Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt II (2011)
You know how I said in my review of Return of the King that it was the only movie I ever watched where I felt 100% was not enough? Well, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II has just proven that statement wrong, because I feel 100% is not enough to describe the brilliance of this film. This is the best one of the series and the only thing that was bad about it (besides a few very tiny details) was that it had to end. This was my most anticipated film of the year and it lived up to my expectations in every possible way. It wraps things up in a lovely way and pays homage to the films before it whilst still differing vastly from said films.
SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK OR SEEN THE MOVIE
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II picks up almost exactly where part I left off after we see Hogwarts shrouded in Dementors and Snape, the new Headmaster, looking down on a bunch of children marching in lines like, depending on one's perspective, Nazis or the people pushed down and beaten by the Nazis. My opinion is the latter. The film then cuts to Harry, Ron, and Hermione at the cottage from the end of part I which is revealed as Bill and Fleur's house. They talk to Griphook, a goblin, about getting them into Gringotts, the wizard bank. You see, in part I, Bellatrix Lestrange questioned Hermione about the Sword of Gryffindor which she believed was supposed to be in her vault at the bank. What Griphook knows though is that the sword is a fake. Harry has reason to believe as well that one of the Horcruxes that he has to destroy is in the vault.
In order to acquire said Horcrux, the gang has to pull off the impossible: break into Gringotts. They attempt to do so with the help of Griphook and an imperiused goblin. However, after they get into the vault, Griphook says that he would help them in but they would have to find their own way out. This would find them at the mercy of a fire breathing dragon, which they eventually use as an escape vehicle. The rest of the movie is spent at Hogwarts engaging in the epic final battle. Honestly, epic is an understatement, but we shall move on. But first, before the battle can begin, Harry figures out that there is a Horcrux at the castle and when they find it, they are one step closer to destroying Voldemort and ending all of this.
The battle at Hogwarts ensues and takes up the greater part of the movie. A lot of things happen during this particular sequence. Ron and Hermione finally confess their feelings for one another (about f**king time) and make out in the chamber of secrets after destroying a horcrux. This is the point where real shit is going down. Characters are dying, revelations are being made, and Harry realizes what he has to do. Voldemort and Harry have a confrontation in the Forbidden Forest and it appears that Voldemort has finally done the deed and killed Harry. However, we see Harry in some sort of limbo disguised as the train station with platform 9 and 3/4. He talks to Dumbledore, who tells him what I had been guessing since Chamber of Secrets.
He tells him that when Voldemort killed Harry's parents and failed to kill Harry, he had left a piece of his soul in Harry. In short, that was why Harry could talk to snakes and why he could see inside Voldemort's mind, and by 'killing' Harry, Voldemort screwed up and destroyed the one horcrux he never intended to make. This and the decapitation of Voldemort's snake in a moment of pure brilliance from Neville Longbottom makes Voldemort a mortal man and Harry does what was ten years in the making: he kills Voldemort. The film ends on a very sweet note, revealing that Harry and Ginny end up married as do Ron and Hermione and Harry sees his own sons onto the Hogwarts Express. I actually think it should leave room for more books. I hear J.K. Rowling may write more and I am very pleased to hear that.
I was absolutely amazed by this film and calling it epic would be a massive understatement. The Battle of Hogwarts was absolutely amazing and it takes up the majority of the movie. Every single moment of this movie was pure gold and yes, it obviously had much more action than the first. I loved Deathly Hallows part I and I hope to watch them both back to back some day, but this one is loads better and it is in my opinion, the best one of the series. The script was beautifully written by Steve Kloves once again and the musical score is the best yet for these films. It was suitably grand when it needed to be and suitably subdued when it needed to be. There were some moments of sheer beauty and I liked when the music quieted down at some points so I could focus on the sheer visceral impact of the destruction that was going on.
I have a feeling that now would be a good time to discuss the wartime allegories that exist in Deathly Hallows, both the book and the movies. There are some definite parallels to World War II in the story and one could pretty much call all of the events up until the events of Deathly Hallows pt I Voldemort's rise to power, which parallels with the rise to power of one Adolph Hitler. One could also call the Death Eaters the Gestapo or simply just fellow Nazis, and one could call the muggle-borns the Jews or general people who were persecuted by the Nazis. Even if you ignore the parallels, you can't deny that Voldemort and his Death Eaters are a fascist movement that make it their business to eradicate all those who aren't on their level.
What makes this film truly great though was its cast. The main three give great performances and Radcliffe gives his best performance yet of the movies. There are two specific actors/characters I would like to talk about and neither of them are any of the three leads. The first one I would like to talk about is Neville Longbottom, played to perfection by Matthew Lewis. We all talk about how Harry, Ron, and Hermione have grown up over the course of the series, but we all seem to forget about Neville. Neville has grown up over the course of the series from a little chump of a boy to a brave, noble and valiant young man and I could not be happier to see him have his moment in the sun. Every moment he was on screen was a moment of greatness and he is a great character. Matthew Lewis' performance was fantastic, probably his best of all the movies, or at least the movie where he was given the most to do.
The other character I would like to talk about is Snape. Severus Snape is easily the most complex character in the movie and we see it the most in this movie. Harry gets a glimpse into Snape's memories and what we see in there is absolutely beautiful. We see young Snape and young Lily (back when she was Lily Evans) meeting for the first time, we see them getting sorted into different houses at Hogwarts, we see Dumbledore and Snape talking about how Lily has to be protected because he thinks the prophecy is about Lily's son. He is proved right, and we see Snape in Godric's Hollow after James and Lily are murdered. Dumbledore said they would be protected, so Snape could have easily told Dumbledore to go screw himself and went to Voldemort. But he knew Lily would not have wanted that and even though he harbored intense resentment towards her husband, he did not harm Harry, despite his outward behaviour, because of the fact that he was the last living trace of her. In his last moments, we see where Snape's true loyalties lie and it is a truly beautiful series of moments that could possibly land Alan Rickman an Oscar nomination.
The rest of the performances are absolutely brilliant as well, giving minor characters like Mrs Weasley and Professor McGonagall time to shine. Mrs. Weasley said the line, and I was really glad she did, as that wasn't the sort of thing you can leave out. All the good and bad characters were played extremely well by their actors and Jason Isaacs continues an underrated performance from part I as a broken man who was ruined by jail. Ralph Fiennes continues a wonderful string of performances as Voldemort and we see him grow weaker, more desperate, and more dangerous. It seems to take a physical toll on him as well, as his head is getting veinier, his mouth is getting crueler, and his body is getting weaker. Bellatrix Lestrange was also played to perfection and I thought during a certain scene that Helena Bonham Carter did a fantastic job pretending to be Hermione.
The film has the best special effects of all the bunch and we see pretty much the entire castle in the battle. The amazing special effects did not make the movie suffer from CGI overload. This one uses the most CGI out of all the films but that is not at all a negative. The sets were beautifully designed and I could see this film getting a ton of tech nominations if not more than that (Alan Rickman, fingers crossed) come Oscar time. The art direction was brilliant and the sets were extremely well-designed. What I am about to say next not only applies to this film, but to the entire series. The costume design is absolutely amazing and props to whoever designed the clothing.
The one issue that I had with this film was the fact that Fred Weasley did not get the dignity of an onscreen death. Tonks and Lupin didn't either, but they didn't in the book, so that wasn't a problem. That, aside from other minute details, was the only problem and it isn't a big enough problem to ruin an amazing total picture. All in all, I could babble on forever about how amazing this film is, but that would only be belabouring these points and I would probably pass 2500 characters. I literally cannot run out of great things to say about this movie, and as a loyal fan of the series this was all I wanted and more from an ending to a beloved series. In short, if you haven't seen this and are a fan of the series, then get down to your local theatre as soon as possible. If you haven't gotten into it yet, then I strongly advise you to get on it now. This is most definitely my favourite film of the year thus far and one of my favourites of all time.
10/10 (although that's far from enough, it deserves way more)