Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

This is it then: The last stand. The final conflict. The end of an 'ero. After 1,178 minutes of screen time over eight films in ten years, with over six billion greenbacks in the bank and four trillion different posters littering the internet, Harry Potter And The Remarkable Franchise is finally over. Unless of course you count the DVD and Blu-ray re-releases that'll pop up every five years, the inevitable theatrical re-release of the entire series in 3D and the 2024 reboot starring Justin Bieber's son.

For now, though, the final film is where it's at, and like every single other Harry Potter film, it's flawed, confusing, frustrating and occasionally unwatchable. And, like every single other Harry Potter film, it's completely brilliant.
It seems churlish and mean-spirited to bang on about the series' faults, but let's be honest: they're not perfect examples of cinematic storytelling, and Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is no different. Unless you passed your N.E.W.T. in Rowlingology, considerable chunks of plot will go flying over your head like a badly-aimed quaffle. The whole horcruxes / deathly hallows thread is still all over the place, Dumbledore's brother bimbles through one scene with little to no effect despite having taken up acres of paper in the novel and Snape's crucial backstory is rattled through at such a pace that it feels more like an aide-mémoire than the pivotal reveal it should be.

Plenty of characters get short shrift in this film too: Helena Bonham Carter's in several scenes but doesn't speak a word of dialogue (actually no bad thing), and at least one character has nothing more to do than they did in the trailer except to lie very still on the floor, their appearance coming across as contractual rather than necessary.
A lot of potentially great moments also get fumbled in the rush to cram everything in, the worst offender being a certain long-awaited kiss, which comes out of nowhere and is unforgivably badly shot.

Nevertheless, most of these niggles are flattened under the weight of the sheer amount of fun being had up on screen and, fumbled fumbles aside, how truly astonishing this film looks. Director David Yates and cinematographer Eduardo Serra nail the visual tone here even more so than Alfonso Cuarón did with Prisoner Of Azkaban. The metallic sheen that renders the battle of Hogwarts almost monochromatic lends a stark and elegant contrast to each explosion of fire or blast of magic.
Too lovely to ruin with a stoopid caption

It's also undeniable how completely the wizarding world drags the viewer in: like all the best fantasy films, once the titles have been and gone it's impossible to think about the world outside the screen. It's this aspect (almost entirely down to the genius of JK Rowling), combined with arguably modern cinema's greatest visual and sound effects work, that allows you to forgive the film its flaws and get carried along with all the nonsense as if you were riding on the back of Gringotts' vault-guarding dragon.

The less said about the coda the better, although if you thought it was pointless in the book then the film isn't going to win you over at all, and it's fair to say that nobody involved in it comes off well. You have to question the wisdom of casting the same actor as an older version of their character when there are plenty of other people out there who could do a more convincing job.
And, of course, it goes without saying that blah blah pointless 3D blah blah.

Anyway, now that it's all over I can finally look back and place all the Potter films in order of greatness. I know you've been waiting for this and I've spent yonks deliberating, so I'm proud to finally declare the following:
Soz HBP.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with this review, particularly the critique - as such, I have linked your post in my own review :D

  2. The whole film was ruined for me because of the stupid and unnecessary changes they made in the final battle. Voldemort and Harry fist-fighting? They're flying around Hogwarts? No-one watches? No circling one another inside the circle of people Harry saved? And intercut with stupid added snake action? That was so utterly bad and Hollywood formula that I just cannot believe JKR allowed it.
    Oh and before that they added Harry meeting Ron and Hermione on his way to the forest. "I'm going off to die..." - "Oh righty, cheers mate!" (Sounds of making out) - Do they even think, when they script these scenes?

  3. This film really excelled in the special effects department, and I actually think the 3D helped to make it more epic and really give life to the magic.
    It a testament to how much all the characters affect you that even after sitting through a 2 hour battle you are left thinking, "What about this person, where was he, what happened to her". There are just far too many characters to give each one a fair portrayal. I always liked Luna but you see her for all of 2 seconds. I wish they skipped the whole Gringotts-come-to-harry-potter-world-rollercoaster ride and spent the time showing more familiar characters. All we got of Lupin was a few wand wiggles before he was off screen.

    It was a great way to end the series. There were loads of little "gifts" that we got rewarded with as long-term watchers, like Molly Weasley showing her skills and Snape's wonder years. Hopefully they'll leave it a few decades before we got some awful spin-off series.