Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Friday, 22 July 2011

Reviews: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Harry battles for the final time
It all ends, not with a whimper, but with a dazzling blast

Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman & Maggie Smith
Plot: The hour is dark indeed, and Harry, Ron and Hermione still have many Horcruxes to destroy in their seemingly impossible quest to vanquish Voldemort. As they continue, and Voldemort becomes more aware of their efforts, a final battle becomes inevitable.

And so, it all ends. After ten years, eight films and (almost certainly) over $7bn worth of worldwide box office, the greatest film franchise of modern times is finally complete, and it ends with an incredible bang. Though the first part of this last instalment was a solid enough but trudging affair, the second part is an almighty blast of action and emotion, neatly tying up the loose ends, bringing catharsis and generating cheers, applause and tears in audiences everywhere.

Director David Yates held back from having a proper battle at the end of the sixth film, not wanting to make the climax of this book underwhelming on screen. He needn’t have worried. This entire film is, essentially, one big battle, with an extra action sequence tacked on to the beginning for good measure.
Yates carries it off with aplomb. Everything is expertly paced and supremely gripping. The opening raid on Gringotts is fun, but what follows is spectacular. The last battle at Hogwarts looks stunning, from a shawl of protection being cast over the school, shimmering as it descends across huge vistas, to the dawn-light bringing the sight of Hogwarts in ruins. Shots like those made me intrigued as to how the film looked in IMAX. Through all of it, I could see not reason to see it in 3D. It wasn’t made for 3D and it doesn’t need it.

The Death Eaters in battle mode
As usual, the great and the good of British talent are there, and this time they aren’t holding back in any way. Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort comes into his own, whilst Maggie Smith rather steals the first hour, whether it is in delivering the best joke in the series or duelling with Alan Rickman. And what of Rickman himself? His Snape continues to slither and sneer across the screen, but when Snape’s great moment comes (a beautiful flashback sequence) Rickman wrenches the heart as well.

The central three are, strangely, not required to do an awful lot of acting for the most part, given that there is much more running, shouting and fighting to be done. Ron and Hermione are handled well when they do what they have to do, but it is Harry who is the ultimate focus and, whilst Radcliffe is not an awe-inspiring screen presence, he is pretty good in the heat of the maelstrom, though, when the last chapter is adapted (and, yes, it is as cringe-worthy as it is in the book) he struggles a little.

However, though there is heart in this film, it is not what ultimately prevails in the memory, because this is tremendous fun and the simple adrenaline and spectacle of it all is what stays with you. Two villainous demises drew rounds of applause at my screening, and there is delight in little references from the canon being slipped in here and there, and old characters coming into their own, such as Matthew Lewis’ Neville Longbottom.

Then, it really does all come to an end. And so, what of it? I can remember the sense of excitement about going to see the first film all those years ago, and, though it took a while, the series eventually matured, found its feet and matched those expectations. There isn’t a genuinely great film amongst the eight, though Azkaban came closest, but the saga as a whole has been thoroughly well put together and the weight of it all shall give it a long life, perhaps for generations to come.

1 comment:

  1. A review consisting of constant praise for acting, effects, action, emotional impact, humour and audience approval with one tiny mention of a negative (basically the last chapter of the book) - and this film gets 4 out of 5?

    Surely this deserved a critical review?
    Why shouldn't it be 5 out of 5?
    What is it in this film that doesn't give it your 'great' status? Is 4 out of 5 not great?
    If Azkaban was better than this - would Azkaban be 4.5 or 5 out of 5, surely then this is 'great'?!

    The review is bland nothingness.

    (In addition, your font underneath the pictures are different sizes)