Quick-Thoughts: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

Warning: Spoilers Ahead • Screened at Harkins • 3rd Viewing

Neville Longbottom’s kill count in this is psychotic, but hey, he is the true hero of this story. 

To me, this is… kind of… the Avengers: Endgame (2019) of the Harry Potter franchise. It is exceedingly safe, howbeit conventionally satisfying in that clean space of a happy ending conclusion, but a bit obstructed by it being the last one of an 8-part franchise, convincing itself that it needs to hit so many checkmarks scene by scene just to quickly please dedicators with almost fanfic-ish moments, and that personally doesn’t invest me or win my heart as much as how some of the other Harry Potter films have.

Intentionally, this movie seems to undermine death, which makes sense in context with the piling tragedy that’s been building in this series since Year 4, even stating to pity the living and not the dead which strings back to the concept of saving lives by saving experience — i.e. killing The Dark Lord who’ll hinder experience in spite of those who’ll have to die in order to achieve that. It’s a bit off-putting in how self-aware it can be, but works as a memorable motif to give the film a bit of substance and weight in light of it being just a fairly large battle movie. I forgot too how Rowling works off of the story of Christ in this entry with Harry being written as someone who’s destined to die for the saving of his people but only then for him to come back. That dream sequence where he ends up in a sort of purgatory with Dumbledore is one of the trippiest and wickedest sequences I’ve ever seen in a mainstream American blockbuster; this is one of the few creative risks that the movie actually takes and it benefits the quality of the finale for me. 

Deathly Hallows Part 2 seems to be the Harry Potter movie that has connected the most with audiences alongside Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), and I think a lot of that has to do with the sheer amount of fan service and payoff in it. Almost every bit of drama in this movie is so deliberately plotted and conveniently timed to have an idealistic redemption arc to it, which honestly takes me out of the movie sometimes. Although, to be fair, my entire qualm with this franchise has always been how the narrative writing has never been that thought-out or regimented, so this flaw isn’t something that now magically found a place in the franchise, as it’s been going on forever but just not to this extent. I do still love the scene though where we peek into Snape’s backstory, even if everything leading to that moment was plotted out so clumsily; I mean, he is my favorite character in this franchise, and his timely recognition actually felt warranted for the conclusion of this war. Overall, however, this eighth and final entry in the saga is probably now my least favorite Harry Potter movie of the ones I’d consider at least “fresh”, but… nonetheless, it is still fresh; it hit the bare minimum for me just by a hair! Tonal consistency really does it with skewing my opinions towards good or bad I must say!

So! A recap of my rewatch of a franchise I was obsessed with as a kid: it seems as if my ranking of it has changed drastically — minus my #1 spot, of course. When I was a kid, however, 1, 2, and 4 were usually the top dogs, but when I was a teen, it was rather 1, 3, and 8. My current ranking though seems to be (from best to worst) 3, 1, 5, 2, 7, 8, 6, and then 4. I have no clue if nostalgia is influencing some of my decisions here or if its because I just find the themes of 1 and 2 to be better fitted in the light-hearted entries that are targeted more towards kids rather than when they’re put into the darker entries targeted at young adults; I mean, 8 and 4 were once highly regarded by me until this revisit. The biggest outlier in this new ranking though would be Order of the Phoenix (2007) which I have virtually no nostalgia for and have always thought of to be one of the weaker entries until just recently. In all fairness nonetheless, the quality of these movies are still pretty neck and neck, so the radical reshaping of my order isn’t too surprising. Conclusively, I’d say that Harry Potter is just a decent franchise, with an unusually great one living in the mix, and two “meh” ones as well, but ultimately it maintains consistent quality impressively. It may not be as grand as I remembered it to be, but I still like it. 

Verdict: B-

Harry Potter Ranked

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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