Film fans of all ages have been following the magical life of Harry Potter for 10 years now (yes, it really has been that long since the first one), with Warner Bros. bringing to life a series of monumentally successful books and producing what is now the most financially successful film franchise in history.
It’s been a long, tumultuous journey for Harry, Ron and Hermione but this is it, it all ends here, with the concluding part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Does it disappoint? Thankfully not as Part 2 delivers a fittingly epic conclusion to this story but also some great emotional moments which pay off some plot threads which have run throughout the series.
By now if you’re a fan of the series you pretty much know what this last one is about, but as a quick refresher: Harry, Ron, Hermione and everyone else on the “good” side finally have to battle against the evil Lord Voldermort (this business of not saying his name no longer applies since he’s going to kill people either way, as one character funnily points out) and finally defeat him once and for all by destroying the different parts of his soul he’s hidden in various objects known as “Horcruxes.”
If (like me) you were underwhelmed by the slow Part 1 (explain to me again they spent an hour of that film in the woods in a tent?) then Part 2 will most definitely not disappoint. Despite a relatively slow-paced opening, which eases us into things in a very welcome way, once it gets going Part 2 is all you could hope for and more from the franchise ending, with a grandiose showdown which uses, in one form or another, a lot of those much loved characters from films past. For the more astute adult viewers you will spend at least some of the time picking out the legion of (some returning, some new) British thespians including David Thewlis, John Hurt, Warwick Davis and an unrecognisable Ciaran Hinds (see if you can spot him).
This being the shortest of all eight films (a record previously held by Order of the Phoenix) and with a forward momentum unlike any other, Deathly Hallows Part 2 moves a long at a pleasingly quick pace, rarely stopping in its tracks for any unnecessary scenes. Even the scenes in between the huge spectacle which focus more on emotion than anything else feel perfectly natural. While some of the rest of the films in the franchise felt every bit as long as they actually were (not that that’s always a bad thing, mind you), even at 130 minutes this one doesn’t feel that lengthy. Then again maybe that had something to do with the fact that it packs just about as much action into its runtime than all of the rest of the movies combined.
What’s been great about this franchise is the fact that it gets darker and more adult with each successive film, essentially growing up right alongside the passionate viewers. It was Alfonso Cuaron (director of one of my personal favourites of the series, Prisoner of Azkaban) who first took the franchise from child’s play into a more serious territory, and from then on things have felt more and more dangerous as the franchise has progressed. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is logically, then, the darkest of the whole series and rightfully so. Long gone are the days of staring dumb-founded at magic frogs, floating candles and moving paintings and the like – you can truly feel a real sense of danger and impending doom. But director David Yates (who has directed the last four movies) and writer Steve Kloves (writer of all films in the series except Order of the Phoenix) manages to take that darkness and make it entertaining and exciting instead of just moody and depressing.
The only real problem of note that I had with Deathly Hallows Part 2 (other issues are essentially nitpicks which you can overlook quite easily) was a scene in which a vital plot point is explained. I won’t go into details so as to not spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (or read the books) but let’s just say something we thought happened for one reason actually happened for a different reason. And the film takes time out for this 5-10 minute explanation which feels forced and just jammed in there in order to move things forward. Don’t get me wrong it’s a necessary plot point for what comes afterwards but the way they chose to include it didn’t entirely work, and it’s the only moment where something felt out of place.
However, in spite of that one bump in the road Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a fitting conclusion to the franchise in just about every way, providing huge, extremely well put together battle sequences with some terrific emotional beats which will resonate with fans of the films and, I imagine, even more so with those who love the books. For those who haven’t read the books there are some truly shocking twists and turns along the way, and a send-off which should have true fans weeping. For all the build-up and hype I’m relieved to say that the conclusion as a whole delivers immensely, making for the best film of the entire franchise.
A true end of an era.