen. But they are not for me. I don’t know that I’ll ever re-visit them, unless I happen to have a child who latches on.

Congratulations to everyone who made a boatload of money on the series. It makes the world go ’round.

[Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures]




→ 84 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily · Reviews

84 responses so far

  • 1 7-12-2011 at 8:14 pm

    seasondays said...

    I’m with you on the comments about RALPH FIENNES, he delivers every line selling what the plot requires and at the same time kind of mocking the absurdity of what he is saying.

    Specially because the writing uses VOLDEMORT’s dialogues to explain a lot of what’s happening.

    In “real” life we would all be wondering why is VOLDEMORT explaining us all that stuff, specially since nobody asks him to do so, and that’s exactly what FIENNES does and makes it work.

  • 2 7-12-2011 at 9:56 pm

    Hank said...

    Kris, have you read any of the other books besides the first one?

    Also, was the teaser for The Dark Knight Rises attached as rumor has it?

    Apologies if these questions have already been answered, I didn’t read through all the comments.

  • 3 7-12-2011 at 9:58 pm

    Hank said...

    Off topic, but I got a strange Umbridge vibe from watching The Iron Lady trailer.

  • 4 7-12-2011 at 10:39 pm

    tintin said...

    I feel nominations for Picture, Cinematography, Makeup, Art direction, Visual Effects, Original Score(Desplat), Sound Editing.
    Maybe…Sound mixing, Costume design…Editing? Supporting Actor(Ralph Fiennes)?? jajaja
    And the Oscar goes to…(x11)
    And it’s a Clean sweep for Harry Potter…
    I’m dreaming, yes…a nice one…

  • 5 7-12-2011 at 10:52 pm

    Paul said...

    Interesting review. I’m still very much looking forward to the film, though. And since I’ve read the book, the story will be easier for me to follow.

    Also, I’m quite amazed at the critical response this finale is getting. I mean all of the previous films have gotten generally positive reviews, but this one is on a league of its own. The RT score is impressive. I think It will drop by a few percentages in the next few days as more reviews are added but it will probably stay in the nineties. I checked the BFCA score and it was 95. That is quite good.

    I’ll have to see the film for myself to know if it’s as good as the majority of critics say. I hope I won’t feel underwhelmed like you were, Kris.

    Still, I’m glad to see the film doing well critically because the praise elevates the series as a whole and might help increase the chances of Harry Potter veterans like Stuart Craig of getting recognized for their work.

  • 6 7-13-2011 at 4:43 am

    Glenn said...

    In regards to the best picture thing… one big issue: It’s not a full movie. This movie does not stand alone in any way shape for form like the LOTR films did. This one is literally half a movie. Can’t see them going for a film that doesn’t even feel complete.

    I’ve been consistently surprised that the Voldemort makeup hasn’t landed it a nomination in the tiny makeup category, but I figure it’s CGI enhanced and that this year won’t be any different. Art direction…? If they’re feeling plucky. Cinematography seems less flashy than usual. Costumes too “modern”. If it deserves anything it’s in the sound categories and visual effects.

    Maggie Smith was the best part and it’s about time she got to do something after being shunted for the last few films. Shame they couldn’t incorporate all the other characters (Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Jim Broadbent, David Thewlis) in a more memorable way, even if it meant erring away from the book. I just wish they’d culled a lot of part 1 and merged them together to make a much more epic 3hr (i’d even give them leway to go 3hr and 15/20mins) finale rather than the ridiculous slice they made. I liked Part 2 a lot, but it just doesn’t feel like a movie. If that makes sense. Which it probably doesn’t.

  • 7 7-13-2011 at 4:45 am

    Glenn said...

    Oh.

    1. Prisoner of Azkaban
    2. Order of the Phoenix
    3. Goblet of Fire
    4. Deathly Hallows Pt 2
    5. Half-Blood Prince
    6. Deathly Hallows Pt 1
    7/8 The other two that were so very very bad I don’t even wanna name them.

  • 8 7-13-2011 at 5:46 am

    JJ1 said...

    I agree with Glenn. I think that in a year of 10 (the last 2 years), this would ‘probably’ be in.

    But with the new 5-10 rule, and the fact that this movie is half of a whole, the effect seems a tad lessened; no matter how good the film apparently is.

    It would be nice to see noms for cin, art d, make-up, sound, score, an acting somewhere. I don’t see a writing nom as this particular film is mostly an actioner. But it’s too far out to tell (July).

    And what people said above, since WB has a few other big guns this Fall/Winter, I don’t know that I see HP7:2 quite making it for BP.

    We’ll see. I DO hope the franchise wins an Oscar(s) somewhere.

  • 9 7-13-2011 at 6:31 am

    Chris said...

    1: Goblet of Fire
    2: Prisoner of Azkaban
    3: Champer of Secrets
    4: Half Blood Prince
    5: Sorcerer’s Stone
    6:Deathly Hallows Part 1
    7: Order of the Phoenix

    I’m like Kris in the fact that I have never gotten into these movies nearly as much as everyone else. I thought Goblet and Prisoner were great but I have always felt David Yates was in way over his head from the start.

    I don’t see DHp2 getting any major Oscar noms apart from MAYBE Supporting Actor for either Fiennes or Rickman. A big difference between this film and Return of the King at the Oscars is that The Lord of the Rings franchise was a major Oscar contender out of the gate while I don’t think the entore Potter franchise has gotten as many noms as Fellowship dd by itself. I could be wrong though. The simple truth is these films were not made to win Oscars. They were made to entertain people. And while they mostly haven’t entertained me personally I am in the vast minority on that one.

  • 10 7-13-2011 at 7:05 am

    JJ1 said...

    ^ “The simple truth is these films were not made to win Oscars. They were made to entertain people”.

    I would agree. But I think there was a definite effort since Yates took over to make the film’s look as best as they possibly could.

    And the team assembled (cin, art d, costumes, make-up, sound, fx, score) had to have thought that Oscar noms were a at least a possibility, if not somewhat of a goal.

    I did not get ANY vibe from the first few that ‘Oscar’ was on their radar anywhere.

  • 11 7-13-2011 at 7:52 am

    denny said...

    I have to say, even as a huge fan of the books, I never got the love for all the movies. Every single one of them (save Alfonso Cuaron’s Prisoner of Azkaban) has been compeltely workmanlike. I always wonder what they would have been like if someone like Guillermo del Toro or Tim Burton had directed them. Or even if Cuaron had gotten the chance to direct more than just one picture. Try as I might, I cannot understand the emotional attachment people have to these movies, and I definitely had an attachment to the books. It seems to me they never quite got the pacing of the films right. And while the filmmaking has gotten more “elegant” as the films have gone on, it hasn’t gotten any clearer. I’ll certainly go see this one, but I don’t have high hopes, even with all the glowing reviews.

    Kris – did you see it in 3-D? Was it worth it? I’m tempted not to bother, but this one was actually shot in 3-D, right?

  • 12 7-13-2011 at 8:38 am

    Movieguy1 said...

    While I was an avid reader of the books for pure light-reading enjoyment, I’m no vocal defender of the merits of the films (nor a proponent of the idea that the books are some sort of sacrosanct masterwork).

    However, while qualified as such, I do think this review comes off a bit churlish from someone who had a blast wallowing in the nonsense of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and raved about the latest “Who cares?” iteration of “The Incredible Hulk”. So the series was tiresome and not up your alley, fine. But I think Jeff Wells (a hater of this franchise second to none) did a better job of assessing this final installment on its purely cinematic merits.

    If this film had been served to you cold, would a 2-hour fantasy epic clocking in at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes have proved such an unbearable endurance?

  • 13 7-13-2011 at 10:02 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Hank: Never read any of the books. And they don’t attach trailers to press screenings (unfortunately, in this case).

  • 14 7-13-2011 at 1:42 pm

    Matt said...

    1. Prisoner of Azkaban
    2. Half Blood Prince
    3. Deathly Hallows Pt. 1
    4. Goblet of Fire
    5. Philosopher’s Stone
    6. Order of the Phoenix

    7. Chamber of Secrets – Columbus schmultz overload

  • 15 7-13-2011 at 2:13 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    Interesting that Order of the Phoenix seems to, in most cases, be the favorite or least favorite Potter film.

    It’s the film with least story in it. It starts with Potter saying “Voldemort is back” and no one believes him. 150 minutes later, they see Voldemort and agree that Harry was right. That’s it. It’s a transition-film building up to the war that starts in HP6. All build-up, no real story.

  • 16 7-13-2011 at 2:28 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Berardinelli – 88/100
    Ebert – 88/100
    Michael Phillips – 88/100

    The great reviews continue to roll in. My anticipation is pretty high now. But I’ll be sure to lower expectations come Sunday.

    And I also find it interesting that Order of the Phoenix appears to be either a fave or one of the least faves for the public.

  • 17 7-13-2011 at 3:28 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Dane: Most enjoyable for me. I like the directorial ideas used therein.

  • 18 7-13-2011 at 6:44 pm

    j said...

    I pay attention to about 8 critics/pubs. So far, Variety 80, Travers 88, Ebert 88, Time 90, EW 91, THR 100. Just the LA/NY Times to go.

    So far, 6 perfects + 8 half-steps down on MC, of 21. Azkaban 5 & 13/40 (THR, Travers, Ebert) vs. EW B+, LA/NY/Time B, Variety B-. Goblet 3 (THR) & 12 (LA, Variety, Ebert) vs. NY/Travers B, EW B-.

  • 19 7-13-2011 at 7:00 pm

    j said...

    Okay, now 29 reviews, 7 perfects + 12 half-steps down. LA gives it a 90.

    NY Times is quite good too, though not on MC yet. It’s also a very good read (much better than LA’s): “Grave, deeply satisfying…may fill you with feeling and also make you cry. I did, partly because it’s been unexpectedly moving…Here it’s Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman who give the master class in acting…the scripts have been largely models of adaptation…tightly focused and as somber and unsettling as it should be…often beautiful, washed in gray and so drained of other color that at first it looks as if it’s in black and white…awfully good…intense pleasure of a certain kind of old-fashioned cinema experience, the sort that sweeps you up in sheer spectacle with bigger-than-life images and yet holds you close with intimately observed characters and the details that keep your eyes and mind busy. Too often it can be hard to see the human touch amid the industrial machinery, which hasn’t been true here. One reason the movies work is that their scale never overwhelmed the extraordinary characters…[Rickman] lifts the movie to its expressive high point…he has always suggested Laurence Olivier’s Richard III…that [Snape] has become such a brilliant screen character is due to Mr. Rickman.”

  • 20 7-14-2011 at 5:12 am

    daveylow said...

    Bah, humbug!

  • 21 7-14-2011 at 10:06 am

    matsunaga said...

    I just saw it here in the Philippines…

    Well as a fan, I must say it was everything I hoped for, I think Yates was able to capitalize on the over all tone of the film… Something that the previous films lack in one way or another…

    As far as the performances were concerned, the stand outs were Rickman and Fiennes IMO…

    I agree with Kris, for me Fiennes is a revelation here!!! I didn’t care much of him as Voldemort since Goblet of Fire but this time, he just embodied the character, like he did to Amon Goeth in Schindelr’s List…

    But, I would still give it to Alan Rickman as the best performer in this last chapter…

    I think, I’ll still have to see it for the second time to be more objective…

  • 22 7-14-2011 at 5:36 pm

    blowithand said...

    Just saw the film too in Thailand, so my ranking…

    1; Deathly Hallows Part 2
    2; Prisoner of Azkaban
    3; Goblet of Fire
    4; Deathly Hallows Part 1
    5; Half Blood Prince
    6; Order of the Phoenix
    7; Sorcerer’s Stone
    8; Champer of Secrets

  • 23 7-15-2011 at 12:12 am

    Douglas said...

    I should probably just say first that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan

    1. Order of the Phoenix
    2. Deathly Hallows Part 2
    3. Goblet of Fire
    4. Prisoner of Azkaban
    5. Deathly Hallows Part 1
    6. Half Blood Prince
    7. Philosopher’s Stone
    8. Chamber of Secrets

  • 24 7-15-2011 at 7:04 am

    Jeff T. said...

    Seeing Part 2 later today. My ranking of the other films:

    1. Half-Blood Prince
    2. Prisoner of Azkaban
    3. Deathly Hallows, Part 1
    4. Order of the Phoenix
    5. Goblet of Fire
    6. Sorcerer’s Stone
    7. Chamber of Secrets

  • 25 7-16-2011 at 7:01 am

    Mao said...

    I want to push back against the view held by some that these films are only “supplements” to the books that do not stand well on their own two (or ten) feet cinematically. I have not read any of the books. They were after my time as I am of the Star Wars generation, and I was rather skeptical of the Potter phenomenon.

    The first film I saw was Azkaban on DVD. I enjoyed it so much I became hooked into the series and have since seen each of the films many times, even those that I find to be lesser movies. I deliberately chose to put off reading the books until the film franchise concluded because I wanted to judge the film series on its own merit. I think the series stacks up quite well with other fantasy or sci-fi series. To pick a commonly compared series, while I understand that LOTR might technically be the “artistically” superior, I actually enjoy the Potter movies quite a bit more.

    The two best films are pretty clear to me:
    Prisoner of Azkaban
    Goblet of Fire

    These are the two films that and have a strong artistic identity. Cuaron’s visual style and editorial choices in POA are wonderful and I wish he had been brought back to direct another.

    GOF did the best job capturing the boarding school culture with intimate detail. Not surprising given that Mike Newell attended the elite St. Albans School and Magdalene College, Cambridge.

    I enjoy all of the rest as well (haven’t seen DH II yet) but they tend to be more interchangeable. The two I find the least impressive are Order of the Phoenix and Chamber of Secrets.

  • 26 7-16-2011 at 11:22 pm

    cineJAB said...

    I saw this twice in it’s first 12 hours of release. Yup.
    I think this is an undeniable possibility for a Best Picture nomination.
    Oscar possibilities:
    Best Picture
    Best Supporting Actor – Ralph Fiennes
    Best Visual Effects
    Best Cinematography
    Best Art Direction
    Best Visual Effects
    Best Sound Editing
    Best Sound Mixing

    and if I had to rank the movies:
    1. Deathly Hallows Pt 2
    2. Deathly Hallows Pt 1
    3. Sorcerer’s Stone
    4. Order of the Phoenix
    5. Goblet of Fire
    6. Prisoner of Azkaban
    7. Half-Blood Prince
    8. Chamber of Secrets

  • 27 7-18-2011 at 7:08 pm

    Kyle T. said...

    In my experience, there are two camps. If you like Order of the Phoenix the book, you hate the movie. If you like Order of the Phoenix movie, you haven’t read the book. That movie is an abomination of adaptation, and really saps a lot of the emotional momentum provided in books 6 and 7 out of their movie counterparts. It serves as the bridge in the series, and they didn’t build a bridge, they built a rope ladder.

    The new movie was good, not great. I would be SHOCKED if it got a Best Picture nomination, as I can’t see 5% of the Academy putting it at the top of their ballots.

  • 28 7-19-2011 at 7:57 am

    JJ1 said...

    ^

    Every single person I know who read Order of the Phoenix (and LOVED it), thought that the film was completely mishandled.

    Then you got me, who has seen all the movies, never read any of the books, and didn’t like Order of the Phoenix movie (because it felt – more than the others – like things were left out).

    And when I say that to those who read the books, they say, “that’s because they completely fumbled the movie”.

  • 29 7-22-2011 at 9:39 am

    jason said...

    i am puzzled by the orders of favorites on this comments list. to me the first five are all basically the same quality. i missed half blood prince but i thought deathly hallows 1 was by far the worst! it was completely misguided in tone! it’s about a damn trio of teenage wizards! why is that supposed to be a super dark metaphor on the human condition, told via a minimalist journey?! given how bad part 1 was, i am also befuddled by the glowing critical reception this movie is getting.

  • 30 7-23-2011 at 7:19 pm

    Andy O said...

    Clear your befuddlement then Jason, and go watch the movie. I’m sure there are words to describe what this film made me feel, but right now I don’t really care to look for them. It was fkin amazing. I agree most with CineJAB as far as the Oscar possibilities:

    Best Picture
    Best Supporting Actor – Ralph Fiennes
    Best Visual Effects
    Best Cinematography
    Best Art Direction
    Best Visual Effects
    Best Sound Mixing

    …but I MUST insist on Alan Rickman. That man hit it out of the ballpark this time around. Like never before and like no one else in the series. I really wouldn’t be surprised if both him and Fiennes got nominated for Supporting Actor.

    I’d also like to add that if Social Network was not only nominated for but WON Best Original Score, then Alexandre Desplat deserves a nomination at the very least.

  • 31 7-23-2011 at 7:26 pm

    Andy O said...

    For the record, I’ve been a fan of this since I was 8 (I’m 18 now), which was around the time the first movie was released. I then read the books that were available and followed the series adamantly from then on.

    Books:
    Half-Blood Prince
    Deathly Hallows
    Goblet of Fire
    Sorcerer’s Stone
    Prisoner of Azkaban
    Chamber of Secrets
    Order of the Phoenix

    Films:
    Deathly Hallows 2
    Deathly Hallows 1
    Goblet of Fire
    Sorcerer’s Stone
    Prisoner of Azkaban
    Chamber of Secrets
    Half-blood Prince (only because it wasn’t as boring as – )
    Order of the Phoenix

    And for the life of me, I can’t understand this horrible critique of the first two movies. They were better than Prince and Phoenix combined.

  • 32 8-12-2011 at 10:02 am

    girolle said...

    Books:
    Half-Blood Prince
    Deathly Hallows
    Chamber of Secrets = Prisoner of Azkaban
    Order of the Phoenix = Sorcerer’s Stone
    Goblet of Fire

    Films:
    Deathly Hallows P2
    Half-Blood Prince
    Chamber of Secrets
    Deathly Hallows P1
    Sorcerer’s Stone = Prisoner of Azkaban
    Order of the Pheonix
    Goblet of Fire

    I don’t see why everyone hates “Half-Blood Prince” film. I think it’s one of the best and before I thought really hard about it, to me, it was the best. But this could just be my biasness for Draco Malfoy, as I think the character is more complex than people care to notice.

    “Order” conflicts me. I hated Umbrage (but loved her at the same time) and I thought Harry was too arrogant for my liking but it’s understandable and I like how it shows how emotionally stressed he is.

    “Goblet”…I just did not like that film for some reason…

    “Chamber” is more frightening than people realize, I feel…

    I’m kind of taking a slight guess on the books because it’s been a while since I’ve read them (especially the earlier ones (1-4)).

  • 33 8-12-2011 at 10:09 am

    girolle said...

    Rephrase:

    I don’t see why everyone hates the film “Half-Blood Prince”. Deathly Hallows P2 is good but I almost like “Prince” more. … For me, in terms of plot development, it and “Order” contain rather large shifts in the plot and character development.