Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (12) / Directed by: David Yates / Written by: Steve Kloves / Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter / Released: Out Now
So this is it, after ten years and eight films we finally come to the last Harry Potter film we will ever (probably) see. Any minute now some Hollywood exec is likely to cry ‘reboot’ so for now we can enjoy all eight films (seven really) for the handsomely mounted productions that they are. Whilst they have not always brought the thrills and at times have been saddled with some awfully wooden performances, especially in the early films, I think we can all agree that this has been a pretty consistent series overall. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two suffers largely to being what is essentially the last act in a four hour film, as a result it feels a little lacking in some areas compared to your traditional self contained blockbuster. By and large though, it delivers a suitably thrilling and magical finale.
If you didn’t see the first part, first of all don’t bother until you do. Also if you have seen the first part, but only once when it was released, then you may want to give it a watch through before proceeding with the second part because this offers no recap before launching straight into the action. Our story picks up with the trio of Harry, Hermione and Ron on the run after being declared a menace by the new Voldemort regime. They are looking for the remaining horcruxes which make up Voldemort’s soul and will enable our heroes to vanquish him once and for all. Along the way, allegiances shift, secrets long buried come to the surface and unlikely heroes emerge. The action culminates in a massive battle at Hogwarts as Voldemort’s horde of evil wizards descends on the school with the express purpose of killing Harry Potter.
Director David Yates has maintained a high level of quality for the finale and the film is probably the best acted of the whole saga (Radcliffe I’m looking at you). The secret weapon in the films arsenal turns out to be Alan Rickman as Professor Snape who has some really wonderful moments in the film where Rickman steps up his game considerably after being a bit of a background character for so long. Snape’s tragic back story is revealed and his relationship to Harry deepens as we find out their fates are entwined far more than we thought. Ciaran Hinds is a new addition to the cast as Aberforth Dumbledore and does a lot with his brief scenes as Dumbledore’s slightly less friendly brother. Each ongoing cast member is given their moment to shine in the final battle with Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom emerging as the true hero of the whole saga, in my opinion anyway.
The film also goes to some surprisingly trippy places in the finale. There is a whole afterlife/limbo scene which is really well conceived and doesn’t pander to the younger audience members and could have reeked of sentiment but doesn’t. It even contains the single most disturbing image in the whole saga. The scene occurs as a nice respite amongst all of the special effects and carnage. Scenes like this make me anxious to see what David Yates does next as he has some serious skill as a storyteller as well as a visual artist. He probably needs to have another post-Potter original screenplay film thrust upon him so that he goes into the Christopher Nolan big leagues and can write his own ticket. Speaking of the visuals I will say this, it could be that it was filmed with an eye on going to 3D but some of the effects were a little shoddy around the edges. A scene in an underground vault reeks of theme park ride, even going so far as to include POV shots. It could just be that the film was rushed for release and some of the effects were unfinished but in a production of this high a profile you would think that they could at least get the effects as good as they could be. Also amongst the battles some of the CG creatures come across a little awkwardly. The climatic battle involves trolls, lycanthropes and giant spiders and they don’t always work alongside their organic comrades.
The problem is with this film is that it’s hard to review on its own merits because it’s the second part of a more complete story. As a film on its own the structure sucks, there isn’t really a journey as such for the characters as this has already been told in the previous instalment and indeed in the previous six films. I wish that they had combined parts one and two into a four hour whole although I understand why they chose not to. I’m convinced that Potter has enough fans that they would have turned up for a four hour finale and it would have still made money. As it stands Deathly Hallows part two is merely a damn good finale when the two together could have been a ten out of ten classic.
Extras: Aberforth Dumbledore, Deathly Hallows costume changes, Harry returns to Hogwarts, The Hogwarts Shield, Room of Requirement set, The Fiery Escape, Final farewells from cast and crew, When Harry left Hogwarts, The Goblins of Gringotts, The Women of Harry Potter, Deleted Scenes, Neville’s Stand, Molly takes down Bellatrix, Pottermore Preview, Warner Bros London Studios Tour.