It’s finally here, the culmination of a generations childhood and the most anticipated film of 2011. The final Harry Potter film is finally here, the deathly hallows part 2. The time that Harry and Lord Voldermort face off for the final time is upon us. The story follows the gang and their quest to weaken the dark lord by destroying the remaining Horcruxes – items which contain his soul, making him immortal. After finding the first Horcrux at Gringots they find out that the next item on their fetch and destroy quest is at Hogwarts. The great school makes its return after its absence from part 1 of this 2 parter. It’s good to see the school again, unfortunately the school is about to become a battle ground in the war between the wizarding world and Lord Voldermort’s army.
All the other films were leading up towards this, the final confrontation between the boy who lived and he who must not be named. This is the very definition of bittersweet. Fans will be going in to see this chomping at the bit but sad at the fact that this marks the end of an era of their lives stretching back 10 years. Therefore the great question to ask of deathly hallows 2 is whether this is a fitting full stop to a franchise that has been such a huge part of popular culture for the past decade. That is a tricky question to answer because the film is both immensely satisfying and disappointing.
The series is known for its long running times and one of the great credits of to the many directors is that it never feels like you are watching a 2 hour plus film, with the sole exception of deathly hallows part 1. The climax is just over 2 hours long and it doesn’t feel anything like it because other than a few let ups in the pace, the film is a relentless action packed ride. It could be debated that there isn’t enough characterisation in this film which would be a valid point if we didn’t have the luxury of a seven film set-up. From the philosopher’s stone to last year’s deathly hallows part 1 we have more than grew to know this huge cast. It may be lacking in-depth or characterisation but the collective history of Harry Potter is deep with characterisation all of which allows this to be one of the biggest and boldest blockbusters of the year. Deathly Hallows part 2 might not break the stereotype of brainless summer blockbusters however it does have a huge beating heart on display that none of the films competing for the public’s attention on a similar scale could even being to allude to.
The war which this beating heart calls home is bigger and more dangerous for more people than the central gang of Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s here where we get to see characters in new lights. Maggie Smith as the traditionally matriarchal professor McGonagall has a chance to become a war mongering witch who gets the chance to truly enjoy herself in the role and kick ass. The same sentiment is echoed by Julie Walters Molly Weasley to gets to spout a line very similar to a famous line from Aliens. Neville Longbottom, the series idiot, gets a chance to be hero by standing up to the face of evil – in a cardigan, no less – to deliver a necessary if cheesy monologue. The biggest reveal of the film is that of Alan Rickman as Severus Snape who puts in an amazing turn in what we see to be the best character in the series. Through one five-minute emotionally charged sequence, Snape both shows his duality and how much he owns this series.
Moving from the high point of both the film and series I have to move onto the negatives. It’s not the film does anything wrong, per se, the issue that I or anybody would have from this film is born from being spoilt by a seven film build up. As you would expect for a war film there is a high body count, some of the deaths are far more brutal than others with one comic relief character being gnawed on by a werewolf. One of JK Rowling’s saga’s greatest strengths was its colourful and vast cast which has been a joy to get to know. It’s rare in cinema for one of the greatest strengths to be a problem for a film. The massive cast which haven’t been killed off prior to this film get a bad deal in this war. Fear not, I won’t post any spoilers, this is a very bloody climax to the series many of characters die, some big some small. That is an issue that I couldn’t escape. Many events, deaths and triumphs which would be the source of great drama became blink and you’ll miss it moments under the attentions of the Yates and Kloves partnership. Its good but during the latter half of the film, the pace was in too much of a rush to get things done.
When all is said and done, this is a massively entertaining piece of summer cinema that you don’t have to justify your enjoyment for, like was the case with Pirates 4 and Transformers 3. This is a big, loud and enjoyable film. It is also a suitably epic conclusion to the series, but only just. In my humble opinion this is a film which feels a little rushed, this is a film which needs a director’s cut, I would love to see a 3 hour version of the same film. I am someone who isn’t a massive fan of Harry Potter but still after 16 hours (plus) for me to say that this film needs to be longer, it really does shout from the rooftops how enjoyable I found it. All you Harry Potter fans out there will enjoy the hell out of it, but that was never an issue that was never in doubt.