So it’s here. With a mixture of fear and excitement, this is the moment that Harry Potter fans from all over the world have been waiting for. The End. The last Harry Potter film, and with it seemingly the end of the franchise. But before you join me in ‘Post Potter depression’ make sure you enjoy what is a brilliant send off for everyone’s favourite boy wizard.
The film needed to be able to reach the emotional highs found in the book, as well as do credit to J.K Rowling‘s vivid and enthralling ending to the series. Largely I think the film managed to meet these goals and more often than I’d like to admit, had me crying like a little child. Emma Watson in particular continues to show a knack for emotional scenes in an overall excellent performance. Watson’s romantic counterpart Rupert Grint also puts in a fine performance, and his body language in particular is excellent. Watson and Grint did justice to one of the most eagerly anticipated on-screens kisses in years, though I feel it suffered slightly by not occurring as it does in the book, though that may just be me being a book snob.Daniel Radcliffe has been on the end of some criticism for his performance over the course of the series; maybe unfairly so, but I largely feel that he delivered what was needed in his performance. Radcliffe often lacks depth and variety when performing in emotional scenes, especially when encountering his parents, I found him to be a little too stoic. Similarly the interactions between Harry and Ginny often seem very awkward and their relationship suffers from a lack of chemistry and emotional range from both Radcliffe and Bonnie Wright.
As expected, the best performances came from the seasoned veterans of film and stage, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. Smith’s performance spectacularly captures Mcgonagall’s heroics in the battle of Hogwarts, with the line, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell,” encapsulating her sense of fun. Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Snape reaches new heights and his years of experience shine through in a versatile performance which does justice to the tormented character.
The film is stunning and is worth the extra outlay to see in 3D. The film opens with the Dementors floating eerily around a subdued Hogwarts as the students walk in what is almost like a funeral march. The dark colour palate in this scene, along with a lack of music, creates an incredibly sombre tone and is a great contrast to how we usually see Hogwarts. It juxtaposes beautifully with the next, which sees Harry sitting by Dobby‘s grave in a much brighter and colourful background. The visual highlight is the incredible Gringots dragon; a great white mass of sinew and muscle. Another visual spectacle is the spell shield that floats over Hogwarts like a great ether, glowing in the dark sky.
The film picks up where it left of, with Voldemort obtaining the Elder Wand and with Harry reflecting by Dobby‘s grave. The opening moments in Shell Cottage also play without any musical accompaniment, with only the sound of the sea to compliment the scenes. While not that noticeable, it does create a sense of tension and helps build up the anticipation. As the trio spend very little time at Shell Cottage I feared that the film would be badly paced. Once they had raided Gringots they reached Hogwarts fairly early on. However I was pleasantly surprised as the film remained captivating and progressed well. The majority of the action takes place within Hogwarts, though it’s not quite the Hogwarts that we’ve grown to know and love over the last ten years.
A great deal of importance is placed on the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione and the idea that they’ve completed this journey together. This is evident from the fact that Harry and Ginny’s relationship takes a backseat, though that’s not to say they don’t have a couple of awkward romantic moments. However it shows that a conscious decision has been made to not let let the romance overshadow Ron and Hermione’s relationship as well as the friendship of the main trio. Arguably this has been done to distance the franchise from Twilight and to avoid the cliché of, ‘Save the world, get the girl.’ A correct decision and something that shines through from start to finish.
To summarise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is an excellent film. It may have a few niggling issues but they cannot detract from what is a fitting end to a much beloved series. Incredibly well paced and visually spectacular, it manages to be both funny and emotional. It may catch you out if you don’t know the series well, but let’s face it, if you haven’t seen a Harry Potter film yet you won’t be watching this one.
This may be the end of Harry Potter but to paraphrase Neville, “Harry will live on in our hearts.” And I’m sure like me, come the epilogue to this memorable cinematic tale, you too will be crying.