If you have read the novel, you’ll feel cheated out of many of your favorite moments. If you haven’t, you’ll wish the movie would slow down and explain a few things.
Moreover, the dialogue’s sound quality is often sketchy. That technical weakness undermines the pleasure of seeing a dozen of Britain’s most creative thespians do curtain-call cameos employing their oddest regional accents so they can utter gnomic plot points featuring Rowling’s mixture of Latinate and Ye Olde English made-up vocabulary.
Here’s what it’s like inside a middle-aged mind watching Part 2 as yet another great character actor gets his 15 seconds of fame (I later figured out at home from IMDb.com that this was Gary Oldman reprising his 2004 role as Sirius Black): “Hey, it’s that guy. You know, whoshisface, the one you can’t remember, the guy who was Sid Vicious and Lee Harvey Oswald. Yeah, that’s, uh, Henny Youngman playing Curious Yellow. Or something like that. What did he just say? It sounded like, ‘If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now; it’s just a spring clean for the May queen.’ But it probably wasn’t. Uh-oh, Henny’s gone. Now who’s this?”
Granted, I would have been confused no matter how much Inception-like redundancy had been built in. Even if the dialogue were audible, any story that sprawls across the 20 hours of films would be unfathomably complex. Like most commercially successful plots in these days of Attention Surplus Disorder, fully grasping the whole Harry Potter corpus would require a lifetime commitment comparable to enlisting in the French Foreign Legion.
Still, there’s a simple reason for Part 2’s shortcomings that everybody is overlooking. The eight months since Part 1 weren’t enough time. Regrettably, Warner Brothers picked a summer 2011 release date. That’s not long enough. If the studio had given their assemblage of experts another five months to deliver a Christmas 2011 release, Part 2 would have been fine.
Couldn’t Warner Brothers afford to let director David Yates have the time and money to properly wind up Hollywood history’s biggest cash cow?
On the other hand, Part 2’s brief epilogue is lovely, nicely summing up the books’ fundamental themes of birth, death, loss, regeneration, and hereditary privilege. What exactly happens? Let’s just say that legacies have a lot of pull with the Hogwarts Admissions Office.
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