And so it ends. After twenty-one hours of screen time stretching over ten years and a gazillion dollars in box office earnings, the Harry Potter saga comes to a close. Whilst it’s now the highest grossing franchise of all time (without adjusting for inflation), it’s hard to imagine that Warner Brothers ever dared dream that the films would be this successful.
Splitting The Deathly Hallows into two parts made sense. Sort of. Whilst it wasn’t the longest (or indeed, the most complicated) of the books, I appreciate that a rushed ending to such an incredibly long narrative would have been met with disdain from fans. Putting aside the fact that Warner Brothers effectively doubled their box office takings for The Deathly Hallows, at least it meant we had two films that were prepared to take their time and give the characters the space they deserve.
That being said, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is essentially one big climax. It’s hard to even suggest that it’s an accomplished film in its own right. It’s all ending, with no beginning and middle, so to say it’s the best of the entire franchise (as some have) seems a bit much to me.
To be honest, I was a little disappointed with this film. Readers should understand that I’m far from the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world – I enjoyed the books but have never felt the urge to own them or read them more than once. I found the climax in J.K. Rowling’s final book to be a bit of a let down, and had thus hoped that the film version would be more… epic. Sure, it’s on a large scale, but The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 seems to squander the opportunities it was given for wonderfully heroic moments. I never felt afraid for anyone’s safety and it never got very exciting.
The cinematography is workmanlike but never seems to revel in the events the way it should. It doesn’t help that two people standing several yards apart, pointing sticks at each other and screaming don’t make for a very exciting fight. Some part of me had hoped that they’d find a way to make wand-based combat more interesting, but alas this isn’t the case.
The special effects are also a letdown. There are many examples of great CGI work here, but there are also some rather awful moments. After a decade in which to practice and refine shooting and post production techniques, you’d think they’d be able to make broomstick riding look at least halfway realistic. There are some awful green screen moments also. This may sound petty, but if it’s the HIGHEST GROSSING FRANCHISE OF ALL TIME you’d think they’d have the time and/or money to fix any of these problems that smaller films manage quite successfully.
I saw the film in 2D, and from what I’ve heard, you would definitely be better off saving money and doing the same. The film is incredibly dark, and I can only imagine that the inevitable dimming of the image that occurs when watching 3D would only make this worse.
Despite all these complaints, I did enjoy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. At no stage does it feel rushed (which is a wonderful change from the first six films), and we really get to see some wonderful performances. This film well and truly highlights just how good Alan Rickman is as Severus Snape. He really gets to flex his acting muscles in this film, even if his face remains characteristically slack during his deadpan deliveries. There was another performance that surprised me also – that of Ralph Fiennes. It’s always been hard to look past the ridiculous noselessness, but in some scenes here he manages to display a genuine melancholy menace that borders on chilling.
The central three performers are all fine. Despite the fact that they really look too old for their roles, it isn’t too distracting. The epilogue, however, is disastrous. Without going into it for fear of spoilers, let me just say I’ll never understand why the filmmakers chose to take the path they did in bringing this to life.
The Harry Potter franchise finishes gracefully with this film but fails to be truly spellbinding cinema in its own right. I can’t imagine fans of the book will be too disappointed – enough box office takings to buy the moon disproves any uncertainty along those lines – though the few Muggles out there who never got what all the fuss is about aren’t about to experience any epiphanies.Rating: