Friday, July 22, 2011

Opening Scenes: The Final ‘Harry Potter’

By Chip Schrader
Movie Reviewer
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” begins with Voldemort casting a bolt of lightning into the night sky. The scene cuts to the ghostly black dementors hovering above Hogwarts, the once magical wonderland that has now become a brooding and ominous castle that resembles a giant lair in classic Gothic literature where evil lurks. Severus Snape, the new headmaster, looks down upon his school, the children march like stormtroopers inside. Harry is hiding out with his friends in a small hut; he gazes into a broken mirror that reflects his own face, and that of the deceased former headmaster, Albus Dumbledore.
All bets are off in this final installment of the Harry Potter legend. All of the roles are carried out by the same actors as the previous films, and they continue to embody their character with precision. The most notable newcomer is Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, played by Ciaran Hinds. While he plays a smaller role in this film, he is masterfully placed to fill in a few gaps of Dumbledore’s past, but the role is too brief to get a feel for the character.
The film, as a whole, takes broad sweeps of the original book, as to be expected. But, the film is best judged upon its own merit since cinema is at a great handicap compared to literature. In comparison to Part 1, Part 2, if possible, is even darker and takes place underground, and in narrow passages, while its predecessor was greatly shot in the vast countryside. The claustrophobia the director provides in the cinematography builds tension for the viewers as Harry must invade Bellatrix Lestranges’ vault at Gringot’s bank.
Dragons, giants, and assorted ghouls inhabit the land in this film, and boost its grandiosity without providing the cheesy CGI side effects that plague a Michael Bay film, i.e. “Transformers.”
Harry’s return to Hogwarts is marked with a chilling message from Voldemort. The old magic of Hogwarts, greatly missing from the previous installment, swarms in a mass of darkness and mayhem, and the expansive campus becomes the site for an epic battle between good and evil.
The shortcomings include the fact that Harry never seems in too much danger of Voldemort catching him. It just plays out as a scavenger hunt for Harry, Hermione and Ron, while the deatheaters wait idly by. The visions Harry gets of Voldemort provide glimpses of evil, but no real suspense. The necessity of Harry to face Voldemort, and the circumstance under which he must meet him do provide some white knuckle viewing three-quarters through the movie.
The bottom line: this movie is darker, creepier, and more intriguing than any of the previous films. It is even more entertaining than the first part. The cinematography is gorgeous, and uses shadows and perpetual darkness to not only convey a sense of foreboding, but makes it a beautiful movie to look at. If the movie could stand to be an hour longer, the loss of many characters shouldn’t have been glazed over, and the battle deserved greater detail as does the character development. Combined with the previous release, the character development and action will appear more balanced. Collectively, both parts are a nearly flawless grand slam. 4.5 out of 5.
Photo caption: (Courtesy movie poster of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”)