UPDATE 7/17: Had a second viewing today. This time there was constant drone from the air conditioning in the theater. And I truly mean a "drone," the sound was a Perfect 5th interval and definitely in the bass registers. I couldn't hear it until everyone hushed for the movie, so I thought it might've been a part of the film score. Nope, 15 minutes later: droooooooooooooooooooone. My updated thoughts are scattered through out the article, so read on.
Reader beware, here there be uninhibited spoilers. Hit the jump to read more.
Note, this is not really intended to be a review. Just a collection of my thoughts after watching the movie. Also note that all the quotes are paraphrased.
The music in Part 2 caught my notice only a few times (not a negative), and when it did it was appropriately dark and strong. The first minutes features a solo soprano with a sorrowful melody that immediately brings back all the events and tragedy that ended Part 1. 2 minutes into the film, and already there are tears. That good.
After the release of Part 1, there were rumors of bringing back John Williams to score Part 2. This, I firmly believe, would have been a mistake and I am very glad Alexandre Desplat scored both parts. It is not a question of John Williams' skill -- who would question that -- but a question of style. John Williams has unique style that employs several modern 20th century techniques. Most other composers employ a simpler, though effective, language. Williams can score for dark and tense action, certainly, but it would have been stylistically very different from Desplat. Switching composers between the two parts would have compromised the whole.
Proof of this stylistic difference is even present in Part 2. The end credits starts with a reprise of William's original score (it might even be taken straight from Sorcerer's Stone). Immediately following is Desplat's work for Deathly Hallows, and the difference is stark.
I think the epilogue (the 19 years later) at the end could have followed different rules. I was too distracted to notice what the music was like here; for all I know, there was no musical score for the majority of the epilogue. Hypothetically speaking though, if Williams was to return in Deathly Hallows, this would have been the place to do it. With the Trio's (plus Ginny's) children all departing on the Hogwarts Express in a Voldemort-free era, Williams' score would have signaled a return to the innocent magic, fun, and wonder of The Sorcerer's Stone. This feeling is certainly present on screen. I did notice the music that accompanied the very final shot of the epilogue; a shot of the Trio with Harry dead and center, looking very content and worry free. It sounded very much like a cue taken straight from John Williams triumphant and magical cadences (immediately followed by the end credit music mentioned above). It felt out of place to me, which leads me to suspect that just prior to this cue there was either no score, or a very-Desplat score followed by a Williams-esque musical cue. I will certainly see Part 2 again, so I'll try to not be distracted by the on-screen sparklies and pay attention to the musical score.
UPDATE 7/17: Paid attention to the music in the epilogue this time. There is definitely a score through the whole scene, and it does sound like John Williams. I am not sure if it is a new score by Williams just for this scene, if it's taken from a previous film, or if it is Desplat emulating Williams effectively. The music is very subtle though, and the fanfare in the last shot still seems awkward to me. But maybe Yates tried this scene with a less subtle Williams-esque backdrop, and it comes out as even more out of place. OH WELL. Time to move on.
Breaking into Gringotts
I have mixed feelings about breaking into Gringotts. Aside from the questioning at Shell Cottage, Part 2 essentially starts with this mini adventure. Somehow I feel that getting to this point felt rushed, but that might be because I know the Trio spends a significant time (at least a week, maybe a month or more) at Shell Cottage in the book, where in the movie it seems like only a day has passed. Gringotts itself feels very awkward, but then it again, it should: "We plan and plan and all Hell breaks loose!" Very true Harry, so I'll take the awkwardness as it is.
The Battle of Hogwarts (or, the rest of the movie)
Part 2 does this battle justice. Part 2 is essentially the last 20% of the novel spread over a 3 hour movie, and the director really used this extra time to allow this battle to be presented to its fullest. Yates even employs some bullet-time in these action sequences (slow motion doesn't really describe it). Lots of shots with flashing spells and wand-work and giant dramatic shields and fiery destruction. And Giants. And Spiders. Plus explosions.
Part 2 omitted the visit to Ravenclaw common room and the following semi-private confrontation with Snape. Instead, we have a much more dramatic presentation that takes place in the great hall. In front of all the gathered students, Harry steps out of the crowd of students, surprising everyone, and directly confronts Snape. Probably one of my favorite scenes, but it comes at the price of Ravenclaws common room. What's worse is that we're teased with the possibility of still seeing the common room, until Luna Lovegood rushes in and tells Harry a cheat code.
Also, they kill Lavender Brown. That's a low blow. At least in the novel, her fate is ambiguous. Not so much on screen.
UPDATE 7/17: So twice now I've completely missed the reason why Neville Longbottom is searching for Luna Lovegood at the beginning of the battle. I basically hear "BRITISH ACCENT BRITISH ACCENT and we all might be dead by morning." Lovely. I inwardly suspect that the producers threw in a bit of Neville-Luna romance here, all though J.K. Rowling firmly rejects that idea (last I heard).
The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
I'm completely disappointed here. Part 2 did nothing to shed light on the mysteries surrounding Albus Dumbledore's family. In Part 1, the last we hear is that there was a sister who was hidden from the Wizarding world, and that she died under mysterious circumstances. The rumors paint the Dumbledores' as a pure-blood-only anti-muggle/squib family, and insinuates that Albus may have played a hand in Ariana's death. I do not remember it clearly, but I believe Part 1 also established a mysterious connection between Albus and Grindelwald. This is true to the events in the novel.
In Part 2, all we hear about this is that "Albus sacrificed Ariana in his search for power," spoken by Aberforthe himself. That's certainly true in a sense, but not in the sense presented in Rita Skeeter's "biography." As it is, the uninformed movie-goer must only assume that Dumbledore really did play a direct, intentional hand in his sisters death; and his family was just as abusive and hateful as the rumors say. The truth that is never presented in the film is much more tragic. Without it, I think a critical humanizing element in the character of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is missed.
UPDATE 7/17: Yup. Still disappointed.
The same problem carries over into the King's Cross scene. All of the superficial elements were present: white room, Harry (looking weird with no glasses), Dumbledore, Voldemort's dieing soul, and a bench. Harry and Dumbledore have a conversation about Harry and what he's going to do next. That's it.
Interestingly, though King's Cross is "Harry's party," in the novel this is where we learn the most about what motivates Albus Dumbledore: his relationship with Grindelwald, his fascination with the Hallows, and his guilt over his sister's death. With its omission from the movie, we are left with the secretive Dumbledore who might have killed his sister in pursuit of power showing up in Harry's white light saying pleasant things. Whaaat?
UPDATE 7/17: So yeah, I remembered that we are also supposed to learn about the protection Harry received from his mother, and how Voldemort took in the protection. Basically, the explanation for why Harry survived the Killing Curse back then AND now. Dumbledore also explains why Harry's wand is so powerful against Voldemort at critical times.
19 Years Later
I can't say I'm completely happy with the epilogue either. Visually, it's great. All the players are here, and they're all aged wonderfully, with their own children and whatnot. However, the novel's epilogue is just a handful of pages where we learn an amazing amount of information about Harry's, Ginny's, Hermione's, and Ron's families. I would only add to that link that we also learn a little about the personalities of all the children. In the film, all that can be gleamed is that Albus Severus Potter is afraid of being sorted into Slytherin. Perhaps this direction is to compensate for the inexperience actors portraying the Trio's children. If so, that is unfortunate and disappointing. This being the final moment left to all the Potter fans -- the final farewell, the last hurrah, the moment that will last forever -- I think the scene should've taken the effort to be more complete.
Other Nitpicky Complaints in Bullet Form
- Percy Weasley did not make a triumphant return. Or, he was just kinda around and I never noticed. UPDATE 7/17: Still didn't notice, so I'm just gonna say he's no where.
- Luna Lovegood is at shell cottage. Next thing we know, Luna Lovegood is at Hogwarts, no explanation. The intervening time frame feels so short (the Gringotts heist, see above) that there really isn't a plausible explanation for this.
- In the novels, near the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, the defenders are suddenly reinforced with the appearances of the Slytherin families, and the centaurs in the forbidden forest. This was completely omitted from the film.
- No house elf insurrection. Then again, house elfs always got the short end of the stick in the films.
Awkward Observations but not Really Complaints
- There is an extra and appreciated scene where Ron and Hermione destroy the Cup of Hufflepuff in the Chamber of Secrets. With the cup's destruction, the surrounding water comes to life and completely soaks the two. At this moment, this is what I'm thinking: That water has been at the bottom of the dungeon for centuries, in this sewer looking place inhabited by a giant evil snake, stagnant and probably incredibly filthy. Then they kiss. Grody.
- The Bellatrix dies via the most annoying way to die in any Final Fantasy game.
Things Done Really Well
- Snape's memories in the Pensieve
- The walk into the Forbidden Forest
- Snape vs. McGonagall duel
- Bellatrix vs. Molly Weasley
- Neville vs. Lord Voldemort (and the rest of the battle to the end)
- "Not my daughter, you Bitch!" - Molly Weasley
- "Harry Potter, you will listen to me!" - Luna Lovegood
- "I always wanted to try that spell." - Minerva McGonagall
This seems like a really long article about a bunch of things to complain about in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and you might get the impression that I am full of disappointment. This is not true, it is simply easier to express negatives than it is to find the positives. Overall, I am satisfied. I will see this one more time for sure, possibly twice, and I completely look forward to it. For the end of this saga, justice has been done. I will miss the the prospect of new movies. But let's not forget about Pottermore, so future is not completely without news of our favorite wizard friends.
UPDATE 7/17: Still like this movie, complaints and all. I just feel like the fans who have stuck through 8 whole movies, the most recent of which were definitely 3 hours, deserve and are quite capalbe of an extra 15 minutes to flesh out the King's Cross and Epilogue. Remember Lord of the Rings: Return of the King? That "epilogue" (basically everything after the ring was destroyed) went on fooorever, and it's length was never really became a complaint so much as a conversation piece. Same thing here. Oh well, perhaps that will all be fixed in the Blu-Ray editions.