Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 – Review

It all ends. It all ended. And so did my heart.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 also known as the movie that tore my heart and soul into oblivion. Never, ever have I been inside a movie theatre and brought this close to tears. The hell with it, I CRIED. And it happened so many times. If you thought goosebumps was the criteria for a good scene, then mix those goosebumps with emotional upheaval, coupled with your hands almost shaking and this is Deathly Hallows part 2 in its entirety.

Harry, Ron and Hermione are still on the pursuit to collect and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. They believe the next one is hidden away in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault in Gringotts, the wizarding bank. But going into the bank is near impossible – unless you know a goblin who worked there, which they do. And so a deal is stricken. At Gringotts, they are discovered to be impostors. Hearts will race as they try to escape with the horcrux and as Harry soon finds out the next one is hidden inside Hogwarts and it’s something that belongs to another founder of the school.
And it is to Hogwarts that he goes. But Hogwarts has changed. Snape is the new headmaster. The Carrow brothers are forcing students to practice the cruciatus curse (torture) on first year students.
But there are many things that Harry doesn’t know, the ultimate secret being one that revolves around his every being. Things are never as it seems. People will show their true colors and they will come out as triumphant even after years and years of hatred.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is such a beautiful movie that you cannot move your eye off the screen. Checking the time? Dream on, my friend. Dream on. The moment the movie starts, picking up exactly where Part 1 left off, you are mesmerized. It starts abruptly and takes you right into the story. And it doesn’t let you go. It grabs at you with all the force in the world and drags you everywhere the movie goes and you hopelessly go with it like a rag doll.

Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have done the impossible here. They are possibly the only set of actors that you have seen grow up on the big screen and as the actors grew up on a personal level, they added their maturity to their characters. It’s very fascinating to watch them interact. And in Part 2, they bring out the big guns. Their acting is relentless, captivating and charming as it should be now that they have mastered the characters they’re playing. You cannot imagine other actors portraying Harry and Ron or another actress to portray Hermione. It simply doesn’t make sense. And this trio simply proves this beyond doubt.

Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith as Snape and Professor McGonagall respectively gave their all in this movie. You cannot help but be on the edge of your seat whenever any of these two actors are doing their thing. Rickman has a part of the movie entirely dedicated to his character’s personal story. It is also one of my favorite parts of the book. The Prince’s Tale is transferred so magnificently on screen that it WILL bring you to tears. Many times at that, in the space of about five minutes. If you don’t feel absolutely overwhelmed at one point in that sequent of memories, then you are not human. There, I said it.
Professor McGonagall takes a stand – several, actually – in Deathly Hallows as well. She stands up for Harry and when she does, the whole theatre will explode in applause. Maggie Smith fortifying Hogwarts and then cracking a joke to lighten up the mood… Just the way I like it. You cannot but share the pain in Smith’s eyes as she sees her beloved school crumbling around her, as she sees all the work that they’ve done go to waste… absolutely stunning.

So Hogwarts is now fortified. They have one hour before Voldemort’s powers attack. And what better actor to portray this generation’s most bad-ass villain than Ralph Fiennes. People, just give him the Oscar for best supporting actor already. There will be no one more worthy. Him or Alan Rickman.
Ralph Fiennes gives his character an extra dimension in this movie now that he has the room to spread his wings so to speak, seeing as he’s one of the movie’s main pillars. Lord Voldemort is all evil. But in this movie, another side of him shows up: anguish and misery. And yet, there’s this subtlety to the nuances of the portrayal that make up the overall result to be very epic, indeed.

Michael Gambon has one scene in the movie as Albus Dumbledore and to say that his part sticks to the book would be an understatement. They uttered my favorite line. I was on cloud nine. “Of course it’s happening inside your head… but why should it mean it’s not real?” It’s also my twitter bio! And this is truly the world that this movie and the books have created. It is imaginary but it feels so real that you just don’t care that it’s all in your head. Shattering the lines between reality and imaginary is not just for eccentric, high or mentally disturbed people. For two hours, this movie will get you to strut those boundaries as well.

Steve Kloves is the movie’s screenwriter. And what can one say about Steve Kloves and give him enough credit. He captured the movie’s essence perfectly. He presented J.K. Rowling’s work in such a brilliant way that even the slight deviations from the book (and they are very few) do not even matter anymore. He portrays the gravity of the situation to the letter: the deaths, the destruction, the revelations, the build-up…. His version of the story is so well done that it would be incredible not to see an Oscar nod (and a win!) for him in the Screenplay category. He added his touch while keeping Rowling’s magic. Some of the lines from the book are transferred to the movie as they are and for someone who has read the book over and over again, I was ecstatic to hear them on screen. “Look… at…me.” Enough said.

Director David Yates has helmed the last four Potter movies and while I had my doubts about him at first (Order of the Phoenix was not exactly great), he more than surpassed my wildest expectations in this. The pace he sets for the movie never dies down. It keeps on building up and up like a beautiful orchestral crescendo. He guides his actors and actresses with confidence. He’s working with a marvelous script based on a terrific book. And he has the green light to give it all out. What do you expect from a very talented director with those options? Something not less than magical.

And throughout the movie, you listen to this satisfyingly rich and haunting score by French composer Alexandre Desplat, who also composed the score for the first part. As the score opens with the epic “Lily’s Theme,” you are captivated by the music on top of the visuals. The score doesn’t let down as well. It fuses itself into the movie perfectly and grows as the characters advance with the plot. It incorporates elements from all previous Harry Potter scores, giving homage to all previous composers. And what better way to end this than to salute those who worked on the series before you?

On top of all that, the movie is such a nice sight to see that it’s ridiculous at times how perfect the cinematography, the make-up and all other technical aspects are. They are so well-done that they are simply the cherry on top of this marvelous cake. Summer blockbusters usually rely on these elements as their forte. Not with this movie. While any other movie would dream to have this quality on it, Deathly Hallows Part 2 has these coming with the territory of being the movie that it is.

Critics and fans alike are raving about this. I had posted earlier about the early reviews the movie was getting and they set my expectations so high that I was afraid the movie would not meet them. It not only met them, it shattered them and rendered them useless dust. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is magical, magnificent, elegant, pure, heart-breaking, eye-popping, insanely brilliant, enchantingly captivating and sensationally grandiose. It is one of the best – if not THE best – cinematic experience you could hope for. It’s a perfect movie, if there ever was such a thing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 provides you with a sense of catharsis as it ends. It lets your senses go. It lowers your inhibitions more than alcohol. You cannot help but see your hands automatically clap at some points in the movie. You shout in desperation without even controlling your voice and you root for your characters like they’re really in front of you. Tears flow down your face without any power of you to stop them. There isn’t any better way to end the epic series that was Harry Potter. If only it weren’t ending…

I was going to start putting a grade to movies that I review, based on requests. So let me attempt this now:

13/10

Advertisements

Harry Potter and I

It all started in July 2000 for me. I was a carefree ten year old who thought reading was more into the realms of punishment. So it was with carelessness that I listened to a conversation about some books called Harry Potter by some British woman between my dad and his brother.

My American cousin, Kristen, was reading the fourth book in the series at the time. Her dad suggested she’d give the books to me but we both vehemently refused: I because the 4th book was bigger than a dictionary and her because these were her books.

Flash forward a whole year and it’s December 2001, soon after the release of the first movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone, the original title). My aunt takes my brothers, cousins and I to the movies to watch it and I get mesmerized. I thought the movie was enchanting, the story was captivating. And for a 12 year old, the idea that a movie like that actually had sequels was something that was just awesome. There’s actually a continuation to the story!

Then Harry Potter went into the back of my mind for the following six months. In June 2002, my uncle arrived from the U.S. with a paperback version of the first 3 books. So even though I still dreaded the idea of reading, I found myself enthralled with the first book, of which I had already watched the movie. While my friends were doing their oral final exams back in 7th grade, I was busy reading in class. Soon enough, I started the second book, with a sense of pride that I was now ahead of the movies. I took a hiatus in the middle of the second book before finishing the whole thing in one day on July 19th, 2002. I remember the day because it was the night before St. Elias’ day and my mom was shouting at me, holding the book while sitting on the swing on our front porch. The third book followed soon after. I finished reading Prisoner of Azkaban a few days later. I remember I was sitting kneeling by the bed when it was done. Come end of July, I was done with all Harry Potter books that I had in my possession.

And now I wanted more. But I waited a few months before starting the fourth book. Christmas break 2002. My best friend at the time, Celine, gave me a French copy of her Goblet of Fire book and even though I hated reading French novels, Harry Potter’s French version managed to captivate me as well. On Christmas eve, my uncle got me a bunch of gifts, one of which was the English version of Goblet of Fire. I picked up with that where I had arrived in the French version and as my good friend Paul Gadalla, a great person who started reading the Harry Potter books because of me, said: “the ending of this book was insane!” and he’s a 25 year old Political Science major. Where does that leave a poor 13 year old’s heart?

In late January 2003, my uncle informed me that the upcoming fifth book would be released on June 21st. And so my first wait with everyone who had caught up with the books started. I started to discover fan sites where people shared their ideas and I was fascinated with those ideas. I discovered that the title was Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix and I saw a blue cover with floating candles that gave me no idea whatsoever about the content.

Leading up to the book’s release, Time magazine did a J.K. Rowling expose about her life prior to Harry Potter and her preparations for the upcoming book release. My copy of the magazine is worn out from the many times that I read that article. But I still have it.

And so Order of the Phoenix was released. It was over 800 pages, with more than a quarter of a million words. The book is not many people’s favorite but I really like it. It represented a sense of Harry growing up to assume his fifteen year old self, his first kiss and above all, revelations about his past that were not known before.

And then my two year wait for Half-Blood Prince, book 6, started. Apparently, JK Rowling does these massive book launch interviews where she discusses many details with fans without giving too much away. So I had those details printed to make sense of what awaited me. To say I was off mark again would be an understatement. After all, guessing with things regarding Harry Potter is not a very easy thing to accomplish. The sixth book was released and I got it on launch day, getting a free mug with it as well. I finished it in two days and it left me devastated that I had two wait two years before the story ends. It was also the most grim part of the tale so far. It was a book about death, souls, memories and the importance of friends in times of darkness. But did I want it to end? I sure did. I hated not being in the know.

J.K. Rowling had revealed that books sixth and seven would have one story arc but be two different books. Everyone I knew was on their toes for the final book. The amount of anticipation was insane. It was probably the most securely kept book ever. Massive prints were prepared for the huge opening day expectations. And to say those expectations were met would be a vast understatement. It sold over 11 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release on July 21, 2007 in the U.S. alone.

The final book was relentless. It had no dull moments. It was mesmerizing, captivating. It played with your emotions like a slinky and you loved it for that. Anyone who asks me what’s your favorite book would get this answer from me: Deathly Hallows. Sure, it’s not philosophy or some immensely mature book that you expect a 21 year old to like. Some would say that it’s mentally degrading of me to say that is my favorite book. But what is the definition of favorite? It’s the book that 4 years later, while your little brother is reading and asking you questions, still gives you goosebumps when you remember specific passages from it. It’s the book that you can read over and over again and go on the same roller coaster ride you jumped on the first time you read it. And it’s such a gripping book that it took me one day to finish it. It was done by 6 am on July 22nd, 2007. Yes, I only got a few hours of sleep.

As I’m writing this, I’m looking at my little brother Joseph finishing the Harry Potter books with the final pages of Deathly Hallow‘s epilogue remaining, a few hours before the Lebanese premiere of the final Harry Potter movie.
It makes me proud to see my brother read all the books and could think about reading other books subsequently, because Harry Potter has shown him the joy of reading.
It also makes me proud that the movie we are going to watch tomorrow has such rave reviews that top critics are calling it “wonderful, epic and grand.”

You see, our stories with Harry Potter are very much alike and yet very different. we’ve all started reading differently and we’ve all obsessed over the books to varying degrees but we’ve all entered this magical world and never wanted to leave. It’s not that our reality was bad, it’s just that the world of J.K. Rowling’s imagination is so pure and vast and beautiful that you feel like being there, even as a “muggle”, doesn’t mean you’re intruding. And it doesn’t even make you different. After all, the last four Harry Potter books each set the record for most books sold in 24 hours, with each new book breaking the record set by the previous one, a testament of the people who wanted to escape to that world as soon as its doors opened anew.

Upon finishing the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling was asked: “how do you want to be remembered?”
Her answer is something that I keep in my head till this day because it should be a life mantra for many. She said: “As someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.”

And it’s precisely that which is the biggest lesson that the Harry Potter series presented to us through its flawed and vulnerable hero: a story about the importance of aiming high in life and not being afraid to fall. J.K. Rowling was on welfare before the idea of the books popped into her head almost complete while waiting for a train.
While I know that creativity is defined as divergent thinking that, when simmering, allows you to come up with novel ideas, her personal struggle and story is also a testament that you can pull through the hardships of life.

At 10:00 pm, later today, I would have finished watching the final Harry Potter movie. The tagline for the movie is “It All Ends.”
For us, that tagline has a double meaning. You might say that it also signals your childhood ending. But whenever you look at the Harry Potter books, you can’t help but remember the days when you were reading them. Sweet memories and reminiscing… Either way, your childhood lies within you. But like Harry you have to eventually grow up and keep those memories with you. Just look at this post and the amount of memories in it. Who knew I remembered the exact date I finished Chamber of Secrets or in what body position I finished reading Prisoner of Azkaban or how I had read of Goblet of Fire or the Time magazine with the J.K. Rowling article?

They say we’re the Facebook generation. I beg to differ. We are the Harry Potter generation because these books will be what our grandchildren’s children will remember our years by. Until then, “all was well.” Excuse me as I go put my Harry Potter book that my brother just finished in its proper place in the bookcase.

Early Reviews For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

The Harry Potter series is concluded with the last installment in its movie adaptation set to be released in less than a week’s time and with it a great chapter in the lives of many comes to a conclusion. And if you haven’t done so already, check out 13 Reasons to Love Harry Potter.

For those of us who can’t handle any sort of wait when it comes to Harry Potter, we resort to reading movie reviews before we actually get to see the movie. So I’ve decided to make a spoiler-free compilation of what top critics have said about the new movie so far, soon after its premiere a few hours ago in London.

Reuters write that the final movie is a statistical anomaly in the Harry Potter series since it brings its A-game from start to finish. They say if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you will come out of the movie with a sense of catharsis and a slightly damp handkerchief. They wrote that the movie’s running time of about 130 minutes was too condensed to fit everything that it felt sort of rushed and that this was the only flaw in the movie. The actors and actresses brought their game on and screenwriter Steve Kloves wrote a screenplay that doesn’t dwell on explaining to newcomers as much as it delivers to veterans.

Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter’s review can be summarized by: “An outstanding capper to the most lucrative film franchise of all time.” He commended the series for giving viewers an astonishing, gripping and exhilarating ending. He spoke about Steve Kloves’ very well-done screenplay as well as the eye-popping visual effects that don’t even need 3D to grab you. The performances of all the actors are actresses was described to be top-notch, saying that the movies have always been spot on with the casting department, hiring the best of the best British actors and actresses. Even the trio Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson get to spread their wings in this one and shine.

Variety’s Justin Chang writes in his review that the end surges ahead with urgency, spell-binding spectacles and overwhelming emotions. At 131 minutes, this is the shortest movie of the series. Why the rush, he asks, since such an ending deserved a longer running time for more catharsis. He expects this installment to garner in more revenue than the series’ most lucrative first movie. He complemented director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves for their work in making this movie better than the first part, making for a more exciting cinematic experience. He says the movie builds up to a great moment which he thinks fails since it doesn’t really capture the magic in Rowling’s universe. But he says that everything is taken to an immaculate standard in the movie, making for a highly satisfying conclusion.

Peter Shaw from The Guardian writes that the Potter saga could have hardly ended on a better note. Saying that previous movies had begun to sag, this final piece brings back the magic to the Potter legend. He says it’s even superior to T.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return Of The King. The spectacle is grand, marvelous and dramatically satisfying, justifying the two-movie split. He says he was on the verge of tears in many moments of the movie to show the immense amount of emotions that this finale held. He said the movie reminded him of the thrill he had watching the first movie 10 years ago.

Grant Rollings from The Sun described the movie as too much to bear. In the good sense that is. When their preview ended, people were wailing in the theatre for the end of such an era. He says that our favorite boy wizard gets the send off he deserves and in glorious 3D to top off the magic. He describes the movie as epic, dizzying and thrilling, even before the movie reaches its long-awaited climax. He says the movie makes brought everything out for this final film but said Daniel Radcliffe could have brought his game up. He concludes his review with “a terrific movie and a great British success story.”

The Dailymail’s Baz Bamigboye found the final installment in the Harry Potter franchise to be more than satisfying. He found it to be thrilling. He watched the movie with child-like wonder, taken away by how much the actors and actresses (especially the trio) grew up over the course of the eight movies. He counted over 1132 names in the ending credit. He says they’re probably out of a job now. But “what a way to go.”

The Telegraph commended director David Yates on making the movie a terrifying spectacle where the central trio does not disappoint and nor do any of the other actors and actresses of the movie. They even believe that screenwriter Steve Kloves fine tunes some of what they described deficiencies of the final book, to grasp the epic feeling instilled in the movie. They say this is “monumental cinema awash with gorgeous tones, and carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it. This is not an end. How could it be?”

And since I’ve said over and over again that this movie is looking to be a serious Oscar contender, Emmanuel Levy shared my view in his review, in which he gave the movie a grade of A-. He wrote: the finale does justice to the whole series. And even though Academy Award members are known for their short memory, this movie should be in serious consideration for a multitude of academy awards such as best screenplay for Steve Kloves, best director for David Yates, best supporting actor for Ralph Fiennes in his chills-inducing performance of Lord Voldemort and best picture, as well as a nomination in every technical category.

I’ll be watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in an early Lebanese screening on July 13th and I will review it immediately afterwards. When will you catch this brilliance on screen? It will not disappoint you. After all, how many movies with a unanimous critical approval fail to match their hype? This will not happen with Harry Potter.

And for good measure, watch the trio along with J.K. Rowling saying goodbye to the series at the London Movie Premiere.

13 Reasons To Love Harry Potter

With less than six days to the release of the last Harry Potter movie, I figured it’d be nice to write a list of reasons of why millions and millions around the globe love the books that made J.K. Rowling a billionaire and the Harry Potter movies the most successful movie series in history, as well as the fastest selling books ever.

1 – We all grew up with Harry. Most readers of the book jumped on the bandwagon long before the last book was released. We all waited impatiently for each installment to be released and we’ve all let our imaginations run wild with the possibilities that Harry Potter presented.

2 – Harry Potter is not your typical hero. Unlike action movies where the hero would be inundated with gunfire and never get shot, Harry is vulnerable. He is weak. He is flawed. He is human. You can relate to him. And if Harry Potter rubs you the wrong way, you have the ginger Ron Weasley or the bookworm Hermione Granger to keep you company. Or the everwise Albus Dumbledore. The books present you with a plethora of characters with whom you can relate – at least a part of you does.

3 – They might be fiction and fantasy but the books are gut-wrenchingly real. How many of us were teased because we got high grades in school? *raises hand* How many of us were ridiculed for not going with the flow? How many of us had our voices muted but refused to remain quiet? The basis of the Harry Potter books might be a fantasy. But the crux of them is a story about love, compassion, humility, family and courage.

4 – Once you start reading the books, you cannot put them down. There’s something about J.K. Rowling’s style that just captivates you. It’s eloquent, verbose and at the same time succinct. It captures the moment perfectly and immerses you in the lines on the page you’re reading.

5 – Harry Potter is a world by itself. How many times have you craved butterbeer or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, as long as that flavor is not anything wax-related? How many times have you wondered if there’s really something as platform 9 and 3/4 in Kings Cross Station? How many times did you even wonder if there’s something named Diagon Alley? No, I’m not being delusional. When you read the books, the world in which the story is set captivates you. For the time you’re reading, you’re taken away from dismal realities to a place where, even when it’s at war, is a better alternative.

6 – Harry Potter makes you appreciate your mom. Harry’s mom died for him. Ron’s mother would do anything to keep her family together. And even to some extent, Narcissa Malfoy can be added to that list. And in a world where the value of family is dying down, such mothers serve as a role model to everyone and they let you know the value of the person you call mom. It could be the pain that J.K. Rowling felt when her mother passed away but every mother figure in the books is made perfect.

7 – The books are genius. How many times did you wonder while reading them how J.K. Rowling came up with the idea behind them? It all started with a train running late. At least that’s how the story of the books’ creation goes. But really, the sheer amount of creativity behind the books is almost unmatched.

8 – When you immerse yourself in the Harry Potter books, you become part of a kick ass fanbase known as Potterheads. They are relentless. They defend the books they love and can take hits without flinching. Some of them are border maniacs but the norm is an awesome crowd. They also make lots of fun of the Twilight books and let’s admit it, compared to this, those books are useless.

9 – Reading (as in the act itself) the Harry Potter books instilled the joy of doing so in millions. Who would have thought buying an 800 pages book would be the only thing a teenager would think about day and night until they set hands on the book? The books instilled in everyone the pleasure of reading by offering complexity, relateability and mystery.

10 – The books do not shy away from showing the hard faces of life. Racism is present. Hate is also widely expressed. Some parts are violent and other parts are just chilling. The world of Harry Potter is not just some world where everything is happy. It’s a place where things can go wrong and when they do, it’s on a massive scale. The conflicts are not easily solved. Sure, it’s fiction but at least not everything works out for the best all the time. You lose some of the people you love. You get betrayed. But you can always recover.

11 – J.K. Rowling maintained the folklore aspect of the fantasy elements in the novels. She did not change how a werewolf transforms (or when it does so), how a unicorn looks like or what a centaur is. Which gives the Harry Potter series a sense of authenticity in the genre it belongs to.

12 – Some people think loving Harry is a vice. Well, we tell them it’s a virtue. If there’s anything redeeming about a person, it would be them reading this series. You cannot read such books and be a bad person in life. And when one day they stand at the Pearly Gates and St. Peter calls their names, it would be because reading Harry Potter was one of the most redeeming quality of their lives. Yes, I’m exaggerating but there you go.

13 – A seventh of the dedication of the last book was made to you. How could you not love that?

For the sake of continuity (although I do not agree with his loathing of The Order of the Phoenix), check out this post by my friend Gino Raidy: As The Harry Potter Era Ends, So Does My Childhood.