Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2- A Tone Consistent Bittersweet End to a Formulaic and Slighlty Deep Themed Franchise

And so it finally comes to an end. As the credits role in the latest and final chapter of the David Yates helmed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 some will feel a sense of bittersweet nostalgia while most should feel it is truly the end of a mass produced franchise of formulaically structured, repetitively dramatic, and tirelessly non-engaging films (most, however, will not feel this). Because of its large fan base gathered from the books, the Harry Potter films have always disregarded any attempt to fully engage the viewer in the process but rather depended on vague interpretation and simplistic plot reveals that were the bare minimum in regards to drama, story, and action. In their minds, “why fix a clock that isn’t broken.” Certainly the clock isn’t like your grandfather’s elegant towering cuckoo clock, one of elegance and detail, but rather the mass produced and trustworthy digital clock that might try and disguise itself from the others but really it’s just like everything else on the market. This isn’t to take away from the better chapters in this film series, such as Prisoner of Azkaban or Order of the Phoenix. In the end the second part of Deathly Hallows is one of the better chapters due to the fact that it actually contains action sequences with magic and also has the final moment where good does conquer evil in a relatively satisfying way. However, all of the films always seem rushed as they try and present the plot’s important elements in frantic exposition. It probably would have served the creative elements better to elongate the films so each and every detail could be mustered and absorbed. But that wouldn’t have served the studios well in their running time to fit as many paying customers in a day as they could. Despite the nitpicky criticism of what could have been we’re left with a final chapter that ultimately serves its purpose. It’s a blockbuster that has significant action and more than the usual dramatic elucidation (featuring an absolutely divine Alan Rickman who finally gets to shine) that balances the themes of the film series in a suitable fashion.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 opens and progresses just like every other Harry Potter film n the series. The film opens up reminding the audience the state of events that took place in the previous chapter, there is a beginning action sequence, a foreboding sense of more danger that is alleviated with a familiar face, exposition and continuation of the puzzle and challenge at hand, a more dangerous action sequence, the threat of defeat, and the final conclusion that allows our hero to come ahead. Every Potter film acts in this formula, which is the main reason why the films feel so similar as though they’re manufactured to purposely resemble each other. Certainly the themes get darker and clearer as the series goes on, but the series loses that magic, if you will, once you can begin to predict the character’s situations and outcomes. Granted you probably already know them if you’ve read the books but the art of filmmaking and manipulating the audience’s emotions and expectations through the technical process could have been utilized to its full effect. Instead we’re stuck with the same script process, the same technical tricks, and pretty much the same movie experience every time. Compare this to the original Star Wars trilogy, which mixed its script presentation between the three films and added the unique ability to act as its own rise fall and rise again narrative linked between all three. The Potter films do have ups and downs between but it acts in a more jagged fashion than a natural story progression. Luckily the darker themes of death, sacrifice, acceptance, and the struggle to overcome evil give the audience that drive and grounding that makes any journey worthwhile. It is indeed a satisfying ending to the journey, though the technical camera work and CGI action aren’t too different from the rest of the studio produced blockbusters. It’s an average series overall when you add up the formulaic script progression, typical Hollywood camera use and action, and mildly convincing acting.

Any of the devout fans of the series will appreciate the similar style and will most definitely enjoy themselves in the theater. It definitely doesn’t deviate from the product brand that the series has developed over the years. This is the direction the studios are heading, which is trying to develop easily re-produced franchise films, which are indeed money makers due to its easily pleasing audience connection but ultimately lacks anything truly unique. But again, the Harry Potter series adapted to this formula and stayed true to a developing message of heroism in a time of darkness and resilience against a defined enemy. Too little will movies actually address that there is something known as evil, which means not addressing an essential and intimidating aspect of the human experience. There is no gray moral dance around the idea of Voldemort who strives for power and immortality leaving Harry Potter to become a man, a sacrifice, and a sign of courage against those who need to be confronted and defeated. It’s a theme and a message that remains and comes to a satisfying conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2. And while the emotional involvement and connection the film’s development could have been accessed easier with more ingenious writing, better technical filmmaking, and more convincing acting, the overall experience of Harry Potter as a franchise is an interesting one. Hopefully these are the first in a changing wave of franchise films that take risks instead of staying on a safe and risk-free path.

Grade: B-

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