Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)

After the surprising highs of the first “Deathly Hallows” film, come the surprising lows of the second. The film is an utter mess, somehow perfectly preserving the flaws of the final novel, while letting all its strengths slip through its fingers.

The point of the films proper climax is completely and utterly thrown away, not communicated in any way, shape, or form. Yet the rightfully-criticised epilogue is preserved for all its failings. It’s truly baffling. I’ve never been a fan of David Yates’ directions, but I could never deny that it was the work of a legitimate director, someone who knew what they were doing – I just disagreed with the choices he made. In this film, I can’t even understand his choices.

I’m truly baffled by them. How does one who made three passable entries in the series bungle the final one so devastatingly? I have no idea, but in my view, it’s what happened. I’m very happy for those who grew up with the series, the books and the films, and found this a powerful conclusion, but it was an utter mess for me. I enjoyed the last book at least, so I got closure from there, but for all its occasional faults, the film series is overall a great triumph, a feat that should have not have gone so smoothly – adapting seven books over so many years, with a large cast, and increasing story complexities and difficulties – but did so because of the skill, talent, and passion of those involved. Those qualities prevent this film from being a disaster, with Alan Rickman in particular doing some extremely compelling work, but the final product is a muffled half of a film.

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I complained that the third film didn’t explain all the story mechanics necessary to understood the film’s story, leaving only the book readers in the audience to properly understand the film, but this film takes it to new heights. The ending literally makes no sense if the film is taken on its own terms. I’m not one to obsess over plot, generally being much more interested in character and theme, but the egregiousness of Yates’ handling of the story truly shocked me.

The film maintains a lot of the strengths of the previous entries – the cast, the design, many of the scenes adapted more directly from the book – but too often is a confusing, muted mess. I give it two deathly hallows, and a pair of glasses.

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