Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2
Released: 15th July 2011
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter
Distributor: Warner Bros
Running Time: 130 mins
We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of the Harry Potter franchise, the oldest in cinematic history. Black-clad students march through the grey grounds of Hogwarts and Severus Snape, the new headmaster, surveys the proceedings from a tower, looking paler and gaunter than ever. The finale has finally begun and if part one was the road movie, this is most certainly the war movie.
Wholly justifying the need for the slow build-up, there is no opportunity to spend any more leisure time with Harry, Ron and Hermione – it’s action from the opening. We’re plunged straight into a bank heist – with the aid of a highly convincing CGI dragon – and continuing the hunt for hidden horcruxes. It’s an unrelenting race to the finish line.
“Man the boundaries, protect us!” Professor McGonagall hollers as stone knights spring to action and students scurry to their stations. It’s a moment that will make any fan’s gooses well and truly bumped. The odds are overwhelming: the professors and their pupils against Death Eaters, Dementors, giants and gigantic spiders. It’s Harry’s fate that matters, though, and this is the first instalment that has reduced his closest allies Hermione and Ron to supporting cast, and the supporting cast to fleeting cameos.
It’s just a pity that Radcliffe’s performance is so stunted. Each line is spat through gritted teeth, clumsily applying the same approach to each emotion. The more experienced actors carry him through, with Ralph Fiennes playing a marvellously mad Voldemort who genuinely wants this bespectacled boy obliterated. He’s more threatening than ever, even when silently striding amongst lifeless bodies, blood glistening on his alabaster feet.
The special effects rival those of The Return Of The King and when the Dark Lord’s army attack the fortress of spells cast around Hogwarts, magic has never seemed so real. This film is the first in the series to be rendered entirely in 3D and feels every bit worth the ticket price. The extra dimension adds to the epic feeling of the battle where the stakes are high and the story is merciless, yet some demises are tragically overlooked here. Mrs Weasley’s showdown with one of the most notorious villains is given little screen time and come the brink of the credits, the crushing sadness of the entire spectacle is wiped away as quick as a single brush of a hand against a tear.
Faithful to the books until the last, there’s also some hurried screen snogs. Ginny and Harry’s relationship needs to go back to Charm class, serving as a brief aside rather than any sort of brewing romance that could believably end up in marriage and children. Hermione and Ron fair better, but it’s Snape’s expository flashback that provides one of the most tragically heartfelt moments of the movie. Alan Rickman portrays young Snape’s anguished story with expert aplomb.
Joy, grief, shock; the emotions pour thick and fast for the whole event and leave you an exhausted whimpering wreck. For those who bought a cinema ticket every year for a decade – this is the best yet. No more books, no more movies. And although the frequent pointing at chest cavities to remind us that the dead are always in our hearts brought a whiff of cheese to the proceedings, it’s true that Harry Potter will remain in the hearts of many a muggle for years after the posters have been Avada Kedavra’d from the billboards. A fitting epitaph for the Boy Who Lived.