Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

2011– 130mn – 12A

Directed by David Yates. Written by Steve Kloves from the novel by JK Rowling. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman. Review by Walter Nichols

The end of an era comes to a close as – 10 years and eight movies after The Sorcerer’s Stone – the Harry Potter movie franchise reaches its end.

Picking up, obviously, from where Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1 left off, the film finds Harry, Ron and Hermione in hiding and on the run, racing against the clock to defeat Voldemort before he asserts his control on the world. To do so they must find three magical objects known as Horcruxes, each of them containing part of Lord Voldemort’s soul. Only when they are destroyed will the dark wizard be mortal.

This being the Harry Potter series, the plot is in fact much more complicated: the film needs to tie up innumerable subplots – is Snape really evil? What’s the deal with Dumbledore’s brother? What of Draco Malfoy? Will Harry die? Will Ron and Hermione finally snog? – and does a commendable job of resolving them within the two-hour runtime, and coherently. There’s plenty of action (the main set piece of the film is the Battle of Hogwarts, in which all of Voldemort’s evil thugs face off with all of Maggie Smith’s good wizards, to spectacular effect) and it’s beautifully, thrillingly shot. Alongside Prisoner of Azkaban, this is the only Potter film that is a truly great film as a film, rather than a competent and faithful adaptation of material better told in its original form. The whole thing truly and genuinely feels like an event.

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Best of all, the cast are on top form, and the three young leads especially have come of age. Daniel Radcliffe finally holds the screen the way a leading man should, and Emma Watson and Rupert Grint prove themselves much more watchable and enjoyable when freed of the stiff, exposition- and one-liner heavy dialogue of the previous films.

On the downside, it feels at times a bit too much like a Greatest Hits album, with every British actor who’s been part of the franchise at some point – from Robbie Coltrane to David Thewlis to Gary Oldman and John Hurt – popping up for a scene or a half, like a sort of victory lap. Newcomers to the franchise, if there are any left, will also miss many of the subtleties – such as why it’s such an empowering, exciting moment for the rest of the audience when Neville Longbottom reveals himself to be a hero – but not much could have been done about that.

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Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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