Friday, 15 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) (2011) - David Yates

(N.B I have kept this review spoiler free for anyone not familiar with the plot)

And so it ends.  After eight long films, the series reaches its climactic final installment.  But does it live up to the hype?


But then, with hype at astronomical levels it was never going to.  What it is, is a totally fitting end to the series in the best and worst senses.

With each successive installment, the films have got darker and Deathly Hallows (Part 2) is the darkest of the lot - a film that centres squarely on death.  And the 'Part 2' in the title is highly significant, starting literally where Part 1 ended.  Individually each film feels unsatisfying - it will only be when both films are out on DVD that we can watch the full narrative unfold as originally intended.

And as a result of being essentially half a film, it does suffer from pacing issues.  After a slow start (and a slightly underwhelming set-piece involving a dragon) the film whips by pretty quickly, missing out moments from the book and not quite giving all the characters the screen time they deserve.  This, however, is the curse of the book-film and something that fans have had to contend with all series.  Hey, we're used to it by now - but that doesn't mean we can't still complain.

It does remain totally faithful to its source material though and delivers a thrilling story that is exciting with every twist and turn - the film's emotional core, involving a certain Professor, is played to perfection.  The art direction is sensational, with a coldly realised Hogwarts destroyed in sensational fashion.  Despite being so dark it's practically black and white, there are colourful moments aplenty - particularly with some incredibly inventive spell effects.  This applies to the script as well, filled with comic one-liners.  The majority of the film takes place within the 'Battle of Hogwarts', forming a spectacular backdrop to the action that can only be described as epic.  The performances are mostly limited, both in terms of screen time for some and acting ability for others.  But it's never less than utterly enjoyable - a magical end to the series.

Except it doesn't quite end where it should.  Just as the book's epilogue threatened to ruin the entire series in one fell swoop, the film's final scene almost undoes all of Yates' hard work.  It's a sickening and unnecessary finale, with the minimally made-up threesome looking mildly paedophilic.

So then, the eighth film is as magical yet flawed as the rest.  Haters will continue to hate; fans will forgive the flaws and love it endlessly.  I fall in the latter camp.

Now don't mind me, I'm off to re-read the whole series and relive my youth.