There are a number of things I have to say right up front. Firstly I don’t read the Harry Potter books, secondly I know this is late but when I was in the Edinburgh Ocean Terminal Vue Cinema I couldn’t believe how many people were still going to see this movie, the cinema was packed, and what was more surprising to me is that it was packed with all manner of people. Young kids (way too young) with their parents, couples my age, and even a couple of old ladies who had to be helped up the stairs! Fantastic, when have you seen that diverse crowd in a cinema?
So, late or not, this review is going up!
Straight up though I have to say, I wasn’t as impressed at this movie as I was by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, for me that movie is still the best of the Harry Potter series, but now not by much. For this movie is a very close second.
It is, as everyone seems to agree, much darker than the other movies and I really do like this aspect. It’s a well written story, and seems to lead things well to the next installment. The tension and suspense are built well throughout, towards a strong and fitting climax. Some have said that the ending is confusing if you haven’t read the books, I do disagree although you’ll obviously have had to have seen the movies.
The effects are superb, and the best of the series to date. You just have to watch the Dragons in action to understand what I mean, they are stunning creations and totally believable too. As are the effects in the underwater sequence, a sequence that is well edited and provides one of the most powerful and scariest moments of the film. This is surely where its rating comes from. Yet it’s a perfect scene to provide the more adult issues facing Potter and his friends, and shows that his life is becoming more serious and more involved with events outside of his school world.
However, there are issues I have with this movie and some with the whole series itself. For instance, Potter is a wizard and he’s in a wizard school, and yet you hardly ever see him casting spells and he openly says that his strong point is flying. I don’t get this, and I realise there are differences in the books, but I’m talking about the movies, and in these he appears as a bottom of the class wizard. Indeed this is the first time I remember him casting successful spells. Then, with all that, he goes on to fight one of the most powerful creatures in the universe, or so we’re led to believe. For me that’s quite a leap in the story.
This last battle also comes to a very contrived ending which seems far too convenient, appearing as it does out of absolute nowhere. It’s a “get out clause” that appears just in time and is explained later on. For me this reeks of the characters being written into a corner and a quick backdoor being created for them. I really didn’t like this moment.
The entire movie seems harshly and overly edited, there was barely time to keep up as we leapt from pivotal scene to pivotal scene with rarely a breather for character development or backstory. You could tell this has been seriously cut down. Scenes seemed to begin late and end early, with characters just appearing ready to go. For me this didn’t have the affect of keeping up the pace but actually harming it and racing on too fast with the story.
The acting is interesting among the younger cast in this movie, Daniel Radcliffe seems to have an awkwardness about him, and perhaps that’s him playing the character, but it’s apparent in most scenes where emotions are called for.
Emma Watson will have to mature some and learn to tone down her acting, for she was guilty of overacting at times. Yet I can see her becoming a big star in the future. She has the looks and you can see great performances in her.
Surprisingly it was Rupert Grint that provided the best performance from the young cast for me. He just seemed so natural in every scene, and so believable.
Overall I was impressed by the effects and the darkness of the story, yet the editing and the too pacey story meant that I didn’t have time to follow the pace of the movie rather I had to race to keep up. I suspect this may take another viewing to appreciate it, or perhaps even a fuller DVD version, but for me this falls in as the second best Potter movie to date.