The last movie and final movie is over and it was thoroughly satisfying. The movie enhanced the books. Once again a great story and good acting rise above cinematic gimmicks (I saw the 2D version, more on that later). The child actors have certainly grown, but the surrounding giants allow the film and series to excel.
In the final film, several performances stood out. They were helped by their excellent situations, but they took it to the next level. Ralph Fiennes as Tom Riddle was great. The steady deterioration due to parts of his soul being obliterated was done quite well. The quick transitions from pompous triumph to shocked vulnerability were excellent. Matthew Lewis played Neville Longbottom to a T. Limping to his defiant speech and then ignorantly and boldly challenging Voldemort was a highlight of the film. Helena Bonham Carter playing Hermione Granger using a polyjuice potion to play Bellatrix Lestrange was very convincing. Just like part 1, I enjoy watching actors play characters pretending to be other characters. Those 3 exceeded expectations. The others certainly did well and my high standards were met.
I realize that 3D allows you to charge extra to attend a movie, but it typically adds very little to the actual movie (unless it is a low budget 80s monster flick). There were several spots that I am sure would look fun in 3D (e.g. the Gringott's Mine Train). The real travesty to me was that the 2D experience was affected by this. Several times I could tell that rather than the background being out of focus, it was actually doubled up like a 3D film would look without glasses. Unacceptable.
Grand films might just need a break. This is not a new idea at all. Movies such as Ben Hur and Lawrence of Arabia had intermissions. Why? Because they were really long. But also because they were a single idea and could not be split up. The Deathly Hallows was split in two at its most logical point, but the story really works as a whole. The drama and setup in part one is entirely unfulfilling. The action of part two really makes little sense without part one. The other epic conclusion this century was 3.5 hours in theaters and 5 hours on extended DVD, yet The Return of the King only makes sense in that context. It could have been split after the battle of Minas Tirith. It makes logical sense but not emotional sense. The ups and downs of a movie need to be there. Separate them by 8 months and you lose all of the buildup that works in the ending of the film. I suggest that the best way to watch both films is to watch part one, take an hour break for food, and then watch part two. As soon as the DVD comes out, I think it will make both parts of this film that much better. The Deathly Hallows as a whole might just be the best movie in the series.