This review will be quick and to the point, so as to lessen the risk of my forgetting certain portions of the film.
As usual, this will be divided between the Good, and the Bad. Oh, and I saw this on a standard 2D theater.
I would definitely say that the performances of the actors are the strength of this film. Considering the somewhat inferior material to begin with (*gasp!*), the actors were able to deliver performances which were emotionally truthful. Alan Rickman possibly gives THE performance of his career as the tortured Snape; Ralph Fiennes is as villainous as ever (not to mention Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange); and trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint show some of the best acting since the start of the film franchise. Special mention should also be given to Matthew Lewis, who plays the used to be bumbling Neville Longbottom (keyword: USED, watch the film and you’ll see why).
The second strength of the film would have to be direction. David Yates has always found ways to work around the problematic portions of the books in his previous works (though Part 1 would still be the anomaly). As for the action sequences and effects shots, this installment contains some of the best effects since the wand fight between Voldemort and Dumbledore in Order of the Phoenix. The Battle of Hogwarts is definitely the film’s set-piece.
Lastly, the decision to use John Williams’ original themes in key segments of the film is definitely a huge welcome. If there was something missing from the fourth film onwards, it was Williams’ music.
The film was dark. And I’m not talking about the themes and the story; it’s just too dark to see anything properly. There is the possibility that some characters wouldn’t be recognized because they weren’t lighted properly. And this darkness would probably post some problems to those who saw it in 3D.
I also mentioned something earlier about the film’s inferior material. Most Harry Potter fans would probably agree that the series went downhill with Order of the Phoenix. I personally think that the books went back from the dead with Half-Blood Prince, then it started undergoing rigor-mortis with Deathly Hallows. Now I said earlier that while David Yates was able to work around the problematic portions of the books, he just couldn’t fix everything. Like the final book, the film was banking on the audiences’ sentimentality to the characters they have grown with and followed throughout the years.
This film, like the book, indiscriminately disposes of characters left and right, characters which could have been put to even better use than to just stand in the background, deliver lines, then just drop dead. Sure, we may remember their characters from previous films. But that’s just it: we remember their character then. What we receive now are characters which have stagnated, which have not been developed further. Instead, we get these additional characters which we’re supposed to empathize for, but due to the lack of decent character development, their deaths just comes off as irritating.
Now pardon me for sounding heartless, but this is one of the main problems I had with the final book, and unfortunately it kinda manifested here too. This bothers me so much because there, too, is a work which indiscriminately disposes of its characters like flies. Unlike this film, however, every second of character development was used exceedingly well that upon their death, we genuinely feel a loss. The film, also based on a book (a controversial book that is), was called Battle Royale
Oh, and for some minor griping, the much awaited kiss between Ron and Hermione kinda came out of nowhere. But then, so did from the book. Oh forget about it! :))
As you can see, the main problem was the source material itself. However we must give credit to David Yates for being able to work around the problem and give us a definitely satisfying conclusion to a series of films which began in 2001. For goodness sakes, if he is able to drive some poor fan to tears (sniff*sniff) with shots of those characters we love, this shows his skill in manipulating the audiences’ emotions. Additionally, the performances would have come as wooden and one-dimensional considering the problematic story. This is not the case with this film: the actors and actresses came off as believable (the ones that mattered anyway). That is a mark of a good director.
The spectacle was well done. The music was good. And the conclusion was satisfactory.
Yes, the good parts of the film definitely outweighs the bad, and for those disappointed with the first installment (ahem!) will find this film much better.
Good bye Harry.
4.5 stars out of 5
Now that that’s over, time to marathon The Lord of the Rings once more! ;P