'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2'
(Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, et al / 3-Disc Blu ray+DVD / PG-13 / 2011 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. It all ends here.
DVD Verdict: I read the seventh book again before watching this movie, and found that source material hugely epic and enjoyable. The movie, however, was just as hugely disappointing, and not only because David Yates and co. decided to change so many plot points unnecessarily and for the worse.
The film's biggest problem is that so many character actions/interactions don't feel realistically urgent or emotional. Characters who should be going balls to the wall in this massively important life-or-death situation are often just standing around calmly with mild concern on their faces. (One of many examples: Ron and Hermione open the door to the Chamber of Secrets only to stand there as if they're not sure they should go in. Get in there and grab some basilisk fangs, already!)
David Yates has demonstrated a pattern of neutering HP characters emotionally and rendering them so understated that their personalities dissolve. (Listen to interviews with the man, and you'll hear how consistent this lack of verve is to his own personality.) Where's the anger and emotional heat that are naturally a part of this kind of battle? Are the 'good guys' just not allowed to get angry in David Yates' moral universe, no matter how deeply they're assailed? For example, in the book, Neville was a brave, hardened guerrilla fighter by the final battle, but in the movie, he can't even look Voldemort in the eye as he meekly informs him that he doesn't think it would be good to join the bad guys.
And it's not just anger and urgency that are lacking: there was no sense of personal or collective triumph at the defeat of Voldemort! (Partly, this is because the filmmakers made the stupid decision to have Harry beat Voldemort in private rather than in front of everyone.) Sure, it's an inherently mixed emotional bag, as many loved ones have died during the battle and Voldemort's extended reign of terror, but come on, the whole freaking world has been saved! Most glaringly, why is Ginny just sitting across the room after Harry not only turns out to be alive, but has finished off the baddest bad guy ever? One would expect her, as Harry's love interest, to be supremely happy at these facts.
More neutering: Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he's intentionally going to his death in the Forbidden Forest, and neither Ron nor Harry, supposedly best friends, decide they should maybe hug each other or say goodbye in any fashion whatsoever. (In the book, Harry doesn't tell anyone he's going to his death, so that he won't lose his resolve or have to explain/convince people to let him go. A much more interesting choice, but even if you go with the movie version, at least make it realistic.)
Some key moments were delivered well (e.g., Snape's death), but more often they were way off. As another reviewer noted, the duel between Molly and Bellatrix was completely, totally bungled. Rushed, unemotional, and stiffly acted and filmed.
Some fantasy climaxes are appropriately uplifting and epic, without minimizing whatever losses were incurred along the way. Despite interesting and well-executed moments here and there, the last HP movie was the opposite: boring, draining, unrealistic, and mostly unsatisfying. Most people fell unthinkingly in love this film, but to me, David Yates and friends have ruined perhaps the only opportunity to deliver a soaring cinematic climax to this series. [MM] [FYI: The Digital Copy, you say? Well, there is NO digital copy for the customer, but the "right" to stream the movie over the internet (via an Ultraviolet stream) from Flixster!] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Includes Instant Streaming with UltraViolet Digital Copy
Disc 1: Theatrical Movie on Blu-ray
Disc 2: Special Features on Blu-ray:
Maximum Movie Mode hosted by Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and other cast members
A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe
The Goblins of Gringott's
The Women of Harry Potter
Warner Bros. Studio Tour (London)
Disc 3: Theatrical Movie on DVD