I’ve hidden my shame for 7 years, but it’s finally time to come clean: Deathly Hallows Part 2 is my least favorite Harry Potter film.
It’s been 7 years since the U.S. theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and it’s been 7 since I’ve seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Like many Harry Potter fans, I saw the final film at midnight on opening night, but unlike other fans, I’ve never seen it again since.
When the credits started to roll on the final chapter of my most beloved series, I remember sitting in my seat thinking, “That’s it?” I walked out of the theatre dissatisfied and unfulfilled, a feeling only ever experience for one other Potter film, Order of the Phoenix. This time though, there weren’t three other films and a book to look forward to. To put it simply, it wasn’t at all the way I’d hoped to feel at the close of what had been such a huge and important part of my life.
Fast forward 7 years, and I still couldn’t bring myself to watch the second Deathly Hallows again. It’d left too much of a bad taste in my mouth and I didn’t want to put myself through that again. Until now. After a little over a decade I’ve decided to watch it again and see if my opinion will have changed. It turns out it hasn’t. Not really.
Music of every Harry Potter film is always a standout. No matter the composer, each managed to create pieces that are both memorable on their own, yet subtle enough to not distract from what you’re watching. Deathly Hallows Part 2 even plays well with silence, creating drama and emotional weight not had in previous films.
The acting across the board is at its best in the final film. It’s no surprise that the adult actors shined, but the kids also showed off their best work. After growing up into young adults before our eyes, their acting also grew. Daniel Radcliffe in particular resonates as the leading man, shouldering much of the emotional weight.
In fact, I found myself enjoying the entire beginning of the film. Where it began to fall apart was the battle.
Multiple small problems in the final portion of the film became too much to overlook.
Because the film is largely from Harry’s point of view, we mostly are only witness to his mission of finding and destroying horcruxes. What lacked was the emotional resonance of a full out war. As cool as it was to see the adult witches and wizards show off their skill, ultimately, this fight was taking place at a school, and most of those fighting for the good side were children.
Underage witches and wizards bravely fight against those twice their age with twice their skill. The impact of that, however, is never felt, nor is the tragedy of their untimely deaths fully realized. The closest any student comes to receiving a death scene is when we see Lavender being mauled by Fenrir. Of course, we still don’t even know if she’s dead.
Goyle is also given a death scene of sorts, in that, we see him plummet to his death. There’s no moment or beat to actually process the fact that he just died though. True, Goyle was one of Draco’s goons for the entirety of the series and we don’t like him, but he’s still a child.
Then there’s Fred, a character we do love, whose death we don’t see, and are barely given a moment to grieve. Likewise, Remus and Tonks’ deaths are skimmed over, despite being two of the main supporting characters. Understandably, there’s little time in a film this large to allow for death scenes and grieving moments for everyone. But for a franchise whose story is about love and friendship, it’s disappointing to see this battle so focused on the action, and so little on character moments.
Of course, you also can’t forget these head scratching moments: Harry breaking the Elder Wand before repairing his own, the inability to match Harry’s eyes to Lily’s, and awkwardly making Luna and Neville a couple.
Between passionate and casual fans, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is often touted as everyone’s favorite Potter film, but for me, it left much to be desired. I spent 7 years hiding my truth for fear of retribution, but I will no longer be shamed. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is my least favorite Harry Potter film, and while we’re at it, Chamber of Secrets is my favorite. But that’s a confession for another day.