Thursday, 28 July 2011

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (2011)

  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, to give it its full title, is the eighth and final Harry Potter film, closing the successful series of adaptations. The books, taken together, are huge and the films have always had difficulties with keeping up with every event and character. Director David Yates has always been rigidly faithful to the books to the detriment of his films. Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One all suffered from too much exposition. He was never able to slow down and allow them to breathe. And with the final film, that problem remains.
  The film is too faithful to the books. Its plotting and pacing is threadbare. The film is overstretched with superfluous scenes, many that should have been written out, but remain for fear of the wrath of the fans. Seven horcruxs may work in the books, but in the film, there should have been about three. Ron should have had less brothers and the whole of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One should have been cut down to ten minutes. By attempting to present everything in Harry Potter, Yates has lost sight of what is important in the series. As a result, every scene feels as pointless as the next, with the scenes that are supposed to be moving becoming as unnecessary as the overlong Gringotts sequence. And because the film is focussed on Harry and Voldemort’s convoluted story, no one else has anything to do. Ron and Hermione stand in the background looking worried and everyone else make the most of their one or two lines. A retrospective on Snape should have altered everything about the series, shocked and moved, but it is done so quickly that it’s over once you have noted its significance.  
  Because the filmmakers are so afraid of excising the fat, the overriding feeling from watching the film is that of a rush. Not because the film is exciting (it doesn’t really give itself time to be), but because the time constraints are just too numerous. There are quite a few deaths in the final film, but because Yates doesn’t have time to make you care, it becomes a box ticking exercise. This shot shows such-and-such is dead (tick), this shot shows Harry is sad (tick), lets move on.
  Obviously, the fans won’t mind as all they loved in the book has been stuffed in. But the films don’t stand up by themselves. There is very little emotion in any of it. It is a visualisation of a novel, not an adaptation. An adaptation suggests that the story is ‘adapted’ to film form. Films and novels play differently. They have different emotional registers and different styles of pacing. What works in novels doesn’t always work in films, and Yates should have known that there was a way to make a Harry Potter film that was faithful to the emotion of the book, rather than just simply staying faithful to its myriad plot. The film tackles a huge source but entirely misses the point of it.

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