So here it is, the first of our official reviews of the 8th and final Harry Potter movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. I’m sure that you’ll have guessed this already, but the review will contain spoilers from the movie. However, you’ve probably all read the book anyway so you already know the ending!
For those who can remember, my review of Part 1 was somewhat negative, and my following podcasts even more so. Furthermore, I was (and remain) a big fan and supporter of the original books and as such, the film adaptions have never quite lived up to the hype for me. I have always left the cinema feeling various degrees of disappointment. So here is my review for Deathly Hallows – Part 2 summarised in one word: delicious.
We were expecting an epic Hogwarts battle in Half-Blood Prince and instead we got Death Eaters sneaking in and sneaking out. We expected more action in Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and instead we got prolonged camping. We expected an all-out war in Part 2 that shook both the bricks of Hogwarts and our hearts as we mourned for our fallen heroes and cheered for defeated foes. We got one. We got everything. The drama; the tension; the delight; the agony; the battle; and the victory. Everything. The story begins as Harry and co begin to break into Gringotts to steal the Horcrux hidden in Bellatrix’ vault. After a narrow escape on the dragon, the trio quickly make their way into Hogsmeade and then into Hogwarts. Within 30 minutes, the action begins and maintains relentlessly until Voldemort’s demise some 80 minutes later. This film is the shortest of the series, running for 130 minutes but this if anything, is a positive feature. The filmmakers included everything they needed to and for a film that focuses so predominantly on action, 2 hours was just ample time.
My biggest concern with Part 1 was the substandard acting, particularly from Daniel Radcliffe. I stated that he doesn’t have the artistic pedigree to actually sustain any form of clarity or credibility during scenes when the tension is particularly ripe. Furthermore, he was on his own for the first time in the series and not cushioned by a seasoned cast. This is not a concern with Part 2. The fast-paced action removes any need for deep meaningful dialog, and action in general is something that Dan has always been able to perform very well. What’s more, the full (and extremely) talented cast return to bring a level of dignity to the series that has been lacking until now. Helena Bonham Carter is as sadistic as ever, yet shows her skill and craft for acting when she portrays Hermione (disguised as Bellatrix due to the Polyjuice Potion) as the nervous yet disgusted character that she truthfully was in the book at that point in time. Maggie Smith fans will be delighted to watch McGonagall deliver not only some of the best duelling in the movie, but also bringing some comic relief and motherly love to what otherwise is essentially an orgy of testosterone. On the other hand, I (along with everyone in the cinema) was delighted to watch Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) destroy Bellatrix in a way that was identical to the book. From the wizard duelling to that famous line about protecting her daughter… you know the one.
However, from a sheer acting point of view, there was one person that towered over the rest of the cast with a level of grace, charm and resolve that left you not only loving him but his character; Alan Rickman. Severus Snape exited the film in a manner that you can’t help but feel for. Rickman has angered very few critics with his performance throughout the series, but has waited until the final instalment to remind everyone of how a master of the trade delivers a truly magnificent portrayal of a character so damaged and yet, so great.
Alright, all this praise and positivity is a little uncharacteristic so let me point out a few complaints. Firstly, I don’t think the title is very accurate. Yes yes, I know the book was called “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, but this film would be better titled “Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Battle and the Death of Voldemort and the Not My Daughter You Bitch”, given the actual Hallows had no bearing whatsoever on the story and are barely referred to. The Invisibility Cloak once again remains notably absent throughout most of the movie and when the Resurrection Stone features at the end, it’s more of a “oh, there it is…” kind of moment. Similarly, the history of Albus Dumbledore, his quest for the Hallows, his family and his feud with Aberforth are cut too. The film refers to a non-canon relationship between Neville and Luna, which feels unnatural, and Harry and Ginny’s pairing still feels clunky at best. However, these are minor faults. They are not sufficient to detract from the overall enjoyment of the film and I wonder if bringing in more back story into an action-filled Part 2 would even be sensible in the first place.
As I said earlier, I have never positively reviewed a Harry Potter movie to date, and given how wrong I thought Warner Bros got Part 1, I was apprehensive to say the least. However, I needn’t have worried. Whether it was the writer (Steve Kloves), the producers (David Heyman and David Barron), the director (David Yates) or J.K. Rowling herself, everyone involved made sure that the biggest movie franchise of all time went out with one of the most delightful bits of filmmaking of all time.