Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two
It’s difficult for me to be objective about a Harry Potter film. I have, without question, loved each and every one of them and whenever I’m lost for a movie to watch those well worn DVDs find their way into my player. Therefore it was with a certain amount of pre-emptive glee that I headed to a midnight screening for the first time, determined to see the film in the best possible format: IMAX 3D. I never quite understood the rush to do post conversion 3D work on this franchise but once it’s happened then you might as well embrace it.
The film is a colossal piece of work, comparable to the Lord of the Rings in it’s relentless pace and scope. This is nothing like the first part (Harry Potter and the Extended Camping Trip) which lingered beautifully on the fracturing and regenerating relationships between the trio- this is full on mayhem. It just goes to show that chaos can be as controlled as it is visceral; a lesson that franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers would do well to learn. But this is more than merely an action movie, this is the film where Harry Potter gets to sucker punch Voldemort. It’s the final showdown, the crowning achievement, the defining moment.
Radcliffe, Watson and Grint have come on leaps and bounds from their sketchy performances in the earlier films. Where previously I found them to be outshone by their adult counterparts now they are comfortably outshining the younger members of the cast (Evanna Lynch, for example). And, of course, *that moment * between Ron and Hermione drew loud whoops and cheers from the audience, although I found myself more distracted by Rupert Grint’s premature balding.
The rest of the cast are impeccable. Alan Rickman will surely be recognised by the Academy for his work over the entire series, this being the most complex chapter in his character’s life. Ralph Fiennes is similarly villainous- all flaring nostrils and merciless killing. I sometimes wish that Helena Bonham Carter would tone it down a little but she’s suitably demented which is certainly ‘in character’. The good guys don’t let the baddies have all the fun though. David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith and the ghostly Michael Gambon all get their time in the sun, not to mention the heroic return of Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom.
The film rides from glorious set piece to glorious set piece. The dazzling Gringotts sequence is just a taster for what’s to come (think Mines of Moria compared to Helm’s Deep) but it’s scintillating all the same. But amidst the carnage of the Battle of Hogwarts are a series of tender almost silent moments that will bring a large chunk of the audience to tears. The Prince’s Tale and The Forest Again are particularly beautifully rendered and are aided by a young actor who, finally, seems to be in complete control of his character.
Yes, the epilogue kind of sucks, but what did you really expect? In a way it’s a shame that it has to end with a scene that draws laughs rather than tears, especially when every other film has ended with a glorious panorama- fitting as the sun rises over a broken Hogwarts. But David Yates has done a tremendous job of delivering each power chord of emotion with bravado but never bluster. Like the weary, battle worn characters we’ve come through this epic journey one movie at a time but out patience has been rewarded because the very best was saved for last.
Unashamedly, that is probably the most I’ve ever enjoyed watching a movie. An outstanding and age defining blockbuster.