With a lot to live up to, (think Return of the King, Dark Knight, etc.), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, does not, in fact, live up to its far superior predecessors. It does, however, bring a grand ending to the series while incorporating some humorous and heart-breaking moments. We see the best acting squeezed out of the main characters as well as some surprising nuggets of humor and strength from unsuspecting characters, such as Mrs. Malfoy (Helen McCroy), Mrs. Weasley (Julie Walters), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), and Professor McGonagal (Maggie Smith).
This movie was pretty good. It had some great moments, but overall, it was just pretty good. Big moments that could have been built up better were rushed through. The huge battle scene at the end lost part of its excitement when Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) jump off the cliff and start flying around with their hands around each other’s faces. What was the point of this? The book certainly didn’t write the end happening this way.
Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson), the two lead supporting actors in the film, played just that in this film: supporting roles. So supporting, in fact, that their kiss was the only significant and enjoyable moment that either actor had on screen. Professor McGonagal and Neville stole scenes with witty dialogue and heroic actions, while Harry’s two best friends seemed to just fade into the background. In Ebert’s review, he mentioned how the adult actors also owned the scenes. Voldemort was the ultimate bad guy, played with such an enjoyable evilness, that you almost wanted to laugh a couple times.
As the protagonist of the series, Daniel Radcliffe might have given his best performance. After he puts his face into the pensieve and sees Snape’s (Alan Rickman) memories, he learns for the first time that he was born to die. This comes as a hideous shock to both him and the audience. In the book, he doesn’t see Ron and Hermione for a last time, because he realizes he might not be able to go through with dying (by Voldemort) if he sees one of them. Instead, he ends up running into Neville and makes Neville promise him to kill the snake, the last horcrux, which would inevitably kill Voldemort. Instead, in the movie, Harry shares a last moment with Hermione and Ron that is rushed through, and then walks to his death while they stand still with jaws dropped. I can’t help but think that this scene could have been much more powerful had the screenwriter/adapter stuck to the true story.
Another scene that lost its power due to the adapted story is when Harry opens the snitch and the Resurrection Stone appears. There, he meets the deathly shadows of his father (Adrian Rawlins), mother (Geraldine Sommerville), Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), and Professor Lupin (David Thewlis). This is a powerful scene, but it’s so rushed through, that it’s immediately forgotten when Harry walks further into the Forbidden Forest. The book has these dead relatives walking with him through the Forbidden Forest, right up to Voldemort and his army, right before Harry dies. J. K. Rowling’s writing dismissed here is another huge disappointment.
But possibly the biggest disappointment of this film is the flurry in which Snape’s character is killed and forgotten. Although Snape does die, his moment is quickly lost to move onto the next. Alan Rickman gives his best performance, as short as it may be, his last words being to Harry: “You have your mother’s eyes.” When Harry views Snape’s memories through the pensieve, we see the past that closes many holes that the series has created since we started watching the films. Why has Snape bullied Harry for so long? Why does Snape seem to hate Harry? Why did Snape kill Dumbledore? These questions are answered, and more is revealed. Unfortunately, Snape’s memories last only a short while. We, as viewers, lose perspective despite the huge demons that have been pulled out of the closet. We have mixed feelings on Snape now, but no time to focus on them. Snape’s death was so rushed through, that we, the audience, missed out on a grieving opportunity. In the past, Cedric, Sirius Black, Dumbledore, and Dobby have passed away. Huge moments were given to these characters; after all, each of their deaths served as a climax to the films in which they died. Fred (James Phelps), one of the twins and Professor Lupin pass, yet we hardly realize how sad this is because we must keep pushing forward with the film’s agenda.
The end bears the most touching scene, the adulthood of the three main characters. Nineteen years later, we see an adult Harry and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) ushering their kids to platform 9 3/4. Harry shares a moment with his son, Albus Severus Potter. He reminds him that he is named after one of the best wizards he knows – Severus. This special tidbit is included in a perfectly subtle, yet honorable way. There’s just a slight moment where we catch an adult Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), where we conclude that the relationship between he and Harry is now friendly. Last, we see married couple Ron and Hermione with their kids. The ending scene pictures Ron, Hermione, and Harry standing there, grown up and happy. It’s a moment where you can do nothing else but smile. It serves as a grand, but not over-the-top end to the amazing franchise.