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The Potter series is finally over but boy does it go out with a bang. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 picks up right where the previous instalment left off and heads straight into two action packed hours of wand waving, dragon riding and Horcrux destroying.
It’s impossible to describe just how much this franchise means to fans across the globe and the final film really should be the cherry on the cake, but what film can live up to those kind of expectations? Well, this one can, actually, but only just.
To recap, Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the hunt for pieces of Voldemort’s soul which are hidden in magical artefacts making them Horcruxes. If these items can be destroyed then Voldemort can be defeated once and for all. As of the beginning of the film, the team are at three Horcruxes down, four to go. FYI, it’s the last film so I’m not holding back: there are spoilers ahead.
After breaking into famous Goblin-run bank Gringotts to retrieve a Horcrux our heroes return to Hogwarts to search for more. Unfortunately, Voldemort realises what they’re up to and turns up with an army of Death Eaters. The run up to the battle is short and there’s barely any time to formulate a plan, which, as Harry points out, would be a fruitless exercise as their plans usually go tits up anyway.
The battle sequences are spectacular as director David Yates captures the fear of the characters and the frenetic energy of the battlefield. Amongst Voldemort’s followers there are giants, spiders, wizards, witches and Dementors while the good guys are made up of teachers, students and a few animated stone knights. It goes without saying that the Hogwartians are clearly outnumbered and outmatched but with Harry still on his Horcrux mission, all may not be lost.
Despite the breathtaking action, Yates manages to undersell several important moments that fans have been waiting years to see. Hermione’s transformation into Bellatrix or the total lack of it was the first disappointment. Helena Bonham Carter stumbles around on her heels for a bit of comic effect but the whole sequence is rushed, which then sucks all the tension out of the assault on Gringotts when it should be the first spike of interest in the film.
For every teenage girl (or twenty-year-old) that waited years to see Ron and Hermione finally kiss then there’ll be a shock in store for viewers as all we get to see of said kiss is the back of Ron’s head. I find it hard to believe that that was the best take of the day.
One of the highlights from the book is Mrs. Weasley’s wand fight with Bellatrix, a highly skilled witch who’s killed scores of people in Voldemort’s name. Unfortunately she is dispatched all too quickly with no real payoff for the Weasley family and not to mention that, once again, Ginny Weasley has bugger-all to do in this film.
On the plus side, and it’s a pretty strong plus, Alan Rickman really pulls it out of the bag with his performance in flashbacks which reveal Snape’s undying love for Lily Potter. His heartache at seeing her lifeless body at the scene of her murder and the agony of his own death are truly moving and is the highlight of the entire series. Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are once again fine as the leads but they’ve never been the solid acting core the like of which this series needs. Ralph Fiennes of course steals the show as the big bad Voldemort walking the edge of insanity and menace with pure screen presence.
To really get the most out of the experience, I recommend you watch Part 1 as close to your viewing as possible because as good as they are separately, you must bear in mind that they are two halves of the same film and should be viewed as such. It really is a fine end to difficult series and though it may have its faults, it’s a truly unforgettable film.