Release date: July 15th, 2011
Written by: Steve Kloves
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Matthew Lewis, and Ciarán Hinds
After ten years, seven films, and millions of dollars, the Harry Potter series has come to an end. Those of you who have followed my blog know that in preparation for this film, I decided to go back and watch, as well as review, all the Potter films in the series. Through all this, I’ve come to the realization that I am a fan of this series. I’m not a die hard fan and I recognize the flaws I have with the series, but overall, I really like it. The Deathly Hallows Part Two was easily my most anticipated film of the year. But did it deliver a satisfying end to a ten year franchise?
The movie picks up right where Part Two left off. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) have quickly located another Horcrux and set off to find it. But they soon discover they must return to Hogwarts, which is now over run by Death Eaters and Snape has been appointed head master, to find another Horcrux. This will lead to the climax that the future of the world will hinge on.
While Part One was a slow, character based film, Part Two is a plot driven fantasy epic. The film is fast paced and the plot moves very fast. And with a run time of just over two hours, the film flies by. I also have to, once again, praise the visual style of the film. It’s ominous to come back to Hogwarts and see everything looking so dark and dreary. The cinematography gets even better when the battles begin and we see the destruction that occurs to the school. David Yates and cinematographer Eduardo Serra did a fantastic job with Part One, and they do just as good a job, if not better, here.
The other thing that David Yates here is the tone. Shortly before the battle of Hogwarts, the sense of dread is immeasurable. It’s so dreadful you start to feel overwhelmed. Not only is the film dark, but it also does feel very important. It feels like the future of all worlds is really riding on the events that take place in the film. That if Harry and the others fail, the free world fails. The stakes really couldn’t be higher.
The real visual treat of this film is the battle scenes at Hogwarts. After all this time, we finally see just what an all out battle between wizards look like. In past films, we got little snippets of it here and there, but nothing that comes close to this. The battles on Hogwarts are stunning and completely floored me. Like the last film, these are action scenes with consequence. Characters die, you can’t just sit back and enjoy the action scenes because you’re busy fretting over who may bite the dust. I also like how, like in the last film, not all our heroes are given a grand and epic death. I know some people may be disappointed by that and want to give their heroes a better send off. I understand what they’re saying, but personally, I think it adds to the conflict feeling like a bloody war.
Of course all these scenes would mean very little we didn’t care about the characters. But after all the time we’ve spent with them, it’s impossible not to care about them. The main trio have always been good, and it seems knowing it was the last film, they really brought out the best they could. Daniel Radcliffe delivers what might be his best performance yet. Harry goes through a lot and Radcliffe really brings a lot of emotions out of his character. This is probably the most I’ve ever been invested in his character. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson also do a good job as Ron and Hermione, respectively. After all my Potter reviews, it’s hard for me to say anything new about their performances. I will say though that all three do some of their best work yet.
The supporting cast is full of familiar faces from throughout the series. Matthew Lewis is given a lot to do as Neville, and he’s never been so interesting before. I’ve always liked Neville, and to see him do so much in this film really made me happy. To see a character who started out as goofy comedic relief in the early films really mature into a charismatic and accomplished badass was really cool. Michael Gambon also comes back for a few scenes as Dumbledore and does a great, as always. We also get more of Tom Felton as Malfoy. It’s a very small part of the film, but I loved it all the same. But almost everyone makes an appearance in some way. McGonagall, the Weasleys, Lupin, Hagrid, Trelawney, even Slughorn. The movie also introduces a new character, Dumbledore’s brother Aberfroth, played by Ciarán Hinds. Hinds is very good, and I really liked his character, despite not being on screen very much. But he’s interesting and helps add a new depth to Dumbledore.
On the flip side, we have the villains. The Death Eaters as a whole are intimidating and feel like a grand threat. The individual ones we spend time with are all well done. Helena Bonham Carter is a creepy yet fun villain as Bellatrix Lestrange, and I’ve grown to really like Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy. But of course, the ultimate villain is Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. He’s like the ultimate embodiment of evil, exactly the way a villain like this should be. This was also the first time we got to see Voldemort actually cut loose and fight since The Order of the Phoenix. In the last films, his presence had been growing in the background. He was the constant, looming danger. But here, he actually takes an active role and fights.
But the performance I’ve saved for last is Alan Rickman as Snape. Throughout my Potter retrospective, I’ve frequently come back to Snape and how much I enjoyed his character. Like a lot of the others, his depth and complexity become more evident as the series went on. Here, it reaches it’s fever pitch as you realize just what a complicated character he was. Rickman is fantastic in this and brings more out of Snape than ever before. The scenes of Snape and his story might be my favourite scenes from the film, and that’s really saying something.
Composer Alexandre Desplat once again delivers a moving and powerful score. There’s a lot of great original music here, most of it being very intimate and personal, despite the grand scope of the film. Another thing I love is the way Desplat took music from the older films and gave it a darker twist. This is a trick that most of the recent films have been doing, but I still enjoy it. This might be my favourite score of the series.
The climax of the film is also great. People have been looking forward to the duel between Harry and Voldemort from the beginning, and to finally see it unfold it did not disappoint. What makes it great is the fight goes on the perfect length. It’s long enough to be satisfying, but doesn’t run too long and become boring. It’s fast paced and there’s a lot going on between the two. What also makes it work well is the sheer emotion. This isn’t just the climax to the film, but the climax to the entire series and a lot is invested in it.
As the poster says, “It all ends,” and thankfully, it ends very well. I don’t think I could have asked for a better final film. This film is intense, exciting, dramatic, emotional, and satisfying on several levels. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two isn’t just a good Potter film, or a good summer film. It’s just a damn good film, period. This is also the first and only Potter film that I don’t have any complaints with. To put it bluntly, I freaking love this movie.