Although I defended and enjoyed “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”, I also said that it was really impossible to review half a film. I needed to see the second half of this adventure before I could review the story as a whole. So I was approaching part 2 as a) the conclusion to the first film and b) a film in it’s own right.
So let’s address the first point, how does “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” rate as a complete film (part 1 and 2 combined)? The first half is a little bloated and could have been trimmed by half an hour, but as a whole film it is a pretty compelling story that brings the story arc of Harry Potter to a satisfying conclusion.
As for the second point, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” is an exciting thrill ride. Warner Bros and Heyday Films have definitely saved the best for last. Unfortunately if you just dip into this film alone, with no prior films under your belt, you will be completely lost. Director David Yates moves swiftly and expects you to know who’s who and what has happened in previous films. I don’t hold this against him however, considering that ten years have passed since the first film. If Yates had to recap the previous films he would have to add an hour to the running time at least, J. K. Rowling’s world is complex and textured and a lot has happened since Harry came to Hogwarts. The long and the short of it is, watch the previous films before watching “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”. You can short cut this a little by at least watching the David Yates films, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”. This will give you enough to understand what is going on in this film but it is an even richer experience if you watch it from the beginning.
For the final chapter we pick up from the last shot of part 1 and just hit the ground running. Harry, Ron and Hermione are still trying to find the last few Horcruxes to bring an end to Lord Voldemort. After a daring raid on Gringott’s bank the trio find themselves back at Hogwarts, now under the control of Severus Snape. Harry and company must find the last couple of Horcruxes and fight you know who in a battle that is as huge and impressive as the book promised it would be. The thing I have loved about the David Yates films has been his ability to handle large set piece action scenes while still stopping every now and again to reflect and handle quieter scenes that pack a an emotional punch without getting overly sentimental.
The films, like the young wizards have grown up over the last ten years and it is really interesting to compare the naive simplicity of the first film (a definite kid’s film) to the mature and dark final chapter (definitely not a kid’s film). Like the readers of the books and viewers of the films, Harry Potter grew up. I remember when the book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” came out, it caused such a stir that Rowling had killed a character off. Her defence (and it was a good one) was that young adults need to learn about death and loss. This all seems a little weird now when you watch the body count in “Deathly Hallows Part 2” grow.
Eduardo Serra’s steely cold cinematography really helps set the tone to both parts of “Deathly Hallows” and contrasts it so nicely against the colourful, cheerful first film. The effects have also come a long way since the first film and the battle of Hogwarts is truly spectacular. I should also mention that part 2 is presented in 3D in selective cinemas. The film is a post conversion 3D film but it is a very effective and well done conversion. Part 1 was also supposed to be in 3D but they were not happy with the finished product and didn’t want to rush it like they did with “Clash of the Titans” so they scrapped the 3D at the last minute opting to spend the extra time to get part 2 right and it works well.
Let’s just take a moment to talk about the performances from this young cast. I have always loved the casting in this series and felt that Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have grown as performers. Particularly Emma Watson who started the series as stereotype snooty, uptight little know it all but has become a fine actress and I look forward to future films in her career. The supporting cast has always been made up of a who’s who of British cinema and everyone seems to be having such a wonderful time playing in Rowing’s sandbox.
Overall, I loved this film, just make sure you watch “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” on DVD or Blu-Ray just before you go to the cinema. I think it is the perfect conclusion to an epic series of films. If you are a fan of the books or not you will be satisfied that they got the end of this series right. And like “The Lord of the Rings” before it, now it is over, I am going to miss the yearly Harry Potter event.
– David McVay