After ten years of books and ten years of films, fourteen years in total, the series that has touched billions of lives finally comes to a close. I’m sure this is a sad day for all involved, but just remember that in 40 years or so someone will probably remake the films or make a miniseries out of them. Seriously though, I don’t know if there has been a movie that has had this much hype since The Phantom Menace came out, and I will admit it is difficult to isolate the film from my own personal feelings about the book and film series. If you have talked to me for any period of time about the HP films, you will know that my one word feeling on them is disappointment, and while Deathly Hallows Part 2 is one of the better movies in the series, it still has the same problems as many of the other films of the series.
However, before I get to what i didn’t like about the film, I thought i would start off positive and say that Deathly Hallows Part 2 was one of the best shot films in the series by far. The mood of the film is dark and that is well complimented by the blacks and grays emphasized throughout the film. Even the scenes that don’t take place have a noticeable lack of color that feels appropriate and helps to keep the tension throughout. There aren’t many scenes in the film that don’t seek to push us towards its conclusion, but the few shots of the military like discipline and structure at Snape’s Hogwarts were awesome. The sound of the marching coupled with the varying shades of black were a great combo and I applaud David Yates for finally discovering how to shot effective scenes in darkness (The Cave scene in Half-Blood Prince was very poorly lit). Also this film is the shortest in the series, which keeps the plot progressing and the suspense heavy. After all, by this part of the series the characters and settings are (or at least should be) already well-developed so we don’t need much filler.
Still, after leaving the theater I had the same empty feeling that lingered after watching most of the others in the series. Outside of Prisoner of Azkaban the films just weren’t able to capture the magic (figuratively) that the books had. They had amazing sets, Hogwarts was unbelievable throughout, and great actors but when push came to shove the big scenes just felt hollow. In particular the final battle between Harry and Voldemort was very anticlimactic. Seriously they had float away like burning paper. Really?!? They almost salvaged it with a very nice scene between Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the bridge, but then just like the book they through in that awful epilogue. It didn’t work in the book and was even worse here due to the terribly inconsistent aging make-up. The film and series ends up being about the friendship of the three main characters above all else, and the touching sequence between the three after all was finished would’ve made the perfect ending to the series that was terribly uneven.
I can forgive Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets for being merely good due to the age of the main actor’s and the fact that they were more of children’s books in the first place. Also the director had a lot of plot and background to fit into those films so it was inevitable that they would not feel as rich as the books. However, after a perfect director switch to Alfonso Cuaron, Prisoner of Azkaban, finally found that blend of plot and style to make the book come to life. That film is full of life from beginning to end, and gave a great blueprint on how to keep the series going strong. However, the next four films fell back into being almost entirely plot advancement (Book 4 and 5 are long so I understand), but to me the series never had any more sequences where the feeling was the same as reading the book. Sure I enjoyed them, but they just didn’t have the heart that I expected. I’m sure to most of you this must seem like nitpicking, but all I wanted from the Harry Potter movies was to be transformed back to how I felt when I stayed up all night to finish the latest book. It should have been easy, after all film is a more expressive art form, but instead I was treated to the words of the book in movie form, but with none of the emotion.
So in conclusion, I provide my ranking of the eight films in the Harry Potter series. I enjoyed all of them, but was very rarely satisfied.
Best: Prisoner of Azkaban
2nd: Deathly Hallows: Part 2
3A: Goblet of Fire
3B: Order of the Phoenix
5th: Chamber of Secrets
6th: Deathly Hallows: Part 1
7th: Sorcerer’s Stone
8th: Half Blood Prince
Up Next: Film Noir meets High School in the 2005 film Brick.