Two of a Kind: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” or “If Hermione’s Standing Between Us, It’s Okay to Hold Hands” by Matilda Dixon-Smith

Posted on July 17, 2011

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A generation of twentysomethings wept this week as one of the last vestiges of their childhood disappeared. That’s right readers, IT’S THE END OF EVERYTHING EVAH. I’m not quite sure how I survived. Probably because I wasn’t engaged in a gripping mid-air face-grabbing fight with Harry Potter above the decrepit buildings of Hogwarts.

I’d wager our resident Racist-Wizard Mass-Murder, Voldemort (or Ol’ Noseless Face, if you’re feeling cheeky), feels pretty good about himself. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 opens just as we left off in Part 1. Ol’ Noseless has the Elder Wand, y’all. HE TOTALLY PRYED IT FROM DUMBLEDORE’S DECAYING DEAD-FINGERS. Elsewhere, Ron and Hermione recover together from an ORDEAL at Malfoy Manor, involving Bellatrix Lestrange and a rather sharp knife. Elsewhere elsewhere, Harry buries elf pal Dobby in some sand dunes (that’s hardly going to keep him down there, all that wind erosion…). This is really sad, because Dobby was rad. On their quest to find and destroy all Ol’ Noseless’ horcruxes (if you don’t know, I cannot help you), Harry, Ron and Hermione are 3 down, 3 to go. Having discovered the existence of the Deathly Hallows, Harry has a decision to make (this is not articulated well): Hallows or Horcruxes? Harry sensibly chooses horcruxes, and with the help of a goblin, ascertains that the next horcrux (Hufflepuff’s cup) is hidden in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts, the wizard bank*.

*If that whole paragraph makes no sense to you, it would be wise to pack it in here. It only gets worse.

He’s all “vanquishing evil is tough, yo!”

So, one Gringotts break-in, and the hi-est of jinks later, the gang are dropped off at Hogwarts by a dragon for The Final Battle. Apparently there was some memo sent out to the entire wizarding world that this Final Battle would take place right then, at Hogwarts, because everyone’s there. Even Filch gets his little Final Battle moment. I mean, FILCH. There’s blood, tears, fire, smashed-up bricks and A LOT of yelling. Who will survive the Battle, and who will perish? More importantly, will Harry live or die? If you don’t know, I’m not going to be mean and ruin for you. Let’s just quote Harry in the film: “It’s complicated”.

Face-off, with face-grabbing…

Even for a lass with a seemingly endless supply of opinions, this was a tough one to review. As I am part of Generation Harry, there’s a sizeable soft spot in my heart for a be-spectacled Daniel Radcliffe. Undeniably though, the ‘franchise’ has its problems—most of which manifest in this final chapter.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot to like in this film. The action was epic. I’m quite impressed by how they have presented the magic (and wand-battle) on-screen. I thought the Death Eater Vaporising Bubble around Hogwarts was cool. The Battle also had this great feeling, like the characters had been waiting for 8 films to finally be able to beat the crap out of each other. It was a defiant moment. The rendering of some of the more tragic scenes (Harry with the resurrection stone, for example) was quite lovely. While I thought the epilogue was twee in the book, the film version was a bit cute. I did raise a little eyebrow at the sheer number of Death Eaters storming Hogwarts (surely there aren’t that many).

Gorgeous Emma.

I liked Yates’ whole ‘muted tones’ thing, especially in Order of the Phoenix, however I think he missed an awesome opportunity to contrast that against the colourful wonder I remember reading about in the headquarters for Dumbledore’s Army. Generally though, the scheme works well. Usually, I fervently object to the notion of having limbs FLYING AT MY FACE but I actually quite liked the 3D. It was unobtrusive and well-done—often beautiful. I also really enjoyed the construction of Snape’s memories (done far better this time than in Phoenix, though still too brief).

I’ve always marvelled at why screenwriters (in book adaptations) choose to change minor plot details for no apparent reason. I’ve already mentioned the face-grabbing (every person watched the trailer and went “Harry doesn’t pull Voldemort off a cliff!”). Some of the changes were clearly made to remedy time constraints or over-complication. Some, however, were useless and silly—like Harry rolling awkwardly out of Hagrid’s arms in front of everyone in the Final Battle, or changing Voldemort’s location in the Battle from the Shrieking Shack to some random boat shed.

Matthew Lewis playing a rather battered Neville Longbottom.

Rupert Grint has always been a wonderful Ron and Emma Watson’s Hermione is rather gorgeous (because she’s Emma Watson, and she is gorgeous). Matthew Lewis does an amusing and commendable job with the exposure of Neville Longbottom’s latent heroism, and Maggie Smith returns triumphantly as the frank, hilarious Professor McGonagall. I absolutely hate Bonnie Wright’s Ginny. She is all wrong, and suffers from serious miscasting at an early age (i.e. they didn’t realise Ginny would turn out hot and awesome). I’ve also fallen in and out of love many times with Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry. He’s certainly improved leaps and bounds since his early days, but there’s still something slightly wooden about his performance. It is clear that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson have a very special bond, which translates beautifully on-screen.

My main problem with characterisation comes not from the actors themselves, but from the production team who do their actors (and audience) a great disservice by entirely missing the point of the series. This was most clear when I discovered they had cut the Dumbledore/Grindelwald storyline. While I underastand why time contraints would have made that decision a necessity, this storyline goes to the heart of Rowling’s thesis: that power is dangerous and can corrupt. The Dumbledore revelation in book 7 serves to explain why Harry is so special; he can resist power’s corruption whereas Dumbledore could not, Grindelwald could not, Voldemort cannot. Without this key point, Dumbledore is just a white-bearded dude and Harry a snivelling hero-brat. Cutting this out undermines the depth of the story, and leaves a viewer slightly unsatisfied. Also, they totally alluded to the plot point in Part 1, then appeared to forget all about it in Part 2. Seriously, why waste our time?

Also, on characterisation, would Voldemort really hug Draco Malfoy, would he??? I feel this lack of understanding comes from the rush to get all the films out quickly, and to make as much money as possible. When one is interested only in creating a cash cow, one fails to see a story’s true magic.

Despite this major failing in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was a pretty good ending, for the films at least. Part 2 is a jaunt, and no doubt Harry fans everywhere will have a good time when they see Ron and Hermione make out, then laugh about it. Hilarious.

Two Harry Potter 7 Part 2 trailers for you:

What did you think of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2? Do you love the film series, or hate it? How annoying is Bonnie Wright?? Wax lyrical about it here in the comments.

Matilda Dixon-Smith is You’re Dripping Egg’s Editor-in-chief and co-creator. She has also written about “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt1” or “The Babysitter’s Club Goes Camping”.

For the companion to this “Two of a Kind” article, click here

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Posted in: Movies, Two of a Kind