Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
One of the most successful and lucrative film franchises draws to a close after ten years with this eighth film in the epic Harry Potter series. The adaptation of final novel was split into two parts, although some cynically thought the decision was made on a purely financial basis. Steve Kloves, who has written all but one of the Potter films, has again adapted JK Rowling’s epic novel for the screen, and has remained slavishly loyal to the source, right down to the rather unnecessary coda set 19 years later, which hints at another generation of Potter stories.
This film neatly wraps up many of the subplots and character arcs that have been woven through the last few films. Fittingly, many characters from the previous films put in a brief appearance here, and if you’ve not read the books or seen the films then you may take a while to get your bearings.
After the slow build up and navel gazing that occupied much of Part 1, Part 2 quickly gets down to business, and contains some superbly staged and genuinely exciting action sequences. Hogwarts is under siege from Voldemort’s army of Death Eaters. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his loyal friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are still on their mission to locate and destroy the horcruxes that supposedly contain parts of Voldemort’s soul and are the key to destroying him. This takes them into the heart of the Gringott’s Bank and on to Hogwart’s for the final showdown with Voldemort.
This is easily the darkest, most bleak, visceral and violent film in the series, and is not suitable for younger audiences. A number of familiar characters get killed off in this battle between the forces of good and evil. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 marks David Yates’ fourth film in the series as director, and he has a familiarity with the tone and look of this world of magic and wizardry. His pacing here seems much more urgent that in Part 1, and there are fewer flat moments.
The film deals with some universal themes like the ongoing struggle between good and evil, friendship, loyalty, courage, sacrifice, death and loss. We learn more about Harry’s origins and the death of his parents, but we also learn some secrets about the enigmatic Professor Snape that changes our perceptions of past events.
Fans have made an enormous emotional investment in these characters over the years, and this film doesn’t disappoint. The performances of the three young leads in particular have grown in depth and emotional range over the series, and they now more than hold their own with the seasoned professionals who populate the cast. Even Matthew Lewis finally comes into his own as the once awkward, nerdy Neville finds courage and plays a heroic role in the fierce struggle.
The contributions of veterans Maggie Smith, who was apparently unwell at the time, and Alan Rickman are first class. Ralph Fiennes is malevolent as Potter’s nemesis, and while his presence has cast a large shadow over previous films, he gets plenty of screen time here. Ciaran Hinds puts in a brief appearance as Dumbledore’s brother, while Dumbledore himself (Michael Gambon) appears in flashbacks and dream sequences. A lot of British actors will be looking elsewhere for regular film work now that this series has ended.
As the series has developed over the years, the special effects have grown more elaborate and sophisticated, and Part 2 has some of the best special effects driven sequences in the series.
The film also comes in a 3D version, and while it is obvious some sequences have been designed with this process in mind, the retrofitted format actually adds little to the film itself. The Harry Potter 3D glasses are cute though!