July 14, 2011


Splitting J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a risky proposition from a narrative standpoint.  Financially, it was an unsurprising move, but if you have one movie that’s all slow, methodical character development and the second movie that’s all fast-paced action, then each movie could be monotonous because they’ve lost the other half of their story.  Both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows managed to avoid that problem.  The first part, while mostly centered on wandering and quiet moments, still managed to work in humor and thrilling set pieces.  By contrast, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is an almost non-stop epic battle that still finds time for the character development and deeply moving moments the series became known for.  It is the grandest of all of the Harry Potter films in scope, in action, and in heartbreak.

Whereas Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was a slow, deliberately-paced and character-driven narrative that saw Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermoine (Emma Watson) struggle with their friendship, their lack of direction, and the ongoing war between Voldemort’s forces and the rest of the wizarding world.  By contrast, Part 2 is a lean and focused final sprint as the trio hunts down the final horcruxes, major characters complete their arcs, and we come to the deadly showdown between Harry and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

At two hours and ten minutes, Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the shortest of all the Harry Potter flicks, but it feels as rich and full as the best films in the franchise.  The movie isn’t just an endless barrage of set pieces.  Part 2 does have a fun opening action scene where the trio attempts to steal a horcrux from the goblin bank Gringotts, but it wasn’t quite as thrilling as I expected.  But as the movie builds to larger set pieces, you realize that if Gringotts had been outsized as an action sequence, it would throw off the pacing of the other set pieces.  Instead, it serves as a delicious appetizer to the feast of that is The Battle of Hogwarts.

When you have a battle that covers the majority of the movie’s runtime, there’s a risk that you will wear out your audience.  You can only have wizards shoot spells at each other for so long before viewers begin to lose interest.  Part 2 artfully avoids the problem with its tremendous pacing.  The battles are paced so that you really start getting wrapped up in the action, but when matters become too heavy, someone can cut in with a joke or a beloved character can get their shining moment.  And when it’s time to break away from the action entirely for serious drama, the transition is never jarring.

Fans of the books will be on board for the whole film.  There’s one glaring omission in the final battle between Harry and Voldemort that I think slightly diminishes the overall story, but it’s a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of how well the second half of the book is adapted.  Where those unfamiliar with the novels may have trouble is a revelatory montage where the audience’s belief about two characters is turned on its head.  It’s not a matter of “Everything you know is wrong,” as much as a theme the series has returned to repeatedly since the third movie: “The simple black-and-white opinions we have about adults as children become shades of grey as we enter into maturity.”  Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are honest, open characters and we could always trust them and they could always trust each other, but the world beyond them is far more complex than when they first entered Hogwarts.

The revelatory scene and the set pieces both have emotional weight not only due to their content, but because director David Yates has shown himself to be a master of montage.  Montage can be a cheap shortcut to simply show character development or plot progression.  But it can also create as an emotional and powerful experience as any other scene in a movie.  In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Yates wasn’t just showing how Dumbledore’s Army was getting better at spells.  He was showing the bonds of friendship, how Harry has a talent for teaching, how a character like Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) is more than just background comic slapstick.  In Deathly Hallows – Part 2, we have to see a main character’s entire back story in the span of just ten minutes, and Yates pulls off his most difficult challenge yet in regards to montage and the result is a heart-wrenching scene buyoed by an amazing performance from Alan Rickman.

I know I keep talking around plot points and specifics so as to avoid spoilers, but Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is filled with death and I don’t want to ruin the impact for those who haven’t read the books.  What I can talk about in a less obtuse manner are the film’s technical triumphs.  Alexandre Desplat’s score is far better than the one he composed for Part 1 and I’ve been listening to “Lily’s Theme” on a loop while writing this review.  The visuals are astounding and were only diminished by the unnecessary 3D which made the dark color palette even darker.  As he does with the montages, editor Mark Day helps pull together fast-paced, exhilarating set pieces.  I can’t wait to see the movie in 2D so I can better appreciate the immense technical achievements on display.

And I would be remiss not to mention the actors.  As I’ve said in my reviews of the earlier films, we are so fortunate that they same actors have played the same roles from the beginning (with the obvious exception the late Richard Harris being replaced by Michael Gambon).  It wasn’t simply a matter of consistency.  It was a matter of letting an actor completely inhabit a role for a decade.  Some have worried, particularly in the case of the younger actors, that these characters will define their careers.  Few mention that these actors deserve great credit for defining these characters.

Back when the book was released, a friend joked that Matthew Lewis and Julie Walters (who plays Molly Weasley) were probably writing thank you letters to J.K. Rowling for the scenes she gave their characters.  I’m please to report that both scenes made it into the final film, they’re both triumphant, but particularly Lewis gets a chance to shine.  The movie almost seems more affectionate towards Neville than it does for Harry and I believe that’s with good reason.  Harry is the hero.  He was always the hero.  He was always brave, competent, and strong and the real shading he gets here is to courageously and tragically face the thing Voldemort fears the most.  By contrast, Neville is the unlikely hero and even unlikelier leader, and he’s so lovable not only because of Lewis’ performance, but because there’s always the implication that Harry was destined for greatness but that Neville had to work for it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the grandest of finales.  It works in hope, love, loss, death, destruction, thrills, and triumph, and does so more efficiently and powerfully than any other film in the series to date. I’m not sure if Deathly Hallows will work as one giant, almost five-hour movie, but I expect that it will.  The individual pieces are so strong—the direction, the performances, and all the technical aspects—that only the pacing would be a question.  But I’m not reviewing that eventual epic.  This review is for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, a movie that is exhilarating, emotionally powerful, uplifting, magical, and a beautiful conclusion to a wonderful series.

Rating: A-


  • Tarek

    I don’t like David Yates. Half-blood Prince was terrible. Many liked the part 1 of Deathly Hallow and I found it very banal.
    So I will make my own opinion of this last chapter next week.

    • Anthony

      I smell an asshole

      • Hiro, the Eighth Samurai

        Then maybe you should stop smelling yourself. ;)

    • big dick dog

      I am sure we will all be waiting in anticipation for YOUR review..


      Who gives a shit what you think

      • Tarek

        Who gives a s**t ? Me of course! Someone called me asshole here. ^^

      • BV

        Then why in the fuck are you reading his review? You stupid jackass!

      • Tarek

        Who read the review of who ? It is becoming a very confusing situation. this is all Matt’s fault. ^^

    • mark tornits

      HBP is amazing. Once you and the rest of the fan boys get your head out of POA’s ass, you might realize it.

      • Tarek

        Question: what is HBP ? High Blood Pressure ? Easy son. it can melt your brain. ^^

      • mark tornits

        I agree- between high blood pressure and my really small just tiny wiener I am just a mess- I do really appreciate the concern- thank you!

        enjoy DH2~

  • slinky317

    I wonder if Marvel made a bad choice by releasing Captain America a week after this.

    • Wise Man

      I think it will do good, but yea, it will definitly impact the gross of CA.

      • Hiro, the Eighth Samurai

        There’s a good chance that Captain America comes in second in its opening weekend.

    • mj

      Marvel had no choice, with Thor in May, Green Lantern In June, they had no choice but to put there other comic movie in July. However the problem is with Harry Potter, it was a winter movie and then the studio got greedy and made it a summer flick a couple of years ago. I think it was better as a winter film.

  • Jenny Murphy

    A great review, Matt. Well written and thought out. I am so excited to see this movie. And Alan Rickman is just getting incredible accolades. I really have to see what everyone is talking about. Very exciting. My best chance to see it will probably be the first showing Saturday morning.

    • Tarek

      I loved the part where he said:
      “David Yates, who is responsible for all films since the fifth volume, has done nothing wrong! And that is so right!”

      David Yates was right to do it wrong the right way…^^

    • Joon


      “What a crappy review…”

      “This is not true. My review is awesome.”

  • j jonah jameson

    Once he mentioned “montage” I cued up the Team America montage song for the rest of the review.

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  • Armand

    This movie deserves more than an A-, its an A++++++, A- is being modest. This film was spectacular, not just the best Potter film, but a brilliant film all together. Both parts complement each other, but this is indeed the rich half. I hope this movie gets its hands on some awards, it would be nice. Every performance, setpiece, moment, just everything, was perfect!

    • Richard Harris of Norway

      Maybe it was the 3D, or maybe it was the super-low volume setting in my theater, but I thought the film was mediocre at best. And I really liked part 1. :-/

      • Armand

        Yeah but seeing as the movie as also 2-D, 3-D should be nothing to bitch about, at least half the critics out there thought the 3-D was alright. And really? I guess you dig the slow vibe of the previous films, don’t get me wrong, those films are great, but for me, this is that one movie this year (well besides X-Men, but this movie is still ahead of that) that made me go WOW, THAT WAS AMAZING! It’s typically those event movies like Inception or TDK or Toy Story 3 that make you say that, but I got that from this amazing Potter film. Oh yeah, and I guess you’re not a big fan of Michael Gambon, more a fan of Harris?

  • Claire

    I have to agree with you Matt. You couldn’t have said it better. I did not read the books, but I must say over the years this franchise kind of caught hold of me. Each movie weaving a bit more magic. I loved part 1 because it did take its time with its leads, it did slow down a bit for reflection, and in doing so, one could feel the maturing of the story and characters. In part 2, well, you said it all. It was nice to be surprised by the plot twists. Most of all though, I knew something was up with Severus, but Rickman’s performance was so tragic and moving and not like any performance I’ve seen in a long time in the best of dramas. It kind of blew me away, and more than legitimized the fact that this film should be seen as a kind of a culmination of a masterpiece, rather than tween fantasy. Thanks for your review, Matt.

  • Talyseon

    What a ride! The movie was awesome, because Yates took the story, and cut away the book, and made a MOVIE. It was the only way to do it, and he did it with such panache! Check out my full review: http://bit.ly/ptqJBM

  • zxcvb

    Come go and see, will not regret it Oh look


  • Tabatha

    Awesome? Not as much as it should have been, or as much as it COULD have been.

    The book may as well not have existed. The film is about as far from the book’s storyline as it’s possible to be. Even though huge amounts of information are missing from the film so it’s obvious that they expect the audience to be familiar with the story, it’s ended up so far removed from the book that it’s offensive to anyone who’s read the book recently – certainly it offended me with it’s multitude of omissions and it’s hoard of alterations, especially the bit at the end with the wand. (If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean. If not, you won’t have a clue.)

    I’m sure I’ll grow to like this film over the coming years, heck, I don’t actually dislike it now – it was pretty fun and if I wasn’t so familiar with the book I’d have enjoyed it immensely. But if I wasn’t familiar with the book I would still have no idea what happened to Ariana, no idea why the elder wand misbehaved, no clue that Percy was reunited with his family – the list could go on forever.

    I know they can’t fit a whole book (or even half of one in this case) into one film, but if they’d only added another 20 or 30 minutes to the run time they could have filled in most of the gaping holes. As it is, if anyone’s planning to see this film without reading the book first, I recommend that they read it afterwards so that they can actually follow the plot.

    • Sevvysgirl

      Thank God there’s someone else out there with a shred of sanity! Well said, Tabatha – I couldn’t agree more! It was most definitely NOT true to the book & real HP fans (if they stop going down the route of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ & be honest for once, i.e. have their own opinions & not be sheep-like) will agree that it failed on a number of points. Having said all that, it could have been worse! But my one big gripe (aside from it not following the book in so many ways) was Alan Rickman. What a bloody waste! I’d so been looking forward to the telling of this tragic tale (&, yes, OK at least us Snape-fans got ‘The Princes Tale’ included) but it was poorly done IMHO & did not really get across the full impact of this man’s obsessive/unrequited love & the sacrifices he’d made/role he’d truly played.

      And, whilst I acknowledge that the whole film could have been worse, my main point is IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER!! It left me disappointed & frustrated, with a feeling than there are a lot of directors better than Yates who could have been given the job of blending up the ingredients at their disposal & creating a better mix!

    • Connie

      I agree! I love these movies and these books, and every time I’ve seen this, I can’t help but sit there and think about how it was different in the book, or how they left this out, and that out. My biggest issue was they completely left out the connection between Harry’s invisibility cloak being the same one they talk about in the Hallows. The person that possesses all three is the master of death, yet in the movie, they only focus on the wand and the stone and completely disregarded the cloak. That really irritated me. But, at the same time, I still love this movie, and they did do a lot of things right.

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  • zxcvb


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  • Michael

    I really enjoyed this movie! Although there were some small problems here and there, it was a terrific way to close the franchise. I wasn’t expecting a perfect film. I would give it a solid 9 out of 10.

    • Richard Harris of Norway

      Wow. And I thought my 7 out of 10 rating was generous!

  • IllusionOfLife

    Hey Matt, I’m curious what omission specifically were you mentioning that was glaring? I just finished reading the book before seeing the movie, and while there were definitely things that I missed, I understood why they were omitted in the grand scheme of things, and none of them felt particularly glaring to me.

    I agree though, that this film was excellent and Yates has proven to be the best man for the franchise. If you’re interested I wrote my own review here:


  • Hmmm

    Absolutely LOVED Alan Rickmans performance, as well as Helena Bonham Carter. The only thing that made me feel terribly disappointed was the final scene of the movie… It could really have been done a bit less “sad” (for lack of a better word), and I always hate how they make Ron out to be a ‘Non-main character’

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  • Rosie Powell

    ["Fans of the books will be on board for the whole film."]

    I wasn’t. It was just TOO MUCH Battle of Hogswarts. Even worse, most of the meaningful deaths occurred OFF SCREEN. A bit of a disappointment in compare to Part I.

  • mol

    again i love the review- almost as much as i love the film, i also found this blogs take on the film quite amusing

  • Terry

    I saw it. The money was definitely on the screen. Yet the Principle characters died like pussies.
    Harry never kicked ass like a big dog. He is such a hoe. I thought Harry was going to develop into a bad ass wizard with a cloak a killer wizard’s hat and summon all types of bad ass shit.
    That pussy lacked balls.

  • ethan

    i think harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2 is a 5 star event that you must watch its 10/10 the bst harry potter ever thank you jk rowling for giving us the great world of harry potter and thankyou Daniel radcliffe Emma Watson and lets not for get rupert grint thank you for harry potter i <3 harry potter

  • Japnit

    THIS MOVIE IS FANTABULOUSLY AWESOMAZING!!!!! EVERY MOMENT WAS AMAZInG!!!!! :):):):):):):):):):):) I’m so sad its the last movie:(:( But still the movie was great!

  • ravi

    This Movie Really Deserve 5 Star. Movie is really awesome. All secrets r Revealed. Sad thing is that we cant see harry poter on screen once again.

  • Lukas Caldera

    Deathly Hallows 1 scene with 7 Harry’s. Lupin and Tonks enter and begin to announce something (anything) but get cut off before anything is truly said other than they have news.

    Deathly Hallows 2 scene with the Resurrection Stone. Harry mentions Lupin’s son to “ghost” Lupin. Harry was never told in the movies that Lupin had a son.

    And apparently Harry will use Draco’s wand for life now, instead of repairing his original. Instead he broke the Elder Wand and tossed it aside. I was fine with that, but clearly they wanted us to forget Harry’s original wand.

    The movie states openly (if I remember correctly) that Harry feels what Voldemort feels because of that piece of soul in Harry. So when Harry “dies” and that piece is killed, he should have stopped feeling it. Instead, he feels it along with Voldemort when the snake dies. And the whole of the fights involve no spoken spells. There is no final “Avada Kadavra” vs “Expelliarmus”. If they want to have silent spells, good enough the Voldey-Dumbelore in OotP was silent as well.

    I’m just pointing out the plot holes of Lupin’s son and the feeling of the snake-horcrux dieing.

    Overall it was a good movie. They just ruined details of the ending for me with that.

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  • Box

    This movie deserves more of an A++

  • abe

    hey guys.

    ive read the books and ive seen part 2 of the deathly hallows a few times. my opinion: the pace saved the movie. the first time i saw it i was so mesmarized i didnt see any flaws.

    BIGGEST problems:

    1. humor – magonnogall calls on the armour army and makes a silly joke about always wanting to use that charm. WHY??? voldemort is at the gates, everyone is in mortal danger! i think the script writers should have known better… pathetic!

    2. final fighting scenes –

    i. what happened to the house elf army / centaurs coming to the aid of hogwarts? one of my favourite parts in the book…. just gone. so sad!

    ii. why wasnt the final fighting scene in the main hall? in the book bellatrix doesnt explode when killed by molly (was so unnecessary and lame in the movie) – voldemort sees her getting killed and shoots a curse that blasts magonnogall and others flying. and harry and voldie has an epic battle in front of everyone in the main hall. each side cheering their champion. and in the movie voldemort just disintegrates after being disarmed by harry. its confusing and bizzarre….

    3. “19 years later” – i cant say anything about this other than that 36 year old harry is almost the same height as his 11 year old son. VOMIT x 100!

    excuse my english folks, its my second language…

  • Anon

    i think harry potter is great and all of u need to be quit…..

  • Harry Potter Book 7

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  • douglas

    I am be a in harry potter And deathley hollows Movie Director

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  • disqus_C7rPWkMDbe

    I thought it was great, but it missed some key parts. I thought that part 1 was better, although it still skipped important parts. I would give it a 4.5 star out of 5, but it wasn’t a 5 star movie although it was close. I hope they add more movies, just to make it better and bring it back to life.

  • guest

    This movie is quite the opposite of your review…It left out a good portion of the book,i know its only an adaption but why mention certain points like dumbledores family past without finishing it.Grindelwald who?What is the name of the movie,THE DEATHLY HALLOWS,was there any mention of them or why they are so important.Adding 5 mins to the kings cross scene would have had explained the DEATHLY HALLOWS,dumbledores past and why harry survived the killing curse.This then leads to the final battle scene where harry does explain how the elder wand is his to voldemort,but they left out the entire great hall battle.The ending they chose was anti-climatic and depressing.