‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’, the final installment of the most profitable film series in history, is not only the preeminent work of the saga, but it is one of the top ten films I have seen so far in 2011. The film is so well crafted I had to see it twice. And for those who think I am an obsessed zealot, my statement comes from a critic who has never read any – not one – of the tomes. I am clearly not a ‘pothead’, as hardcore Potter fans are referred to. You don’t have to be a fan of the books to appreciate it, it stands alone as a fantastic and entertaining film that one can understand and enjoy. This is not a good movie, this is a great movie and great movies need to be recognized for their artistry come award season. ‘The Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ should be considered as a Best Picture contender come the Oscars next year and should clearly score nods for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects and Best Adapted Screenplay. In the same way ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ won the top prize in 2004, ‘Potter 8’ should go out with a bang.
‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ is an action drama that is entertaining, intriguing and emotionally transfixing. Part 2 picks up where Part one’s quasi-epic-finale ends with Voldemort obtaining the Elder’s Wand from the coffin of Dumbledore. Potter needs to find three more horcruxes to kill his archenemy, but before he does that, our boy wizard will need the help of his friends, Hermione and Ron, to get back to Hogwarts and face old friends that are now traitors and discover the truth that will change his life forever. However, things won’t be easy, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war and many loved friends die. It is Harry Potter who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as it all ends in a climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort for the future of Hogwarts and ultimately the world.
Throughout the last decade, beginning with director Christopher Columbus, these installments have at one point or another been nominated for many Oscars, particularly in the technical field. But none of them never have deserved the best film prize – until now. It is hard for movies with great commercial success to have a place amongst the best come award season, but that mentality is slowly changing. For example, Avatar recently did it and it was in 3D. So it can be done, but for the purposes of this argument, I’ll limit myself to Peter Jackson’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy as source material. The parallels between the ‘Harry Potter’ series and Jackson’s three epic offerings have gone on for many years amongst connoisseurs. They are both considered Hollywood blockbuster films with gargantuan production budgets, they rely heavily on visual effects to bring to life their stories, their genres are also the same – action, drama, epic fantasies – and even the narratives stand on themes of underdog characters predestined to fight the ultimate battle of good versus evil. So if LOTR can win Best Picture, why can’t ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’? The premise was as exhilarating and gripping as I can remember any movie this year, the special effects were once again dazzling, the soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech) set off chills, the script by Steve Kloves was an emotional and moving coaster ride, the direction of David Yates was managed with great skill, and even though no one actor will be nominated for an Oscar for their work, neither were the ones for ‘Lord of the Rings’, except Ian Mckellen, once. The year is young and we must await for the fall movies to be released in order to judge Potter’s sustainability amongst its competition, nevertheless, it must be part of the conversation.
Why it took the producers of the Potter series 8 movies to get the mix right might be attributed to these sequels not providing real conclusions which take a toll on a persons tolerance. You can also argue that most of the previous seven films were slow paced and, dare I say, boring. However, all the ingredients have come to fruition on this final chapter including the acting skills of the beloved protagonists. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have come a long way since being pre-adolescents and they deliver wonderful and demonstrative performances that will manage to extract a tear or two from more than one spectator or fan.
I had the privilege of seeing the movie at the New York red carpet premiere and then again the next day at the Lowes Lincoln Square IMAX theater (which holds the largest IMAX screen in the world after Australia). Both were presented in 3D, but the 3D visuals were modest at best in the standard 3D screening during the premiere. Much of it probably had to do with the movie being converted to 3D in post-production as opposed to being shot in 3D. This ‘backdoor’ process usually provides a dull and dim experience too many who see it, but that wasn’t the case in the IMAX theater. The colors were so much more pristine and the 3D conversion was barely felt. It looked impressive. So if you’re looking to see it in 3D, make sure you see it in an IMAX screen, preferably the one in the aforementioned theater.
If ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ is truly the last we will ever see of the cast and its crew then it was an unforgettable farewell to all of those who have stood by them throughout all these years. When we look back 10-20 years from now, hopefully we can all look admirably at this franchise with awe, and in particular, highlight this last film as the best of the series, and perhaps, one of the best films of 2011.