DIRECTED BY DAVID YATES
STARRING: DANIEL RADCLIFFE, RUPERT GRINT, EMMA WATSON, MATTHEW LEWIS, TOM FELTON, RALPH FIENNES, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, ALAN RICKMAN, MAGGIE SMITH, MICHAEL GAMBON, ROBBIE COLTRANE, JASON ISAACS, JOHN HURT, CIARAN HINDS, KELLY MACDONALD, EMMA THOMPSON, DAVID THEWLIS with JIM BROADBENT and GARY OLDMAN
Contrary to the plight of criticism, I must say that it’s always the best of pleasures to lose out to a filmmaker in this business of second opinions. The critical eye thrives seeking closure, the critic – an eye-opener into a heart of joy. I’ve titled my review after the first ever chapter of the first ever book that Joanne-Kathleen Rowling penned, a strange little story about a strange little boy who could make things happen by just wanting them to; who could get anything he wanted in the world except for the comfort of love, for which he held his little hand out. And after fourteen long years with a billion-odd friends who liked to fancy themselves as strange as he was, the spectacle comes to an end in both parchment and moving picture. It’s time to step ahead and pride myself as one of his earliest friends, and one of ‘her’ bitterest enemies in the course of time, for I witnessed a woman transgress from a wild-eyed storyteller to a flatulent Federal reserve with an eye out for naught but the next big thing. But as I observed, time helps forget, if not entirely heal oneself. And I realized that I sat through 126 minutes of it.
Before we go haywire with happiness here (and I shall join in on the celebrations, of course!), let me punctuate. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II’ serves to be as badly-acted as its three predecessors (I include ‘Part I’ in this list) and yet it’s the first that tries to do something about it. Director David Yates finally makes his mark! To popular observation, right from epics as ‘the Star Wars’ double-trilogy to ‘Indiana Jones’ and the more recent ‘Lord of the Rings’, franchises have always brought out their respective champions, flag-bearers in a mutualistic relationship. Peter Jackson helped shape ‘the Lord of the Rings’, the series shaped him back. It’s a similar case with Christopher Nolan and his brainchild ‘Batman Begins’; nothing too different with Sam Raimi and his ‘Spiderman’ either. ‘Harry Potter’, on the other hand, had changed hands almost as frequently as his Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers, thus giving one no concrete set of coordinates to sketch his growth. But in Yates, the film found refuge – the television director made his film debut with ‘the Order of the Phoenix’, a shaky dabble with an almost entirely new crew. In ‘the Half Blood Prince’, he signed his name, warm with the return of Steve Kloves. And warming up further with ‘the Deathly Hallows – Part I’, we reach halftime with the uproar still imminent. Until then, David Yates had but successfully painted his town black, an overtly-visual metaphor for the dark hours depicted. His vindication was yet to come.
With ‘Part Two’, the director serves to not just atone but takes a fair shot at victory. No one can make the magic trio (of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson) act – they’ve lived their roles, so it’s only wise to let them be. But Yates is not entirely convinced – for once, he takes our stands. For once, we see some ambition; for once, we see some close-up shots – how I jumped with joy! It had been torture to deal with the frigidity of physical expressions in sequences that simply refused to move. From mere talkie-slideshows, we have a screenplay. From scenes ushered by over-saturated plots, we have a fast-paced narrative that moves on its own. The writer and director found time in their hands and finally, how much they could do with it! I’m still opposed to the idea of the two-part split, a four-hour film could have worked well even if it would mean half the profits spelling ‘the Return of the King’. Not that the final addition begs to differ, though – I drew parallels in musical direction, in the intersperse of rush and quiet, in overpopulated battle sequences, and the fortress in itself was vaguely reminiscent of that of King Theoden. But then at least they’ve got their inspirations right!
Nevertheless, Alexandre Desplat emerges as hero of our story beating the visual effects and Matthew Lewis (as Neville Longbottom as a newfound daredevil) who come out a close-second. Steve Kloves drops anchor on a fine editing job (Mark Day) with tremendous backend support by the star cast comprising of actors who have worked their magic countless times before. Helena Bonham Carter (as Bellatrix Lestrange) thrills with an Emma Watson impression, Maggie Smith (as Minerva McGonagall) works some high-strung charm in a sea of novelty with every crest for a quirk. There still is an excess of characters, but there’s also a visible effort in trying to do justice to every single one of them, even if absolutely outrageous (Ciaran Hinds as Aberforth Dumbledore, for instance). Yet, the focus almost entirely (and rightfully) is upon ending the series in as nostalgic a way as possible. Ms. Rowling herself abounded with references to her previous books, not to mention borrowing a hefty amount of her yesteryear writing style. Steve Kloves does his share too as the film tries too hard to not let go of itself. The result is a memorable departure that’s better late than never.
‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II’, in short, is a blast from the past with chunks of present and a sliver of future. It does not compete with legend in its conclusiveness, nor do I think it wants to. Perhaps a tad over-dramatized and violent more so, the effort still shows, of a bunch of people who have given it their all. A fair tribute to the series that had enthralled children and adults alike by its visual brilliance, narrative diversity and quite a bit of heart. More of one to the woman who was crazy enough to found a school for magic, run a train to it off a non-existent platform, conceptualizing things ranging from chocolate Frogs to enchantments bizarre, and most of all: to the unlikeliest of heroes in the bespectacled boy who shall forever serve to inspire short-sighted preteens and the faithful flock that grew up with him.
Here’s one for everyone for keeping the Faith. And another for David Yates and his cast and crew, for reviving it. Two Thumbs up.