Critical Mass: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2' is 'satisfying,' guaranteed
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2" is a "satisfying" end to the franchise. How do we know this? Because that very word, "satisfying," is the adjective du jour in reviews from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Time magazine, Entertainment Weekly, the Hollywood Reporter, USA Today — well, you get the idea.
Why are the critics all using this particular S-word (other than them being part of a vast media conspiracy)? They're enjoying pure "Potter" satisfaction thanks to the film's craftsmanship, its fidelity to its source material and the undeniably avuncular feeling the audience gets in having watched stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up on film.
The Times' Kenneth Turan, who was not a huge fan of Part 1, says Part 2 provides a storybook ending to the eight-movie epic: "The Harry Potter films, like the boy wizard himself, have had their creative ups and downs, so it's especially satisfying that this final film, ungainly title and all, has been worth the wait. Though no expense has been spared in its production, it succeeds because it brings us back to the combination of magic, adventure and emotion that created the books' popularity in the first place."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times recommends skipping the 3-D surcharge to watch the "solid and satisfying" film in two dimensions, as 3-D renders things too dark. And though he praises the three leads, he says they are upstaged by supporting players: "Such British legends as Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes steal scenes just by standing there. What chance does Harry or anybody have against Voldemort's smashed face with its nostril slits? Late in the film, leaving nothing to chance, Voldemort even appears as his own fetus, looking like it's been simmered in red sauce."
Richard Corliss in Time magazine likewise finds the final "Harry Potter" to be a double S — "solid, satisfying" — while lauding director Yates and writer Steve Kloves for their skill at adpating J.K. Rowling's work. As for the franchise, "One imagines future generations will watch it, in its nearly 18-hour expanse, as one sprawling, enthralling story. 'Please, Mom and Dad, can we see just one more episode? It's only 3 a.m.' "
Lest we think that the United States film-criticism industry has a monopoly on satiety, Ian Bartholomew of the Taipei Times found the film "remarkably satisfying" in Taiwan as well. "Those invested in the Harry Potter series will not want to miss this final installment, but given the serpentine intricacy of a plot developed over eight long feature films, those who aren’t probably couldn’t care less," Bartholomew writes.
And although "Harry Potter" was tracking at 97% fresh on RottenTomatoes.com at last check, not everyone felt that the film was — uh, what is that word we're looking for? — satisfying. James Verniere of the Boston Herald can't get no satisfaction from "a dreary slog to its easy-to-guess twist ending/final showdown.... A large part of the problem is the villain. Do the tortured Oedipal twists and turns of Voldemort’s back story increase our abhorrence of the Dark Lord? Or are he and his crew of Death Eaters and flamboyantly garbed whatnots just waiting for the next road-show version of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' to provide future employment? Talk to the goblin."
Which just goes to show you can't satisfy all the people all the time.
— Scott Sandell
Photo: Daniel Radcliffe in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Associated Press.