Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2
Review by Rob Carnevale
THE eighth and final Harry Potter movie ends with both a bang and a whimper… but remains a strong and satisfying finish to the world’s biggest franchise.
Directed once again by David Yates (who first came on board for The Order of The Phoenix), the finale offers the required spectacle as well as a hefty emotional wallop from one of the more surprising sources (if you’ve not read JK Rowling’s novels).
What’s more, it vindicates the decision to split the final book into two films, even if The Deathly Hallows Part 1 still feels like a long and sometimes arduous march towards this climactic humdinger.
Part 2 picks up in the immediate aftermath of its predecessor, as Harry, Hermione and Ron (respectively Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) are forced to regroup in the wake of Dobbie’s death and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) appears more powerful than ever.
Refusing to rest on their laurels, however, the teenage wizards continue their quest to uncover and destroy all of the Horcrux’s required to kill Voldemort… the first of which requires them to break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at the Wizarding Bank Gringotts, thereby setting the scene for a breathtaking set piece involving underground caverns and an awakened dragon, which helps them make good their escape.
Thereafter, the countdown begins to the inevitable confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, as the dark wizard’s forces lay siege to Hogwarts and the truth behind various characters’ long term motives becomes clear.
Yates, for his part, expertly juggles the dramatic elements and revelations with the big battle as it unfolds, ensuring that the film moves along at a cracking pace without losing sight of the emotional effect on many of the characters.
For Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape, in particular, this involves some heart-rending revelations, thereby providing him with a suitable platform upon which to steal the show.
His big scene with Fiennes’ Voldemort is a terrific meeting of two great actors, while the true reasons behind his actions thus far are revealed in heartbreaking fashion. If anything, this is Rickman’s show.
But there’s also strong work put in during the long-awaited coming together of Potter and Voldemort, which can’t fail to stir the emotions as they unfold in often dramatic fashion. It’s good to see Fiennes finally getting some valuable screen time.
Likewise, Michael Gambon, whose Dumbledore also returns for some poignant scenes with Harry (along with Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black) in the midst of proceedings.
The final battle itself is as memorable as fans could have hoped for and perhaps even more so than the novel which, according to some, underwhelmed in narrative form. For it allows Yates and his formidable technical crew to throw everything at the screen – for giant spiders and trolls to stone knights (aka Hogwarts protectors), as well as all manner of wand-induced mayhem.
It’s a feast for the eyes that manages to stay gritty and exciting even if the deaths of some of the key players are allowed to take place off-screen.
Alas, not everything is perfect and as good as The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is, it falls just short of 5-star greatness.
For this, the central trio must shoulder some of the blame as their acting still comes up short when compared to the best that their similarly aged American counterparts have to offer (witness the forthcoming Super 8, or even David Schwimmer’s Trust).
Radcliffe, in particular, sometimes looks and feels too stagey when delivering the key moments (is it any coincidence that his best reviews are often reserved for the theatre?), thereby depriving young Harry of some great stand-alone moments of his own.
He’s comfortable alongside his more illustrious and experienced co-stars but never more than holds his own, a shortcoming that extends to both Watson and Grint.
Indeed, what feelings we have for these characters arguably stems from the fact they’ve been a part of our film-going lives for so long (a decade) than any amazing acting talent – although all have progressed since those early days of Chris Columbus’ franchise starters.
Yates, too, could have seized the opportunity to deliver some more notable death scenes to some of the key characters (we won’t reveal which ones) given the platform he has at his disposal, while the CGI-enhanced epilogue and final farewell feels superfluous and indulgent (despite being part of the novel) much in the same way that the Lord of the Rings final scenes did.
But criticisms aside, this is a fitting final bow for a much beloved film series that really does go out on a high. For once, this is a film that will deserve all the box office records that crumble in its wake given that it stands as a finale that everyone involved can be justifiably proud of.
Running time: 130mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 28, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Daniel Radcliffe interview
- Emma Watson interview
- Rupert Grint and Tom Felton interview
- Ralph Fiennes and Jason Isaacs interview
- Robbie Coltrane and Michael Gambon interview
- Warwick Davis and Helen McCrory interview
- David Heyman interview
- David Yates interview
- View Deathly Hallows Part 2 Character posters
- The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Photo Gallery
- Watch Deathly Hallows trailers
- Deathly Hallows Part 1 coverage