Friday, 8 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (12A, 130 mins)
Director: David Yates
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It’s been ten years, with eight films from four directors, over six billion dollars in the bank so far, and another billion to come with this one. But the Harry Potter saga finally draws to a close, and it’s been some ride, with frequent highs (Prisoner of Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince) and only the very occasional lows.

Has it been worth the journey, the investment? This majestic final chapter proves that the answer is an unequivocal yes, and we’ve been left with an octology the likes of which cinema has never seen, and never will again.

It opens with a very swift recap of how Part 1 ended, as Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) gets his hands on the Elder Wand, one of the three components of the Deathly Hallows that will grant him unstoppable power. But that’s your lot in terms of backstory, and if you haven’t seen every film up until this point, well then you really ought to remedy that before coming anywhere near this, because you’re going to be lost.

Following on from Part 1, Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are still searching for the remaining Horcruxes, the objects that contain pieces of Voldemort’s soul, and destroying them is the only way to kill him.

One such is thought to be in a vault at the goblin bank, the starting point for a first rate early action sequence involving mine carts and a very angry dragon. To find the others, they need to get into Hogwarts, which is on lockdown, surrounded by Deatheaters and Dementors, with the treacherous Snape (Alan Rickman) now installed as headmaster.

All hope is almost gone, the Order of the Phoenix has been disbanded, and it’s all incredibly grey and mournful. Everyone is putting their faith and life in the hands of Harry Potter, who has grown from a frightened boy to a powerful wizard, attaining an almost messianic status in the process.

The fear was that the ball was dropped in the first part of Deathly Hallows last year, which was all talk and little forward momentum. But with all the moping out of the way in the first part, we’re left with an action extravaganza.

School’s out forever, and this is the final all-out battle between good and evil. Clashes between characters that have been a long time coming prove to be awe-inspiring, and there are consequences and copious amounts of death in a colossal adventure that simply rattles along.

And yet amid all the explosions and wand battles, somewhere in the middle we manage to find time for what will come to live in legend as the signature sequence of the entire series. Giving too much away would be grossly unfair for those who don’t know what’s coming, but just know that it involves Snape, some flashbacks and some home truths, as twists and revelations hit like hammer blows.

What we don’t get too much of is the byplay between the three young leads, but then we’ve had seven films of that and there’s very little left that needs to be said between them, though Radcliffe, Grint and Watson are still terrific. More pleasingly, the great actors who missed out in some of the previous instalments get to show what they’re really made of here, particularly Maggie Smith and the miraculous Alan Rickman.

Spending a decade and almost 20 hours of screen time with these characters has made them part of our lives, a theme that filters into the film itself. The saga has grown in depth and richness from colourful cartoons for children to parables of the bonds of friendship, family and love, until eventually it gets to a point where you realise you don’t want it to end.

And unlike Lord of the Rings, it doesn’t get bogged down in a dozen different finales that feel the need to give everyone a closing monologue. Instead there’s dignity, a quiet grace and a few tears. It’s a fitting culmination to a monumental achievement and everyone involved should feel immensely proud.

4 comments:

  1. I personally lost interest in the Harry Potter movies after they got too dark...they lost the innocent charm that attracted me to them in the first place...

    Anyhow...hello! My name is Nathanael Hood from Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear!

    I just want to invite you to my blog's blogathon. It will be taking place in about three weeks. The topic is MONSTER MOVIES FROM THE 50S!!!

    I would love it if you would participate! Send me an email at nahood@ursinus.edu.

    Here are a couple of links to more information:

    http://forgottenclassicsofyesteryear.blogspot.com/2011/06/next-blogathon-monster-movie-mania.html

    http://forgottenclassicsofyesteryear.blogspot.com/2011/07/blogathon-update.html

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  2. Well, the movies grew up; too bad you didn't. It's very infantile to use a movie's comment board to post an ad for something of your own.

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  3. Nate hood is a jackass. Spends 10% of his comment on a movie he hasn't seen and then the rest plugging his own crap. Boo sir

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  4. Nice review, but I feel like it's David Yates who could learn from Peter Jackson about storytelling. The ending is hardly dignifying.

    Bellatrix's was just plain silly, Molly could have been so much better. Neville slaying Nagini seemed like a very forced situation, unlike in the original story. The battles were no different from superhero series and movies, didn't feel wizarding. And Voldemort's final battle with Harry were more like a homage to Dragon Ball Z. Most of the character's endings were almost mockeries to their backstories.

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