Reviews

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

4

Say Hallow, wave goodbye...

"Hogwarts has changed,” explains a bruised and battered Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) as he welcomes fellow wiz-kids Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) back to the once-illustrious School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
 
He’s not kidding. From the sinister opening sequence – in which students are marched rank-and-file through a misty courtyard, surrounded by a horde of cloaked Dementors – to the monumental closing battle that reduces it to smouldering rubble, this certainly isn’t the warm, fuzzy home-from-home we’re used to.
 
An intense siege movie largely set within the school grounds, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 benefits greatly from the return to home turf, boasting an urgency that’s miles away from the meandering, on-the-road adventures of Part 1. It’s also shot with an extraordinary eye for detail, as returning director David Yates revels in revisiting iconic locations from previous instalments – the towering Quidditch stadium, the relic-hiding Room of Requirement, the magnificent Great Hall – before spectacularly blowing the crap out of all of them.
 
The source of the carnage? Serpentine psycho Lord Voldemort (a deliciously eeeeviil Ralph Fiennes), who’s finally cottoned on that his young nemesis is out to destroy his death-cheating Horcruxes. With three down, three to go, our heroes’ quest inevitably leads them back to Hogwarts, where Harry and co are forced to make their last stand against Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters.
 
Just like the latter half of JK Rowling’s climactic tome, Yates is left with much to resolve and many loose ends to tie up. Thankfully, he’s up to the task. At little over two hours, Hallows: Part 2 is the shortest film of the series and yet feels like the most cohesive – a pacey, exhilarating and emotionally satisfying final chapter that goes some way to validating the decision to split the book in two.
 
After a thrilling early set-piece that sees the lead trio breaking into the impenetrable Gringotts bank, it’s pretty much straight into battle. Radcliffe, Watson and Grint all get stuck into the action admirably, but it’s several of the peripheral characters that steal the show here. As the duplicitous Professor Snape, Alan Rickman lends a hefty, heartstring-pulling wallop to a crucial, exposition-heavy flashback. Maggie Smith’s surprisingly badass McGonagall leads the resistance with giddy abandon, while Helena Bonham Carter has a ball impersonating Watson as a polyjuice-disguised Hermione. And then there’s Julie Walters, who boasts the mother of all one-liners…



With so much to get through and so little time, it’s unfortunate (if hardly surprising) that a few series favourites – Jim Broadbent’s bumbling Professor Slughorn, Emma Thompson’s batty Trelawney – are consigned to the background. But it’s a testament to the quality of the filmmaking that such thesps would show up for such little screentime. Yates wisely treats these characters not as cheap cameos, but as natural colour for the movie’s richly populated universe – in Hogwarts' hour of need, why wouldn’t they be there?

The impressively bulging end credits, stuffed with the names of Britain’s finest stage and screen actors, just goes to show that, unlike the Transformers of this world, this is a blockbuster with real clout. Not that it doesn’t compete on a bang-for-buck basis: the dragon-back escape from Gringotts; the Horcrux hunt in the fire-engulfed Room of Hidden Things; Harry and Voldie’s climactic duel… This is filmmaking on a massive scale. It also sees the franchise rediscovering its magical mojo – with enchanted stone soldiers, colossal creatures and spells aplenty, Yates and his crew offer plenty of beautifully crafted creations and accomplished CG to feast our eyes on (dimmed, but not blemished, by the unnecessary 3D conversion).
 
Spectacle is important, but it’s reassuring to see Yates and stalwart screenwriter Steve Kloves haven’t neglected the smaller moments. The horror of seeing a bloodthirsty werewolf feasting ferociously on the jugular of a young Gryffindor, for example, reminds us what all the fighting is about. This is war – people die, sacrifices are made. But the gloom is permeated by a handful of very heartfelt, very human standouts, be it Ron and Hermione’s first kiss in the Chamber of Secrets or Harry’s fateful forest walk surrounded by his dearest departed.

Although it sticks fairly close to Rowling’s source, some inevitable subplot omissions may leave non-readers in the lurch: the sudden reference to Lupin’s son Teddy; the lack of insight into Dumbledore’s relationship with dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (poor Jamie Campbell Bower, briefly glimpsed in Part 1 as a young Grindelwald, winds up on the cutting room floor).
 
Yet this remains one of the most accessible Potters – strip away the baggage and you’re left with an epic battle of good versus evil, with enough fist-in-air and lump-in-throat moments to inspire a real sense of occasion. Stubborn Potter-phobes are unlikely to change their minds, but for those who’ve stuck by Harry and pals through 10 years and seven movies, this is a truly fitting end to a much-loved fantasy franchise.

 

Verdict:

Fusing spectacle and emotion into a thrilling final chapter, director David Yates ensures that the series goes out with a bang. Finales don’t come much grander than this.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • FBPWilliamson

      Jul 7th 2011, 18:40

      Room of hidden things?? or The Room of Requirement, good god!!!

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    • Ali1748

      Jul 7th 2011, 23:43

      I am still trying to figure out why David Yates was choosen to finish the series.

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    • badger86

      Jul 8th 2011, 0:11

      @Ali1748 - Agreed, and I' still find it a shame that the world never got to see to see what Terry Gilliam.could have done with series had he been given creative freedom, which to be fair was never gonna happen with a franchise this big. Still, its our loss.

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    • TheDMeister

      Jul 8th 2011, 1:20

      David Yates was chosen because he's done a very good job with the series. Not only has his films had a visual flair but they've had a great grasp on the characters and stories. Looking forward to seeing this last film.

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    • bauerpowerhour

      Jul 8th 2011, 2:58

      I agree with TheDMeister.

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    • QuietLife

      Jul 8th 2011, 11:20

      I've never been a fan of the Potter films - bar the third one (yet somehow managed to have seen them all) and also, have never read the books. However this review has been the first to make me want to see one. I had to IMDB Gary Oldman to make sure he was in it as I have found him to be the only reason to rewatch any previous instalment. David Yates was an interesting choice to finish with, I agree that Gilliam would have taken these ideas & characters to a different level!

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    • Claudia

      Jul 8th 2011, 15:14

      Yates has done a really fantastic job of the instalments he's directed. The way he has stayed loyal to the spirit of the books, skilfully bringing them to life without trying too hard to put his own stamp on them is - in my view - admirable. The performances from the three leads have improved considerably under his direction, and he hasn't lost sight of the smaller, character moments amongst all the action and high drama. I'm glad he's been allowed to finish the series and I'm confident that this one will be a great swansong.

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    • Claudia

      Jul 8th 2011, 15:15

      Yates has done a really fantastic job of the instalments he's directed. The way he has stayed loyal to the spirit of the books, skilfully bringing them to life without trying too hard to put his own stamp on them is - in my view - admirable. The performances from the three leads have improved considerably under his direction, and he hasn't lost sight of the smaller, character moments amongst all the action and high drama. I'm glad he's been allowed to finish the series and I'm confident that this one will be a great swansong.

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    • TheDMeister

      Jul 9th 2011, 2:23

      I quite admire the tone of this review compared for Part 1. I didn't mind so much that the reviewer didn't seem to particularly enjoy the movie but I took offense to the tone of the review. It was cynical and borderline hateful which as a Potter fan I'm naturally gonna take offense to. Not all Potter fans agree over the films and I think they'll be the first to admit that but I think a review should not be biased both for or against. After all these films aren't the abominations that M Night Shyalaman seems to be making these days.

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    • lijo118

      Jul 9th 2011, 16:12

      I have to agree with the positive response to Yates, I love the way he makes sure to focus on characters like Luna and Neville. However I am shocked that no one has mentioned Alfonso Cuarón, who I think made the best Harry Potter film, and I would have loved to see what he could have done to the whole series. But in the end it doesnt matter who directs, as long as its a Harry Potter film Im happy!

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    • Arkhaminmate001

      Jul 9th 2011, 17:07

      I just hope Harry wipes the floor with Transformers - go Harry! Is it true a teaser for TDKR will be with this movie?

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    • Ali1748

      Jul 10th 2011, 11:57

      Prisoner Of Azkaban and The Goblet Of Fire have been the best movies IMO.

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    • PanicLord

      Jul 10th 2011, 18:06

      I agree with Alil748 - films 3 and 4 were outstanding, but I didn't really enjoy the darker tone of 5 and 6 as much. Having said that, loved 7a, and it sounds like 7b is sending the series off with a massive bang, so really looking forward to seeing it!

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    • PanicLord

      Jul 10th 2011, 18:06

      I agree with Alil748 - films 3 and 4 were outstanding, but I didn't really enjoy the darker tone of 5 and 6 as much. Having said that, loved 7a, and it sounds like 7b is sending the series off with a massive bang, so really looking forward to seeing it!

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    • StevePotter

      Jul 11th 2011, 9:21

      I'm looking forward to this. As to the question of the best Potter film, I must admit I think 3 and 4 are vastly overrated. I personally think the 3rd one is sort of weak, but I didn't care for the book either; I honestly think Prisoner of Azkaban is the only film of the series so far to better the book it was based on. Goblet of Fire was my favorite book, and (in my opinion) the movie was HORRIBLE. Even if I hadn't read the books, I'm pretty sure I would hate it. Of course, it's still Harry Potter, so I'd take it over "Revenge of the Fallen" or Eragon any day, but I can't believe it's a favorite for so many people. I think Half-Blood Prince is my favorite.

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    • acushla

      Jul 12th 2011, 12:19

      Can't wait! It's got to be better than part 1 where nothing happened apart from a lot of sitting around in a tent whining. I missed Hogwards and all the other characters, glad they're back in this one.

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    • BruceShark

      Jul 14th 2011, 1:30

      1

      Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear. Where did the magic go. Having never read the book i was expecting some exciting and thrilling, instead, boredom. If that is what is in the books thank god I never read them. The series was ok up until the 'The Half Blood Prince' and then the decline happened and sadly this does nothing to lift it up. I think the 4 star review is probably a farewell four stars. Personally it's a good job it is farewell because the rot has defiantly set in. Oh, and giving Ginny a fat a**e is about as far as they go on the ageing process.

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    • agentorange420

      Jul 15th 2011, 12:03

      @And then there’s Julie Walters, who boasts the mother of all one-liners… Which sounded better when Ripley said it as a transformer in the mother battle in Aliens

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    • herosthroe

      Jul 15th 2011, 12:28

      1

      It could have done with being half hour or so longer as some parts seem to be glazed over or ignored- with some characters appearing then disappearing just as fast. Saying that, it's a cracking finish to a very well presented series of films and, despite some big changes to the novel, won't let fans down... Alan Rickman is just brilliant and "The Prince's Tale" lived up to all my expectations! Oh, there was a Dark Knight Rises teaser too!!!!!!

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    • herosthroe

      Jul 15th 2011, 12:29

      4

      What happened to my four star rating!?!?

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    • elgar7

      Jul 16th 2011, 20:30

      4

      It was a good film but for a book that was split into two films for the precise reason of putting everything in, they didn't exactly put everything in. Overall I enjoyed it but I agree with herosthroe that it definitely could have done with an extra half hour. Heck with that half hour they could have properly linked it to the 1st part. My girlfriend has only watched the films and hasn't read the books and she couldn't understand parts, and as for the countless major changes from the book in terms of plot direction and actions made... don't get me started. =/ Mini rant over now :P but the film was a relatively good ending to a series I grew up with :)

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    • Impulse

      Jul 20th 2011, 10:25

      4

      The film was very good, but I felt they rushed it unnecessarily. Characters like Hagrid were seriously underused, and certain scenes were nowhere to be found. I did like how they handled Snape's story, it was the one part of the book I thought might not get shown properly but job well done with that. It should have been much longer, hoping for a directors cut, but cant see it.

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