It's time for Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) to confront his arch nemesis Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), in one final fight, as the young wizard discovers the real reason behind the dark lord's tireless quest to destroy him.
Well that's it then. Seven books, eight films, ten years and some rather enormous fortunes for those involved later, and the phenomena that is Harry Potter is over. It certainly went out making its presence felt, but in my opinion, though there were explosions aplenty, a few deaths, and everyone inevitably ended up with who they should, I felt it ended with more of a fizz than a bang.
The way Rowling's magical world is brought to the screen is undoubtedly impressive. However beneath the fire breathing dragons, the crumbling walls and the bleak landscapes of this Armageddon-like finale, there is no real substance.
The point is I'm not a child, and once you strip away the pyrotechnics and special effects, that is what you are left with. A child's story. I'm not saying Rowling's imagination isn't up there with fantasy fiction's best but, let's be honest here, she's no Tolkien (or even Lewis for that matter). A bit like Agatha Christie is in the world of crime, Rowling's themes and storyline, not her prose, were what hooked fans and kept them turning the pages, or eagerly anticipating the next celluloid installment.
She is also, like it or not, not adverse to a little bit of a literary theft. Much of her imagery, particularly in this last installment, hints at that of those other two great fantasists whom I've just mentioned. Here the final stand of Hogwarts has more than an air of the battles of Middle Earth, with giant spiders, trolls and legions of the dark master's minions clamoring to obey his every command. And how about the distinctly Gandalf-ish reappearance by Dumbledore, complete with grey gowns and wispy beard. Then we have the real strength of a wand being what's hidden within it. Read Lewis's 'The Magician's Nephew' (in my opinion the best of his Narnian cycle) and there is definitely something familiar about the rings with their internal strength which transport Digory and Polly to worlds beyond their wildest imagination. Now it's not a big thing to 'borrow' after all the Bible itself says in Ecclesiastes that 'there is nothing new under the sun'. But neither I think can Rowling claim any great originality.
The lack of any real depth is also visible in one other main area. You would think that over a ten year period the acting of Radcliffe and co would have matured. But, though they're all visibly older, their thespian skills on the most part aren't much better than you'd expect from your local dramatic society. It takes the older stars to bring the scenes to life, and frankly no-one even comes close to Maggie Smith who effortlessly casts her magic over everyone even without her wand. It's well documented that the young cast members are finding it difficult out there in muggledom. However I guess we forget sometimes, having seen them grow up before our eyes, that they are all only in their early twenties (a time when most people are still getting their first big break). So who knows, their best may still be to come.
I said at the start that it was over - but is it? I've read all the books but the last one, so the end came as a bit of a surprise to me. It was actually quite nice in a warm way (I thought it was one of the best parts of the film), and I'd say it definitely leaves room for more. If Rowling really does write, as she says, because she loves the craft not the monetary rewards, I doubt she'll be able to stop herself!
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part II is out now.