Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

Directed By: David Yates
Written By: Steve Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe
  Emma Watson
  Rupert Grint
  Ralph Fiennes
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Having endured the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I felt compelled to watch the last instalment of an eight film franchise, spawned from seven progressively meandering books by J.K. Rowling. The trailer and all the hype told us this film would be carnage and violence and war and death and that it “all ends here”. Does it fulfil these sweepingly grand promises? Yes, and much more.

The plot? An evil wizard called Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, sans nose) is almost at the height of his power, and only one person can stop him; young wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), prophetically told to be the only person able to kill “he who must not be named”. Voldemort has split his soul into seven parts – called Horcruxes – and Harry must destroy each one before finally confronting the worst person in the world, a final battle that will threaten his friends, family and everything he has ever loved.

The plot above is hilariously thin and barely covers a tiny percent of the actual plot, but it’s the general crux of it. Almost entirely inaccessible to newcomers, the final part of an epic saga references all the other films and books, and those with no prior knowledge of the Potter world will be left baffled, lost and confused. This is not Transformers 3 or A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 – this is a culmination of years of storytelling, and its impressive stuff.

Whether you’ve followed Harry and chums adroitly since its conception in 1997 or you’re fresh to the franchise, the last instalment of this filmology is very well crafted. David Yates’ direction is pacy, Steve Kloves’ script is sharp and succinct and the acting is genuinely excellent throughout, even from the child actors, whom failed miserably to convince in the previous “Part”. Radcliffe is especially impressive, showing how far he’s come from being the chimp-faced little gimp he was in Philosopher’s Stone.

On hindsight, it feels like the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the film they “had to get out of the way”, smacking all the exposition and build up into it so we could blast, zap and explode our way through the second part. Where the first part bored, the second part excels in being exciting and explosive.

There are still problems – many, many, many problems – from the off-screen deaths of some major characters to the crappy-looking ending (which was necessary due to the book, but still awkward and simply a bit weird), but there’s more to love than hate here. There are superb moments throughout, from the history of Snape to Molly Weasley’s (Julie Walters) fight with Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter in full insane mode), there are scenes that will captivate and delight throughout.

Much like the previous film or two, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is not for young children. It is bloody and brutal, sickening and saddening in equal measure, and lacks the necessary levity and quaint charm a pre-12 audience requires. Yes, the books become more adult and thus the films should follow suit, but it’s harrowing, dark and disturbing stuff; main characters die in abundance, there’s blood, there’s swearing, and there’s a horrible bloodied creature hidden under a bench.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is an excellent way to finish off a long and winding saga – explosively and emotionally. It has its faults and will implode the brain of any Potter newbie, but overall it’s an action-packed, well-scored, tightly made production that shocks, scares and moves. Is this the last we’ll see of Harry Potter and friends? Probably not. My money’s still on Harry Potter Kids: The Next Generation. You heard it here first…

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

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