If any film has ever felt pressure to provide the goods, it’s this one. Fans have invested 10 years in the boy wizard, readers even longer. The emotions are running high as the 15th July marks the end of an era, and boy, does it go out with a bang.
Deathly Hallows Part 2 opens where Part 1 left off; we’re reminded of Voldemort’s almost sacrilegious act of removing the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in history, from Dumbledore’s tomb. Plunging us straight back into the story line, the film neatly knits itself to its predecessor. We watch as Harry mourns his beloved house elf friend Dobby before he questions the residents of Shell Cottage. The pace is reasonably slow and initially seems a little disjointed; not only is the academic Hogwarts year absent, so is the film’s opening, namely because it is sitting amidst the DVD collections of the film’s audience members in the guise of Deathly Hallows Part 1.
The pace quickens with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson)’s attempt to infiltrate the impenetrable Gringotts. Making great use of 3D, the journey offers thrills and spills that even non Potterites will enjoy. Helena Bonham Carter offers an impeccable performance once again but it is in the opening half hour that her true acting ability shines as we watch her play herself via Hermione (thanks to a healthy dose of polyjuice potion). Needless to say, the attempt goes haywire and their Horcrux hunt (continued from the first part) meets another hurdle.
A fantastic dragon ride later and the trio accept the inevitable, accept what all fans have willed of them since they decided not to return for their seventh year… The return journey to Hogwarts. Their reception in the Room of Requirement is emotional and proves that the humour present in the previous seven instalments is still present, if a little diluted, here. The Hogwarts they return to is highly militarised and reeks of totalitarianism, with many of the pupils sporting scratches and bruises, punishment for their attempts to tackle the new regime.
Readers, understandably, expect a lot from the final instalment – the epic battle, for instance, so sorely missed in The Half Blood Prince. Of course this is the more lively half of the tome-like novel. Whereas the first part allowed for introspection, emotions and a hell lotta camping, Part 2 promises fights, lights and delights, most importantly in the guise of the final show down and this is where the Deathly Hallows Part 2 really shines. Unveiling himself amongst a hall-full of students, Harry instigates Snape (Alan Rickman)’s departure and allows McGonagall (Maggie Smith) to show her true bravery. Asking the school to protect those opposing the Dark Lord, she readies her school for war.
As the dazzling spells fly through the magical air the splitting of the final Potter instalment is justified. Devoting almost an hour and a half to the epic battle between good and evil you almost forget wondering how they could have even imagined to film the story in two halves. It may play out a little differently to the book – unspoken story lines are given screen time whilst some alterations make the story a little more cinema friendly – but it single-handedly personifies the story given life to by J.K. Rowling.
Amidst the harrowing battle (beware, A LOT of familiar faces face a grizzly end) come some sentimental moments as well as that kiss. Whilst Hermione and Ron finally act on their feelings for each other Harry runs haphazardly through the mayhem only stopping when a pivotal character is killed. (Look away now for major spoilers…) Yes, in his final moments Snape reveals his true affiliations and provides some emotional weight to the already highly fuelled second half. We watch in disbelief as Harry discovers that Snape was good after all thanks to his love of Harry’s mother. Moments later comes the revelation all Potter fans have feared – Harry must meet his maker… Who comes, rather surprisingly, in the form of Voldemort himself. No, Harry Potter doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Star Wars – Tom Riddle isn’t Harry’s dad, but in trying to kill him he imparted some of his soul into Harry meaning Harry must die in order to truly defeat the darkest wizard of all time. Sob.
Cue an epic finale that provides a fitting end to a cinematic saga ten years in the making. The effects are powerful and the performances commendable. The film itself reads as an elongated goodbye to a literary sensation that would become a global phenomenon. Quite how director David Yates and co would handle Rowling’s epilogue was a little beyond us but it was dealt with fittingly and, thankfully, omitted the rather cringey last three words.
Tying everything together whilst simultaneously blowing it all apart, this is a fitting end to an unprecedented phenomenon. Viewers take note: pack tissues as it’s a difficult watch through tear-streamed 3D glasses.
Best character: Severus Snape
Best bit: There’s a few; Harry and Voldemort’s final battle, the discovery of Snape’s true affiliation, the entry into and escape out of Gringotts.
Best line: ‘Not my daughter you bitch!’
Best magic: McGonagall’s Hogwarts charm.
How did it rate to the book: The contents of the Gringotts vault didn’t burn them thankfully and some changes were made to make the fight a bit more cinema friendly. The King’s Cross scene transplanted itself well onto screen.