Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Directed By: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, John Hurt, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Devon Murray, Bonnie Wright, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Oliver Phelps, James Phelps, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane
After ten years and seven films, it’s a near impossible task to wrap up the Harry Potter franchise. As someone who’s never read the books, I sat down for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 expecting to say goodbye to the gang in their graves or living happily ever after. Ultimately, the piece does find an appropriate spot on that spectrum, making for a great series conclusion. Then again, that’s great as compared to something that I hoped would be excellent – just short of excellent that is.
Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are back and in the midst of their Horcrux hunt. With Griphook (Warwick Davis) the goblin’s reluctant assistance, the trio infiltrates Bellatrix Lestrange’s (Helena Bonham Carter) vault at Gringotts where they suspect yet another Horcrux containing a piece of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul hides. From there, it’s on to track down and destroy the remaining items, both of which are suspected to be at Hogwarts.
The trio arrives back at school to find Snape (Alan Rickman) has assumed the late Albus Dumbledore’s (Michael Gambon) position. Once Harry arrives, Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Neville (Matthew Lewis), Ginny (Bonnie Wright) and all of his old Hogwarts pals abandon their efforts to simply submit to their new headmaster’s oppressive regime and join Harry to fight back. Soon thereafter, Voldemort arrives, massive army in tow, and the Battle of Hogwarts begins.
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 gets off to a slow start, but in a beautiful way. Rather than beginning with a scene driven by magical action we get two very somber and very authentic conversations, one between Harry and Griphook and the other with Ollivander (John Hurt) of Ollivander’s Wand Shop. Sure, sparks don’t literally fly in either, but these are two moments that pack an impeccable amount of power courtesy of noteworthy performances.
From there, it’s back to the action as Harry, Ron, Hermione and Griphook execute their plan to snag the Horcrux from Bellatrix’s vault. Sure, the moment is packed with some glorious CGI and an amusing performance from Bonham Carter, as Hermione is posing as Bellatrix as part of the plan, but otherwise, the sequence comes across as a mere stepping stone to get to the good stuff – the Battle of Hogwarts.
Once the stars are back at school, that’s when things pick up, big time. In fact from that point on, the action is rather relentless in the best way possible. There are quite a handful of impressive action sequences including one during which Ron, Hermione and Harry desperately try to escape a raging fire and a bridge collapse courtesy of Seamus’ (Devon Murray) pyrotechnic skills. Thanks to so many years of character development, these moments come to mean much more than a stellar showing of CGI as there’s something incredibly rousing about seeing the gang stand up and fight.
It’s exceedingly rewarding to see Professor McGonagall do some major damage, and enjoy it, after so many years of keeping a low profile. And while we did see Neville join in on the action in past films, this one in particular showcases what he’s capable of and lets him have some fun while doing it. Without spoiling anything, the Malfoys, manage to leave one heck of a mark before the series concludes as well.
But, of course, the stars of the film are Harry, Ron, Hermione and Voldemort, and even after all of these years, there’s still room to make strides and all four actors seize the opportunity. With the help of an ever-growing story, Radcliffe, Watson, Grint and Fiennes continue to unveil new elements of their characters while keeping in tact everything they’ve established over the past seven films, making their changes all the more powerful. Even after butting heads in the past, Ron and Hermione deliver an entirely digestible romantic connection while never taking it out of the confines of the grander event. As for Voldemort, Fiennes makes him as threatening as ever while still suggesting his existence is weakening. Harry is forced to recognize a disturbing truth that Radcliffe manages with grace, successfully conveying the impact of the news as well as its potential repercussions, significantly increasing the tension.
While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’s certainly concluded the series on a high note, it does come with two drawbacks; it’s rather confusing for folks who haven’t read the books and the emotion could have been taken a bit further. As for the first point, Part 2 reveals quite a bit of information that has a great effect on just about everything we’ve experienced since the first film hit on November 16th 2001. It’s a lot to digest, especially while so much is happening in the immediate moment. Speaking of the current situation, there are also a few issues here that aren’t as clear as they could be. One specific instance comes to mind that could throw a viewer’s perception of the plot off entirely courtesy of a semi- unintelligible line of dialogue.
Lastly, perhaps hopes were just too high, but overall, the film wasn’t as rousing as suspected. Sure, you’ll feel sad when characters meet their demise, but at this point, an occurrence of that nature should at least cause you to well up rather than emit a simple sigh. This isn’t a time to shy away from death and destruction for the sake of a few quick laughs, rather to pack on the melodrama, as these people we’ve grown to know and love deserve that kind of emotional reaction.
Regardless, like the other seven films of the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is an incredibly well made film and enjoyable production. While it’s certainly worthy of capping off this wildly successful series, it does fall slightly short of being completely satisfying. Then again, this is a decade’s worth of material here, so the fact that it’s fulfilling in the least is an outstanding and praiseworthy accomplishment.