A Film Analysis (continued): Deathly Hallows Part Two
By Jeffery Tucker
ABSTRACT: After analyzing all the movies in his previous essay, the author shares his thoughts on the recently released final installment.
The Harry Potter film series, after a decade of production, has finally come to an end. What began as a children's fantasy with earnest innocence has culminated in a dark, depressing world for the series' protagonist to exist in. Expertly crafted and directed by David Yates, the series has reached its climactic conclusion with one of the best entries in the saga and one of this year's greatest films.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 begins where its predecessor left off, with the death of Dobby the Elf and Voldemort finally acquiring the Elder Wand. Harry, Ron, and Hermione get straight to work to find and destroy the rest of the Horcruxes that house pieces of Voldemort's soul. Seeing as how Part 1 ended on a cliffhanger, Part 2 doesn't do much to remind the audience of what happened before, relying instead on quick flashbacks and the audience's memory. This is a bold move and it unfortunately doesn't work too well as the beginning seems rushed until the trio reaches the outskirts of Hogwarts, where the wonder kicks off.
As teased by the trailer, we are treated to a battle of good versus evil where much is at stake if the latter triumphs. The film wades through set piece after set piece of destruction and mayhem caused by dark forces. Excellent character development is interspersed between these moments, continuing the trend started in Part 1 that the series lacked for years. David Yates has the greatest handle on the characters that the other directors could never quite grasp, exempting perhaps Alfonso Cuaron, but even he couldn't accomplish what Yates has done in his two-part finale.
Hallows: Part 2 is indeed dark and Yates' decision to show Voldemort at his most violent is a wise choice to exemplify the evil that needs to be decimated for the good of the wizarding world. Ralph Fiennes plays his role with utmost attention and trumps everything he's done in the series up until this point. He plays menacing convincingly and is able to show Voldemort's vulnerability with ease as he treks on to complete his mission of killing the Boy Who Lived.
Another key player is Severus Snape, brilliantly portrayed by Alan Rickman. Snape has a secret that only he, Voldemort, and Dumbledore are aware of and when all is revealed, Rickman's performance brings the film to an emotional climax. Rickman has been underutilized in the series as various directors over the years have had higher priorities in their visions; director David Yates has rectified that here. While the screen presence isn't impactful in terms of duration, it is with content, and that's what matters most. You will not see Rickman being used as an object of comedy as you see him in Mike Newell's Goblet of Fire and in certain instances in Order of the Phoenix (also directed by Yates). Here his sole purpose is to advance the dramatics of the story. Many have posited that he may be nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar, and I can see why.
Not only is Yates' stellar direction seen through character moments in the film, it's also on display through its visuals. The man knows how to direct and he has consistently outshined his predecessors, particularly Christopher Columbus and Mike Newell. The action sequences are vivid and intriguing because of his talent, along with aid from cinematographer Eduardo Serra, whose camerawork is on par with what he achieved in Hallows: Part 1. It's interesting to compare the visual sense from the beginning of the saga and the end and note the completely different direction the series took. It began with innocent direction (fitting, but quite bland) to reflect Harry's introduction to the world, and ended with a bold and frantic nature to symbolize that everything is at stake.
Hallows: Part 2 is not without its faults and they mirror what was wrong with Part 1: humor. The humor is out of place in the former and it continues with the latter. It rears its ugly head in the midst of battle with a character that plays a major role that decides the fates of everyone. It just doesn't feel right when the rest of the film isn't light-hearted. Rupert Grint, as Ron Weasley, even has a bit of a comedy moment during a scene that ends up being tense; it would have worked better without it. Another fault, as I mentioned in the second paragraph, lies in the rushed nature of the beginning, where not enough is offered to remind audiences about what happened during the end of Part 1. We see snippets of Voldemort getting his hands on the wand and Dobby being dead, but we should have seen one more thing to set up an action piece that followed.
The Harry Potter franchise is now complete, seeing ups and downs throughout the 10 year film period. It's the most consistent movie franchises in terms of quality and may never be matched for a long while. J.K. Rowling's story has been given the motion picture treatment and there's not much else left of her vision. Now that it's over, fans will most likely revisit the films as they still do with the books they're based on, long after they ended.