Sunday, July 17, 2011

DESCOVRIR'S PICK: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2

Photo from http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthedeathlyhallows/mainsite/index.html#/home


So they say the magic ends. But for the legions of fans who read all seven books and watched all eight movies of one of the most well-loved and the most successful media franchise of the century, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series will always be remembered.

As a disclaimer, this post will not dwell on how the last installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 movie, is way too different from the seventh book --- like how the previous films departed from the previous books. It is given --- cinematic license will always be there. Let us see the movie as is, just for this instance.

Effects wise, this is the most visually spellbinding among all Harry Potter films --- the flawlessly rendered CGI albino dragon was so real you could almost feel how it struggled upward and flew away from the severely damaged Gringotts bank. The film might get an Oscar nod for best visual effects. And the musical score was so hauntingly palpable. The Gothic feel --- a dominant of black and grey throughout the movie --- also deserves kudos for production design.

Casting all protective spells, particularly Professor McGonagall's (Dame Maggie Smith) fearless yet delightful commanding of the heavily armed, clay soldiers to come to life ( to paraphrase, "I've been wanting to use that spell my entire life") and the Hogwarts faculty and ally enchanting the school from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's army was another visual, chaotic delight. Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) surely delivered especially in time of need.

Some say Harry Potter lacks the character as a man, that he is only able to do things because of the people guarding him. It could be well said also to Daniel Radcliffe --- who until to the last film that made him one of the richest stars in the world --- was still lacking the depth as an actor. He could have done better if he showed more maturity to his attack to the role --- an adolescent who had to grow up fast as a man, who had been through a lot, particularly fighting the most villainous of them all. Afterall, Radcliffe will always be remembered as the Boy Who Lived.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape (Photo from http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthedeathlyhallows/mainsite/index.html#/home)
The most heart-wrenching (and consumed a lot of tissue papers due to a mass production of stifled to loud cries and a chorus of sniffs) and the golden moment of the movie (and faithfully the same as the book) was of Severus Snape, brilliantly portrayed by Alan Rickman. The scene when Nagini was attacking him and Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) were just helplessly watching the horrible scene from the outside, indeed sent chills. It also sent shivers when the camera got a shot of Snape who shaped like a coffin, an omen of his death. The tears I shed when Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) died in the fifth book and film was nothing compared with the tears I shed when Rickman was dying as Snape.

A look at how Snape protecting Harry all along induced more tears from the audience. The scene when Snape came to the Potters' rescue only to find out that his beloved, Lily Potter, was already dead, and he could only hug her and wailed for her death, was the brightest of Rickman's portrayal as Snape. It showed, not only the other side of Snape, but the other side of Rickman as an actor not only great as a villain, but an actor of substance.

Yours Severus Snape was of undying devotion and eternal love, you will never be forgotten. And to you Alan Rickman, may the acting honors you deserve be bestowed upon you for your faithful portrayal of Snape.

Indeed, the Harry Potter films made success out of Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint, but their lack in acting depth was complemented by the cast of the finest English actors ever assembled for a mega film franchise. Of course, Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort was still terrifying that I heard a kid or two from the audience cried once when he came out in a wand duel with Harry. Julie Walters as Molly Weasley had her moment when she said to Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) "Not my daughter, you bitch" and killed the witch at that. Though I am wishing Carter had been given more exposure in this last part of the film franchise --- she is just seductively terrifying. David Thewlis as Remus Lupin still did not disappoint but he had to die too soon. The return of Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore was also anticipated in the film, though he indeed lacks the charm of the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore. Them and among the other English actors who graced the Harry Potter film series, they made the story of Harry Potter real for us all.

And rather than casting real "adult" actors as the adult and parents Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the young actors were also made the grown up versions of their characters and that did not disappoint, especially Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) who gave a peek of an elegant, grown-up version of her, which is not too far behind.

Overall, David Yates did not disappoint and end the final Harry Potter film with a magical bang. This is my next favorite film after  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (directed by Alfonso Cuaron). They are the best for me because among the books and the films, these have been the most real, most dark of them all --- magic aside, it exposed the trio of protagonists to the reality that there is evil out there and they --- we --- all have to grow up in character and depth to conquer such evil, including our own.

As for the cinema experience, I had to content myself watching it in 3D. I have been wanting to see it in IMAX for a seemingly borderless, visual experience. I might see again the film, this time in IMAX, to make sure the film is wide and would entice me all over again, this time, from all angles.

And until the credits rolled and the screen went black, I did not left the cinema, among a number of moviegoers, making sure the film really ended. But the magic that is Harry Potter will forever remain.
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