On one hand, this final film is far better than the disappointing book upon which it is based and it redeems its predecessor. Nobody will claim that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II will evoke the same emotions as classic series like Star Wars but a late-night screening at the Varsity Cinemas ended amicably, without any audience member feeling compelled to vandalize the theatre in rage or inspired by fierce apathy to set the screen ablaze. The film does its job — no more, no less.
The hero mythology resolves itself adequately. Harry must face his past, his fears and finally Lord Voldemort before he can end his personal journey. In the end, Voldemort falls victim to his own arrogance and his lack of belief in human emotions such as love. Like Emperor Palpatine, he was defeated by the underdog like all classic villains have been during the past century of Hollywood adventures. There really is no suspense as the film is more a series of events loosely connected by tenuous plot threads.
It’s not precisely clear exactly how Harry wins but director David Yates knows that it’s best not to think too much about it. Unlike author J.K. Rowling, Yates realizes that the audience entered the theatre with a certain willing suspension of disbelief and will except most magical and mystical happenings so long as it does not require much critical thinking. Yates tells viewers to “accept it and move on” whereas Rowling attempted to create a logical explanation out of pure irrationality.
When the first book was published, it was evident that Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy were temporary antagonists for the juvenile Harry until his arch-villain could be revealed. The cruel teacher and arrogant classmate gradually faded into the background as Harry progressed through Hogwarts. HP 7.2 is supposed to be the chapter when they reveal their true nature and come to terms with Harry but the film does not devote sufficient time to this character development.
This is unfortunate because Snape and Malfoy play an integral role in helping Harry overcome the evil Voldemort. While escaping the Room of Requirement- paralleling how his father James saved Snape when they were students – Harry’s morals do not allow him to leave Malfoy behind, an action for which he is eventually rewarded for, although we never see how his rival feels about this turn of events. Seven books of Snape pushing Harry to his limits are thrown to the wayside as Alan Rickman merely passes through the film.
To resolve the lingering tension from previous films and explore the intricate character, Snape deserved to be part of the climax. At least Captain Neda received a classic one-liner (“Apology accepted…”) as he was summarily dismissed by Darth Vader. Even Hans in Die Hard received a more dignified send-off. The unsatisfying ending was inevitable as the novel precluded a role which could have bestowed a Best Supporting Actor Award upon Rickman. Although none of the excellent supporting cast is featured in great detail, Maggie Smith displayed flashes of her theatrical brilliance when she appeared on-screen.
All things considered, the two hours and ten minutes flew by. The 3-D technology enhanced the action sequences, especially those around Hogwarts without overwhelming the plot. The dreary cinematography enhanced the mood of the film. HP 7.2 is typical of the rest of the franchise: visually appealing and appropriately scored, it is easy to become enveloped by the world created by Rowling. So much happens during the film and there is little time to reflect but it is still easy to follow. The film is best considered as part of a larger process instead of a final outcome. The work to be admired is the fictional Harry Potter universe itself. ***