574 of 646 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2011
When all is said and done - when the eye candy special effects of Quidditch matches and fantastical creatures has been superseded by advances in technology in Hollywood blockbusters yet to come - it is the little moments that this viewer and his wife will return to.
When a friend one time bemoaned the fact that `Half-Blood Prince' gets bogged down in pointless hormonal teen-angst instead of getting on with the story, I smiled... and shook my head.
No, I said, that IS the story and it's what I love about the Harry Potter series: it never loses track of the characters. It never forgets that, when viewed as a whole, these eight movies are a story of growing up, of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Of love and friendship and death. Because without those little funny and touching moments between the characters - if all you want is for the movies to rush from one plot element to another - then all you're left with is plot... and no story. Remember: plot is what happens TO the characters; story is what happens AS A RESULT of the characters.
That's the real gorgeous beauty of these movies, and it's what will bring viewers back repeatedly to their DVD shelves. As Frodo said to Sam in `The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers': "What are we fighting for Sam?" "That's there's still some good in this world," Sam replies, "and that it's worth fighting for."
That's why you need those little indulgent moments, because without them it's just razzle-dazzle special effects and set-pieces. Harry and Ginny's first kiss: they're in the Room of Requirement and Ginny tells Harry to close his eyes while she hides Professor Snape's copy of Advanced Potion Making. And before Harry opens his eyes Ginny leans forward, kisses him and whispers, "That can stay hidden up here too, if you like." That, my fellow Muggles, is pure movie gold. That's what the characters are fighting for. Love. Yes, the PLOT concerns itself with good triumphing over evil, but that only comes to pass as a result of the STORY which is about friendship. Because that is something worth fighting for.
It's why the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's astonishing trilogy, `His Dark Materials', is an utter failure: `The Golden Compass' movie rushes from one plot element to another: and THEN we go here, and THEN we go there. Never slowing down to allow the characters TO BE characters. What are they fighting for? Well, nothing the viewer could care less about...
Ultimately, all of this success comes about because of the brilliant way in which the author J.K. Rowling has constructed her seven-volume storyline. See, `The Chronicles of Narnia' are good - very good - but in the end don't quite fully succeed, and this is because the author, C.S. Lewis, had never envisioned them as a series: `The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' was originally intended by the writer to be a one off. As thoroughly enjoyable as the three Narnia movies are, there is no through-story like Rowling's Harry-Voldermort. Indeed, over the course of the three Narnia movies even some of the Pevensie children themselves become side characters. And although that was entirely the point - part of the plot - in the end it harms the story. It dilutes what the characters are fighting for. It weakens its forcus.
Look at the Harry Potter series: viewed in hindsight it's not just the story of teenage friendships, for it also presents an astounding portrayal of one man coming to be viewed in the end entirely differently by the viewer. Professor Snape. What an astonishing character arc - and yet Rowling had it all there, right from the beginning: Snape using a counter-curse against Professor Quirrell to save Harry during the first movie's Quidditch match. Wait, isn't Snape the bad guy?! We're made to wonder, right from that first movie all the way through to the revelations of the eighth. `Narnia' has nothing on that. It's clear that Rowling has thought her seven-volume story through like a military operation: the first four books may have come out only a year apart, but the author had begun planning them seven years before the first one was ever published.
And the friendships, that's all there too. Look at the Ron-Hermione moments seeded throughout the entire movie series. Harry and Hermione are just good friends, thus all the unself-conscious hugs she gives him. Yet there is a physical tension - a conscious awareness of each other - between her and Ron. At the end of `Chamber of Secrets' Hermione flings her arms around Harry... but, both of them equally awkward and embarrassed, Ron and Hermione only shake hands. In `Prisoner of Askaban' during Hagrid's first lesson with Harry cautiously approaching Buckbeak, Herminone grabs Ron's hand, before quickly letting go, both of them looking around uncomfortably. All, finally, converging in Hermione's emotional outburst at the end of the Yule Ball in `Goblet of Fire' where (like a soul crying out `Look at me!') she says, "Next time there's a Ball, pluck up the courage to ask me before somebody else does - and not as a last resort!" And in another moment of movie gold, Harry and Hermione comforting each other on the steps in Hogwarts, unable to be with the one they want. "How does it feel, Harry, when you see Dean with Ginny?" After Hermione sends her bird charms crashing into the wall beside Ron and Ron flees, Harry replies, "It feels like this."
It's why `Half-Blood Prince' is one of my favourite instalments: not only is it the calm before the storm of the seventh and eighth movies but it allows the characters' friendships to come to fruition. `Half-Blood Prince' does not become sidetracked, far from it. You need that, because that is the story. It's what I love about it: yes, they're wizards and witches but the film makers never lose sight of the fact that they're also young adults going through the most important transitional period of their lives. These movies aren't about fantastical magical events inconveniently interrupted by mushy teenage moments. Instead they're precisely all about those ordinary, everyday teenage moments, played against the backdrop of incredible events. Those amazing events only occur at all because of who the characters are; it's only natural that the plot should play second to the story of their lives. Because they are what truly matters. Because they, as Sam would put it, "Are worth fighting for."
As if that wasn't enough, as if the story of Harry-Ron-Hermione (and, indeed, Snape) isn't in itself reason enough to revisit this whole series, Rowling has also given us an amazing supporting cast of characters. All too often in a series, all the characters outwith the main group rarely hold a reader's/viewer's attention for long. And yet Rowling has created not one single boring character, and what an amazing supporting cast they are: the Dursley, the Weasleys, the Malfoys, Hagrid, Dobby, Sirius, Bellatrix, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and on and on. In fact, one of Rowling's most inspired moves, and certainly a wonderful way of keeping things fresh, was to continuously have a new colourful character each year as the Professor of the Dark Arts. Glideroy Lockhart, Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Dolores Umbridge. Not to forget the delightful potions master from `Half-Blood Prince', Horace Slughorn, or the Professor of Divination, Trelawney. Then, too, you have the caretaker Argus Filch, the ghost Nearly Headless Nick. Well, you get the idea. Quidditch, the Ministry of Magic, the Dementors. The richness of the world Rowling has created is so rewarding that I can't ever imagine tiring of it.
Watching these characters - and, indeed, the actors - grow up before us is fascinating. I love the fact the first two movies are kids movies; there's no hint, really, of what lies ahead. Until, of course, you get to `Prisoner of Askaban'. Even the naysayer film critics sat up at that one and said, "Hey, hold on a minute..." From the fifth film onwards these were no longer merely kids' movies. It's what accounts for their immensely broad appeal: children will watch them for the action and special effects, teenagers and adults for the humour and the series' growing depth. Even the opening titles change as the story darkens: from bright gold in the first few movies to chipped and crumbling grey stone.
Viewed as one 1100+ minute über-movie the achievement is nothing short of remarkable.
Thank you, Rowling.
And thank you Warner Bros and the cast and crew for the ten-year visual journey of these marvellous books that you have taken my wife and I on.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2014
It's only taken 3 years but, with a new DVD player, I feel I've finally seen this film properly (when we saw it at the pictures, when it came out, we had a nearly empty cinema with a family of six right behind us, and the five year old explaining the concept of cinema to the three year old. I'd have said something but was afraid of being shot).
It's very good. Right from the first (ish) shot of Snape staring down over Hogwarts, with the students marching in Stalinist blocks. My only regret with the whole thing (I think) is that the Carrows make such a poor showing.
And the far more grown-up emphasis is evident from the first scene in the cottage by the sea. Luna dispassionately stating that wind chimes do not keep evil at bay. The following exchange with Griphook and Olivander are shorn of the whimsical cadences with which adults like to frost a child's world. Griphook is cold-bloodedly mercenary, while Olivander is a broken man (Warwick Davies and John Hurt both on tremendous form) and Harry is no longer too young to tell Olivander 'You're lying', nor too nice not to at least consider double-crossing Griphook.
Of course the goblin is a double-dealing little git, who gets incinerated, and the whole Goblin species seems to lose credibility in Gringotts' treatment of that poor dragon, but part of the new Voldemort-era look of the bank is a modernising of all the old Victoriana, so they all now look, well, like C21 bankers. It's rather as if someone is making a point like 'Don't trust bankers cos they're just like the Goblins in this film'.
(One of my favourite moments is Helena Bonham-Corset playing Hermione disguised as Belatrix - it's very funny)
And from there it's off to Hogsmeade, and then into the school, and then into battle. The final moves of the story, pretty much as JKR wrote them in the book and all present and correct.
There will always be people to criticise the special FX, but they look great to me; I especially like the army of stone knights defending Hogwarts and the first barrage of spells breaking on the force field (or whatever they call it).
One of the commendable strengths of this is a lack of anything fun whatever in the battle scenes - there are no glorious charges, bold captures, heroic feats of martial prowess; while McGonagal arming the defences has undoubted style, and the army of evil is impressively huge, there is no pretence that war is anything other than horrible. The main characters that die do so off-screen - no noble deaths for Remus, Tonks or Fred, we just see the corpses, and the wounded. The horror of battle is finely preserved within the 12 Certificate - a difficult line to tread - and the final scene is Harry, Herione and Ron surrounded by devastation, rather than a Star Wars type victory parade - even so, it's hard not to punch the air and shout 'Yes!' when Molly Weasley finally disposes of Belatrix - mis-quoting Aliens in the process!
Narcissa Malfoy getting her son out of harm's way is also a nice moment (good job all round that Harry saved his life really); many strands of the story have a fierce maternalism woven into them somewhere.
The Hermione=Ron relationship just about works (I love it when she does the very Virgo thing of 'Oh, he got it right - he does listen to me after all!'), Matthew Lewis does excellent work as Neville, Evanna Lynch is still pleasingly of any world but this one as Luna, and it's nice to see Cho again.
Just a pity about Jamie Waylett - I'd have liked to have seen Crabbe turn on Draco at the end.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2013
Perhaps this is the best place to review the series as well as the last installment. We have seen Daniel Radcliffe mature from a fairy bad actor to one that is fairly convincing, particularly in his standing up to Aberforth Dumbledore. Emma Watson has gone from awkward kid who wore her emotions on her sleeve to Maxim's top 100 Hottest women. The passing of Richard Harris was a major let down to the series as Michael Gambon couldn't really fill his shoes. The most interesting and complex character was that of Snape. Alan Rickman made the series with his portrayal. The casting of the quirky minor characters made the story most enjoyable, all the way down to Mrs. Fink. Rowling's use of classical mythology, astronomy and the occult made the series an incredible educational experience. One of my favorite characters was the under used Luna Lovegood. She was a breath of fresh air.
The direction of Chris Columbus was by far the best as well as the screen adaptations, which more closely followed the books. Starting with the third installment, the audience got short changed (There, I said it) especially those who didn't read the books...such as myself. This wasn't a bad thing as it led to a bonding with my niece who did read the books and I would take her to the films so she could explain them to me. Like Hermione, she is one of those "insufferable know-it-alls" who loves to let you know what she knows. (Good luck with that brain surgeon thing.)
In this final episode, the gang of 3 go after the remaining Horcrux(s) which are now easier to locate than in the last 2 films. This one follows the later films in that it lacks the humor of the earlier ones.
The movie, like the series drives home the ideas of teamwork, friendship, and courage. Goblins, spiders, troll, elves, death eaters, a dragon, and of course he who we do not speak. Personally, I would have done the ending differently, especially with Snape and Malfoy. But I don't want to discuss any possible plot spoilers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2012
After the Part One of Deathly Hallows i have to say i was eagerly awaiting what was to come with Part Two. A lot of reviews seemed to slate Part One quite a lot for being slow, but I liked that it built up tension all the way to the ending.
With Part Two the action starts right from the word go, and doesn't really seem to slow down. Its odd to think that in the book the second film is actually 12 and a bit chapters long. enough to squeeze every detail from the book into the film, which i thought they did very well with Part One. Part Two on the other hand just seems to focus more on the special effects than the actual storytelling. I got the impression that because this was the last film the creator's were going out with a bang, a very large, stylized, visually sumptuous bang. At the end of the day, its a fantasy film for anyone to just sit back and enjoy, but when you've gotten into the story through the books its a little different and you can't help but wonder "why on earth was that put in?" the harry/voldemort showdown at the end springs to mind.
Its the shortest film, really they could have made the film just as long as Part One and really made sure everything was covered properly.
All in all, its not bad. im still very much waiting for a supposed re-release of this film at the end of the year, hopefully with parts one and two cut together and hopefully with more additional scenes added that weren't included as deleted scenes on the special features disks.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
First a confession: I used to be a muggle until very recently. I never read the books and I watched "Harry Potter" movies for the first time in April and May this year at the express invitation (order) of my daughter. And since the first movie I watched I was immediately captured by the magic of those stories and I saw the last movie in the saga the first day it opened in cinemas.
Considering that the movie is still playing, I will try not to provide spoilers, but let me just say, that this film really ends the whole "Harry Potter" saga with great skill, power and brilliance. I am certain that the scenario had to cut some excellent things which were present in the book, but still, the final chapter is a VERY powerful story!
All the main actors perform brilliantly. Daniel Radcliffe has a real talent and in this movie it shows. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are as good - and I see a great future in the movies especially for Ms Watson. Allan Rickman's Professor Snape is simply impressive and Helena Bonham-Carter's Bellatrix Lestrange is as crazy as usual. Ralph Fiennes plays Voldemort as being even more fiendish than in previous parts - and the Dark Lord also displays personnel management style clearly inspired by Darth Vader... I must say that the delight with which Voldemort screams his "Avada Kedavra" curse every time in this movie made me really shiver...
The thing which I liked particularly is that some of the secondary characters rise to their best. It is of course the case for Neville Longbottom, who finds his internal hero and for Luna Lovegood, who is my absolutely favourite character since the first moment she appeared in the story. But the character who suddenly deploys the wings to rise to her real greatness is Professor Minerva McGonagall! This is without any doubt her greatest hour and she reveals herself to be not only a great witch but also a great general!
An excellent idea was to plunge the movie mostly into darkest night and gray shadows. Even when the sun rises, it is obscured not only by thick dark clouds but also by something else, like ashes of a burning world mixed with tears of grief... The atmosphere for this last battle for the future of the world is quite apocalyptic. The battle scenes are very impressive and the siege of Hogwarts seems to be fought as intensely as that of Minas Tirith in "Lord of the Rings".
The ending of the movie is very good and closes with necessary dignity this incredible saga. I recommend to everybody to see this film, even if you are not that much into "Harry Potter". After seeing this last chapter of the saga I abjured once again and for always my previous muggleness and I will now read the books which my daughter will (I hope) lend me...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2015
A bit disappointed! They did 7 films to get to this little lump?! Too bad...it's ok but nothin' more. Did expect a fair bit more epic-like storytelling, on a bigger canvas, than this "how-do-we-end-this-without-overdoing-it" dud? Well, in my opinion they should have overdone it. The series(and story in itself)could have carried it. Yates did well on "Phoenix" and "The Half-Blood Prince", but seemingly have had a great deal of trouble for the last ones, and looks a bit like an amateur with good technical knowledge, but lacking seriously in the storytelling department! It should've ended with a loud bang, the series deserved that, but it sorta' turned into a fizzz!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2012
A decent enough action-fantasy but unsurprisingly surrounded by masses of hype and rhetoric, being as it is, the final installment in this juggernaut of a movie franchise.
Dan Radcliffe is certainly starting to show some acting chops, although he, like the majority of characters here, is fairly peripheral to the action. If anyone stands out, it's the goofy but determined Neville Longbottom - a solid role-model for awkward teens the world over, while Ralph Fiennes' Machiavellian 'dark lord', the nasally-challenged Voldemort, finally gets to take centre-stage, but loses much of his power to terrify in the process.
The effects are as impressive as ever, the destruction of Hogwarts immense, and the wand duels exciting; even the cheesy ending feels welcome, despite its indulgences. Overall though, like the last three films (and their parent novels) in the series, this is overblown and poorly edited, which takes away from the enjoyment factor.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Hallows II is the antithesis of its counterpart. Instead of contemplation and scenery it's all-action, everything into the cauldron, fireworks mayhem. No time for navel-gazing. One final co-star to introduce, Kelly MacDonald as Thingemee Ravenclaw (?) and then all the old faces, alive or dead, monster or muggle, and on to the showdown with the world's most angry private school alumnus, Lord V.
So, easy to get swept along and enjoy it, but impossible to ignore the feeling of haste, the continually banal and prosaic dialogue (McGonagle: Harry (pregnant pause)...It's good to see yer.) or the absence of interesting duels when battle commences. Meh. Tom really hated that school, you know.
This was the last hurrah for all concerned, but one laced with fatigue. I'd be surprised if there's even anyone who has the energy or interest to be reading these reviews, or finish this sen..........................................
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2011
Is it as good as the final book? No. So don't set your expectations too high.
That said, it's a blummin good watch. Miles better than part one. At just over two hours it fizzed by and I was thoroughly entertained. Okay there are several dodgy accents and I'm still not certain that Daniel Radcliffe will ever be another Laurence Olivier, but there's something for everyone. There's heroism, comedy and action aplenty. Plus, it ties up the entire saga with a nice little bow.
Put the beer on ice, order the pizza, put your feet up and enjoy.
My only production gripe is that it's a bit gloomy, which I am led to believe is a result of being filmed in 3D for the cinema. But, what the heck, after the first beer you won't care.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2011
Regardless of your views on Harry Potter as a whole or whether this film really does this literary phenomenon justice (on balance it does), there can be no doubt that this is a great climax to one of the great cinematic challenges. There will always be a debate about the place of J.K. Rowling's novels and their film adaptations in the wider pantheon of literary and film history. But if one wants a true measure of how good this series has been, they should simply ask: what would the world be like if Harry hadn't been helped out of his cupboard?
I know that the answer is: poorer! The first novels that I read were the first two Harry Potter books. And to a child at the age of 6, as I was then, what wasn't there to like about a downtrodden young boy who discovers that he is a wizard and is whisked away to a magic school by a giant man? That is the magic of this series. Long after the special effects have been superseded and there has been a disastrous (American) attempt at remaking the films, it will be the stories that remain with us. We all want to be Harry, Ron or Hermione because we can relate to them. We believe that we can have Harry's courage, Ron's heart or Hermione's fierce loyalty and skill because we have experienced their emotions alongside our own. That is the reason for the success of these novels and films: We could just as easily imagine ourselves as the subject.
But enough of the nostalgic yearning for my childhood, this film was the perfect send off for this particular series. As someone who prefers the books over the films anyway, there are obviously things which should have had more emphasis! My mind instantly drifts to the sidelining of Ron and Hermione. I thought that "Half- Blood Prince" and "Deathly Hallows: Part 1" had built up their burgeoning feelings for each other really well. But after all that good work, their much anticipated kiss just seemed to arrive out of nowhere in this film, rather than springing from another one of those excellent little sub- plots which make the novels so good. But considering the amount of stuff that needed to be fitted in, it was good effort. Also, the King's Cross scene was a let down, as Dumbledore explains pretty much nothing and leaves me wondering why Harry isn't dead. Although, having read the books endlessly, this was self explanatory. Also the Epilogue feels just as clumsy in this film as it does in Rowling's novel. It spoils the magic of the ending. As others have also picked up, the producers seemed to have decided that, as it's the last film, let's blow up as much of Hogwarts as we can.
However, lets look at the positives. I think that the leads did well in this film; and whatever people say about their acting at various stages, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson will always be Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. But the real star turn, as in the novel, comes from Severus Snape. Alan Rickman really steals the show, as he has done throughout the series. We have loved to hate this man for the last decade on screen, but the superb execution of "The Prince's Tale" leaves us feeling as devastated as Snape himself is when he learns that Lily Potter is dead. I think we all shed a tear for the incredible sacrifices that he made, as much as Rickman's superlative performance. Maggie Smith is as imperious as ever as Minerva McGonagall, whilst Helena Bonham Carter is sublime as the wildly cunning Bellatrix Lestrange. Ralph Fiennes simply exudes menace whenever he is on screen as our irredeemable villain, Lord Voldemort. He takes on a rather muted role here, strangely, although I do think that the way in which the menace of Voldemort is portrayed in the novels is almost impossible to bring to the big screen. The scene in the Forbidden Forest with the Resurrection Stone is also a brilliant emotional journey.
The special effects are excellent as one might expect, especially when the magical protection is created around Hogwarts, to then be destroyed by Voldemort in fury. Alexandre Desplat's score is also superb and really reflects the subtle moods and nuances of the story. If one good thing came out of the Epilogue, it allowed Desplat to use the brilliant "Leaving Hogwarts" theme for the last time! As a film, I think that David Yates has done a great job. This was probably the biggest challenge in film. Almost everyone had an opinion on how it should be done, along with the added pressure from Warner Brother's to make this film palatable for all ages, in order to maximise potential income from their most lucrative franchise. Left to their own devices, this film could easily have been a 15. For those who think that a lot of the humour is missing, then they are probably right. However, it is harder to establish this in a film. The Potter series doesn't really do black humour, so many of the jokes or asides in the novel just wouldnt fit the tone. I think the result would have been worse if the producers had attempted to shoe- horn the humour in.
All in all, it has been a magical journey since I first picked up "The Philosopher's Stone as a 6 year old. As the credits rolled on this film, I suddenly realised that there was no more Harry, no more vestige of my childhood, to come. But then I thought that it doesn't really matter that there will be no more "new" adventures. The magic of the series, its values of courage and loyalty and friendship, will live on. And naturally, we will always want to go to Hogwarts.