It’s finally here! Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2! The last Harry Potter film I ever have to write a review for. I’m not saying I dislike the series, some of the films (including this one) are actually pretty enjoyable. I’m just glad that after watching and reviewing 8 similar films in a row I will be able to leave this behind me now. I’m gonna go all arthouse on you guys after this I promise. Anyway, It’s Potter time!
The Harry potter film franchise is possibly one of the biggest undertakings in cinematic history. I know there are franchises that have run longer, and there are series with much more flash and higher level of production values, there’s no denying any of that. What makes Harry Potter stand out is that it’s a massive series of films with a definitive start and finish. There’s been a few genuine trilogies out there (Just because a series has 3 films doesn’t make it a trilogy) but even the Star Wars movies, currently, aren’t spread over 8 parts with a beginning and an end. It’s taken somewhere in the realm of $1.1 billion to make and has dragged in, via box office alone, currently $6.4 billion. That’s likely to jump up by a billion by the time this films done. It’s an impressive stat. there’s a lot of people out there that love a bit of Potter. You only had to glance at the 30-odd screenings the film had at the cinema I went to tonight to see that. And yes my screen was packed.
The series as a whole has been a little shaky on quality but I wouldn’t say that any one film is truly a bad film. At worst they are average, the last 2 being prime examples of that. Thankfully Deathly Hallows Part 2 manages to bring back the energy that was present in Goblet of Fire and Order Of The Phoenix. That’s exactly what this film needed. It needed to be a large scale action film and it does manage that quite well.
The plot carries right on from the end of Part 1 with Voldemort acquiring the Elder Wand that just so happened to belong to Dumbledore. Harry Ron and Hermione are now on the trail of the remaining Horcruxes and quickly have their first lead. As the film goes on Horcruxes are destroyed, Hogwarts get’s it’s arse kicked and evil does evil things. There’s even time for perennial whipping boy Neville Longbottom to stand up and be a bit of a badass. The film flies along as a brisk pace and there really is little time wasting.
The fast pace does have it’s drawback though. Afraid to slow the film down at any point somewhere along the line the Writers and Director (David Yates) decided to not spend too much time with the ancillary characters in Potter’s world. Other than Voldemort, Snape and Neville no one really get’s that much screen time. As a result of this once the Battle of Hogwarts starts up characters just start appearing randomly with no explanation. Characteristically the weirdest was Luna’s appearance at the school. They leave her at the Order of the Phoenix’s safe house where the last film ended, go destroy a Horcrux, and upon arrival at the school she’s there. Why isn’t explained. You’d think after being prisoner to Bellatrix Lestrange and having escaped from there the last place she’d want to go is Hogwarts. I guess she just really wanted to be at the final battle. Which also makes me wonder why any of the kids would return to the school for this year. Surely with all the evil going on you’d want to avoid anywhere Harry might be. But then I guess they all really wanted to be at the final battle. Obviously their parents are all for their children’s potential deaths.
The characters that do get a bit more time do get a chance to shine, particularly Alan Rickman’s Snape who, in true JK Rowling style, (SPOILERS BTW) gets his chance to redeem himself and provides Harry with the piece of the puzzle he was missing. The trouble is you could always second guess Snapes true alignment, it being pretty clear why he killed Dumbledore, so this “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” moment does have a certain whiff of predictability. But if you’re not used to that trope in these films by now then you probably won’t notice it here. The don’t judge a book by it’s cover theme runs through every single moment of the Harry Potter series. not a single character get’s a chance to be who they started out as barring a few. The whole series is about prejudice and freewill, even if it does handle these subjects somewhat clumsily.
The action sequences in Deathly Hallows Part 2 are pretty decent with a few genuinely memorable moments such as the troll battle against an army of living statues. There’s a ton of wand dueling handled with the same energy that made the final duel in Order Of The Phoenix work so well. I will be honest though, seeing the Quidditch stadium getting burned to the ground did bring a smile to my face. So often these films have used Quidditch as the centre piece for it’s action. It was getting real tired. Using it so often would be like having a Pod race sequence in every Star Wars prequel and then adding them in to the real Star Wars films. By the way, I have no idea what I’m gonna say about the Star Wars prequels when they come out on Blu-ray that Plinkett hasn’t already said.
Performances are as strong as you’d expect from the series with Rickman and the main three kids showing the most range. Dunno if I should be calling them kids now. They’re still younger than me. Maybe whippersnappers is more appropriate. Special effects are also among the best in the series. You can certainly see where the money was spent, unlike with The Half-Blood Prince. I didn’t view this in 3D because, as is mostly the case, F*** 3D, but there was noticeably a lot more stuff flying towards and around the characters and a lot more depth to some of the shots than was usually employed in previous action sequences. I do suspect that the reason 3D was canceled for Part 1 of this film was because there would have been almost nothing to justify it. People milling about in the woods is dull no matter how many dimensions it is in.
Overall the film is a fun action fantasy film that has a very quick pace. There really is little wasted motion. It’s odd then that in a series that has quite often wasted a lot of time with clumsy storytelling and obscenely long running times for what they are that this film, the shortest, could have done with a few extra minutes of dialogue. It’s the small holes in the logic as to the why and how of multiple characters and props appearing that cause you to question the logic of the film at multiple times. It’s also a somewhat by the numbers finale possibly relying too much on tired tropes and formulas. That doesn’t stop it being enjoyable though and I’d easily rank it among the top three in the series.
Right, I’m done now. Tomorrow, if you behave yourselves, I might review something very different but at the same time linked. What could it be?