I've been anticipating this movie for quite some time - not because I'm particularly excited about the Harry Potter franchise (though it is a fascinating piece of work), but because it provides ultimate closure to the series (no matter what JK Rowling has to say about it). I had some expectations, based both on what I saw of the previous movie and what I read in the book. I don't think I need to address everything I feel about the movie, but I will do my best to give you a comprehensive overview of what I thought of the movie - both its strengths and weaknesses.
WARNING! If you have a particular allergic reaction to the phenomenon known as SPOILERS you should probably stop reading this until you've seen the movie - or read the book - because I'm not going to hold back on specific details. I will, however, provide a page break in case you're just glancing at the main page. Also, I apologize for the length of this. I'm sure you'll understand the need for an epic review.
To start with, I should establish what I based my expectations on: a combination of both the source material (the book), and the first part of Deathly Hallows (the movie). If you want the really short version, I was satisfied with the ending while also being slightly annoyed at other bits of it.
It seems odd that it took a second viewing of Part 1 for me to understand the true importance of the Deathly Hallows to this story. Yes, I've read the book, but I think some of the finer details slipped through my fingers while I was just trying to get to the end of the saga. I wanted to know what happened, and I picked up on some cursory details along the way that explained a few things, but ultimately I didn't fully understand the importance of the Deathly Hallows. This seems a rather silly thing to say, considering how big a deal they really are in relation to Harry's ultimate sacrifice.
Why do I bring that up? Because I don't feel that in either Part 1 or Part 2 the Deathly Hallows were properly fleshed out. This is unfortunate, because the Elder Wand, the Invisibility Cloak, and the Resurrection Stone should take prominence over the Horcruxes. Yes, it's important that Harry destroy the Horcruxes so he can defeat Voldemort; but since Harry is a Horcrux himself, Dumbledore knew that meant a personal sacrifice. I doubt that Dumbledore knew for certain that Harry would eventually get all of the Hallows (though he had a pretty well-based hunch, since he had 2/3), but he knew that the Hallows would give Harry his best chance to actually live once Voldemort was able to be fully destroyed.
Okay, where am I going with this? I'm straying from the movie review. To sum it up: to someone who had not read the book, the Deathly Hallows are fairly glossed over. It might not make sense (especially if this was their first introduction) why Harry died, and then came back to life. I feel that for a movie bearing "Deathly Hallows" in the title, the Horcruxes took too much screentime. I feel that it should have been re-organized slightly to give them the importance they deserve.
Uh, okay let's move on, because I don't think I'm getting my idea across very well. Let me assure you I enjoyed the film. I liked that Dumbledore's quest for power was largely ignored, but at the same time, I felt that the scene in Aberforth's house betrayed the details that were left out. Part of the reason it was in the book was to give Harry cause to doubt the man he trusted the most. I'll admit, he's given plenty of reasons in the movies: he's assigned a task with nothing to go on save a little bit of intel. He's given such a big, important job - but he has no idea how to perform it. Why wouldn't Dumbledore give him more information? Why must everything be a puzzle?
So, yes, that's powerful enough I suppose for him to have his big moment where he says he trusts Dumbledore. But isn't it more telling if - even when he learns of Dumbledore's transgressions, his quest for dominance in the wizarding realm, the death of his sister, etc. etc. - knowing all of that, AND his seemingly impossible job, he stands defiantly before Aberforth and declares his trust for Albus? Like I said, he has reason enough to doubt Dumbledore, but my issue is that we're given hints about his coloured past but it's never revealed. It's a tease that feels out of place in the context of the films.
And going back to Harry's sacrifice, it gives even THAT more credence if you pile up all the negatives on Dumbledore. Forget declaring his trust - Harry shows it when he finds out he's set up to die, and still goes through with it.
Okay, enough of that. This is more of an analysis than a review, and a poor analysis at that. How about the things I absolutely loved about the film?
- Neville's heroism
- Harry's big welcome back to Hogwart's by the DA (I think it's still the DA at that point, not the Order)
- All the callbacks to previous films - Cornish Pixies, for one
- Seeing film from the original movies come into play during The Prince's Tale
- Revisiting the Chamber of Secrets (did I ever mention how I love it when movies revist old sets? Yes, I'm looking at you, Attack of the Clones)
- Harry's confrontation of Snape in the Hall (with a caveat: it is slightly less impressive if you're unfamiliar with The Prince's Tale)
Some things I didn't like (which, unfortunately, get more words than the positives). First, the epilogue. I thought it was a cheesy end to the series in the book, but at least it fits in that context. The movies are a different universe than the book universe, and I felt the epilogue was grossly out of place. "THE END" should have come in the scene where Harry tosses the Elder Wand (I liked that he didn't do the whole 'repairing his old wand' schtick, by the way). Perfect, clean ending. But that would anger the die-hard fans, I suppose.
And also, which Weasley twin died? I was sure the twin that survived was the one missing an ear. In any case, my complaint here was that they both seemed to have both ears intact. Continuity is very important!
Those are my thoughts. Despite the negatives I expanded upon in great measure, I did enjoy the movie. I hope that when it gets released to DVD, they merge both movies instead of separating them.