Eye For Film >> Movies >> Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) Film Review
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
So, after a decade of box office dominance, we wave a wand farewell to JK Rowling's boy wizard - and director David Yates and scriptwriter Steve Kloves give him one hell of a send off.
The decision to split Rowling's hefty final novel into two might smack of an attempt to wring every last drop of revenue from the franchise and while there is almost certainly a whiff of truth to that, it quickly becomes clear that there are very solid artistic reasons for halving the Hallows, not least so that the narrative and emotional intricacies of the plot can be preserved.
We pick up where we left off, as evil wizard Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is picking up a trophy of his own - the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in the world. But while he is edging towards the indestructability he so craves, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe, better than he has ever been) and friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are out to destroy the remaining 'horcruxes' - objects that contain a piece of Voldemort's soul.
Yates and Kloves have fallen more into their stride with every outing, offering faithful but not slavish adaptations that have a living, fire-breathing life of their own independent from the source novels. And since taking the helm for Order Of The Phoenix, Yates has brought a crucial element into play - reality. There is magic here, for sure, but there is also a constant threat of nasty death and of genuine heartbreak, plus a sense of the importance of pulling together with your friends in moments of adversity.
Here, Yates finds tension in contrast, weaving skilfully between moments of quiet menace - such as Hermione's attempts to pass herself off as Bellatrix to enter her vault at Gringott's - with adventurous action set pieces, such as the 'runaway train' trolley ride that threatens to kill our heroes before they can reach the heart of the bank. Kloves expertly uses humour to mitigate some of the grimmer moments but never makes light of the highness of the stakes.
The handling of key battle scenes, particularly the lengthy showdown at Hogwarts, is superlatively done and they are noticeable for their enviable lack of triumphalism. Many films, even those aimed at a family audience, have a tendency to wallow in the blood lust of a fight, fuelling these set-pieces with testosterone and featuring cut-away shots of faces who smile as they plunge in a knife. Here, fighting is necessary but not celebrated, with the sense that the main protagonists are not out for revenge but rather looking to protect their own in the face of the onslaught of others. There is an almost Agincourt nobleness to proceedings, with Yates taking the emphasis away from the cut and thrust of the fight to the poignance of considering those who have fallen.
That he does all of this without ever losing the film's sense of adventure is a remarkable feat, aided by the fact that the central characters - and key bit part players such as Neville Longbottom (Matthew David Lewis) and Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) - are people we have grown to love down the years and who we'll root for, no matter what.
The "snogging scenes" don't come off - some of us as still feeling emotionally scarred by the 'naked' Harry and Hermione scene in Part 1, for goodness sake - but they are, thankfully, brief. Elsewhere Yates and Kloves handle key emotional notes with aplomb. In particular, they economically open up a world of questions about Snape (Alan Rickman, masterful as always) and a fluid flashback scene using the pensieve is quite remarkable in its nuanced covering of important plot points and psychological revelations, without ever feeling forced.
The 3D is fine but its doubtful you'll miss out if you opt for the plain, lower priced 2D version.
If ever there was a critic-proof film, this is most certainly it - but, pleasingly, it's so good that it doesn't have to be.Reviewed on: 16 Jul 2011