Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part Two - Cinema Review

'spectacular, dramatic and worthy of the epic setup it received... a prime example of getting family-friendly fantasy very right'

Breaking box office records faster than it takes a snitch to fly from the great hall to the room of requirement, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part Two is the culmination of eight films, across ten years, charting one story: that of a boy wizard cursed by a prophecy to face the enemy that killed his parents or see the world ruled by malevolence and evil. As you might expect from a story with such grand designs its conclusion is spectacular, dramatic and worthy of the epic setup it received. Purveyors of extreme Potter-skepticism might question why it took them this long to get it this right. Regardless, this is a prime example of getting family-friendly fantasy very right and doing it with all the bells and whistles that accompany big budget blockbusters.

Unlike the first part of The Deathly Hallows, Harry's (Daniel Radcliffe) final journey starts with a much greater narrative drive than we've seen before in a Potter. No setup is needed (the first part spent two hours doing that). No waiting around in forests is required. Very little plot exposition needs to be reeled off for us to know that Potter and pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine (Emma Watson) need to find the last few remaining horcruxes in order to weaken Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and enable Harry to defeat him once and for all. The first hour, which features such Potter staples as identity spells, invisibility cloaks, dragons and moving paintings, is a joy featuring tension in the setups and scenes of well-produced action in the payoffs.

Once the action arrives back at Hogwarts things do start to slow somewhat as director David Yates recognises that some audience members might need exposition-laden reminders of what's happening at the moment and what needs to happen in the future. There's one lengthy flashback in particular which goes right back to Harry's youth in order to lay out exactly what's been going on all this time. Perhaps it's needed but whether it is or not, it makes for a lengthy third act, comprised mainly of charging around Hogwarts whilst all manner of mystical catastrophe threatens to kick off outside. There's plenty of fun to be had in this section too (an unexpectedly chilling encounter with Helena Ravenclaw (Kelly Macdonald) is a highlight) but because the story is split over two films the lack of a second act here is noticeable, especially when you consider the length of time Harry and friends spend in the castle.

Once things start to fall in to place and the inevitable concluding battle builds things perk again but risk getting a little silly. Obvious parallels between Harry's story and another worldwide bestseller are made easier to draw by events in the final half hour and some character's actions (including Harry's) become less and less clear, looking more designed for plot convenience than character-building integrity. That said, and like the payoffs in the opening half, the action sequences don't disappoint and the punctuating periods of contemplation are laced with enough emotion to continue to guarantee your investment.

Ultimately all that matters is that The Deathly Hallows: Part Two is more than a fitting conclusion to the franchise: it's also the series' best film. Some moments still miss the mark but there's more hits here than any previous effort. Harry's confrontation with Snape in the great hall is probably the series' best-acted scene and Fiennes' tremendous Voldemort gets more than enough time to shine. In many ways a cinematic milestone but for fans, merely a fitting end for a much-loved character.

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'When taken together, the films create something with broad daring scale. They reach to every corner of the world the author created and then go to the heart of danger for one final brawl' - The Dark Of The Matinee, 3/4


  1. I really couldn't find the enthusiasism to like this and the first part. Somehow they both felt like just another HP movie to me.
    Problem for me is I'm sick to the back teeth of CGI generate dmovies week in week out and by the time Part 2 came along my poor eyes were totally jaded by it all.
    A real pity because I'ma HP fan having read the books and i wanted to see the franchise out in style but somehow it all passed me by! But I know I'mnot alone in shrugging my shoulders at this last instalment.
    Didn't dislike it as much as felt it all too familiar...all over again.

  2. To me, this is nothing short of perfection. Really nice work, and great pic. I should have chosen that one for my review...

  3. Totally agree that this is the franchise best film. It's actually the first Harry Potter movie I "loved". I think seeing this back to back with Part I will make a lot of people realize they were meant to be seen that way. I look forward to seeing Part 2 again this upcoming Sunday!

  4. Brent - sounds like a shame you didn't enjoy, especially with you being a fan of the books. Perhaps give it another go on DVD/Blu? I can see your point, as ever, with CGI but I almost ignored those elements, I just got swept up in the basic story really - a near-first for me throughout this whole series.

    Matt S - Glad to hear you liked it. As I say, I thought the lack of a second act was a problem. Too much of the film is spent fighting it out in Hogwarts. But, still, I enjoyed it rather a lot.

    Castor - Yeah, I'll give Part 1 (which I really didn't like) another watch in conjunction with this to see what they do end like together. I still think Part 1 might end up feeling like its got too much walking and this part too much Hogwarts-ing. We'll see...