So yeah. It’s come that time when that boy wizard fellow has to do some stuff to save the world. It’s hard to ignore the Harry Potter franchise as it has shaped a generation some might say. Sales have been record breaking, in both the books and films, and it has seen the progression of a number of young actors from “those kids who can’t really act well, but it’s fine because LOOK! there’s Alan Rickman!” to “those kids who are actually not that bad”.
And now we hit David Yates’ fourth Harry Potter film (3rd if you want to count Deathly Hallows as one. I think he was just trying to one up all the other directors to get the most films under his belt) and our eponymous hero has discovered that, to defeat Voldemort, he has to destroy his very soul separated into different items.
What follows is my opinions on the film. WARNING: There may be brief spoilers in reference to previous films. For those not wanting spoilers, the long and short of it is it’s one of the better films but ultimately a bit disappointing.
Part 2 pretty much picks up directly where Part 1 left us; on the beach outside Shell Cottage, a lovely seaside house used by the Order as a safehouse. Here they make their plan to find the remaining Horcruxes and defeat Lord Voldemort himself.
The entire film lays the focus on Harry Potter himself, with only a brief stop at Severus Snape station. Hermione is ultimately reduced to being Ron’s love interest, similarly with Ginny Weasley to Harry. While they hold up at the start, especially during the break-in to Gringotts where it feels like the trio are off on another adventure, once they got their separate ways upon leaving the Room of Requirements later in the film, their roles are reduced from major co-stars to the level of Professor Sprout (who does make a nice appearance).
In fact, there seems to be a lack of a decent female lead. As said, Hermione and Ginny are reduced to love interests and Luna is just a guide. Both Professor McGonnagal (Maggie Smith) and Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) do get their shining moments (both of whom were relatively quiet and then become total badasses in the face of adversity), but they are only brief. Even Helena Bonham Carter is sidelined, which is highly disappointing as she always delivers as seen in previous films.
Despite this, the performance of Daniel Radcliffe is one of his best yet. It’s clear that, over the years being in touch with such stellar actors that have appeared in the series, he has learnt and developed his style and some of the more emotional moments of the film allow him to shine. As he surveys what his actions have done to his friends and his home, little touches in his expressions say something words could not. Similarly with Ralph Fiennes, his portrayal of Lord Voldemort hits its peak here with some truly sinister moments that is sure to send a tingle down many a spine.
However, it’s the single focus on Harry’s struggle and no-one else’s, especially during the huge Battle of Hogwarts, that makes everyone else’s contribution less weighty than it could have been. A number of deaths occur, both minor and major, throughout the course of the Battle of Hogwarts but are left flat. They have the potential to be jarring moments that could make even the most battle-hardened of person shed a single tear but those moments are all too quickly passed over in favour of another Harry moment. It’s not as though they had a time constraint because this, after all, is the shortest of the films and could’ve easily done with another 30 minutes to add a more weighty impact to some of those deaths.
Having said this, though, it is brilliant to finally see proper duels which have been teased throughout the series. Ever since the end of Order of the Phoenix, I have wanted more all out, balls to the wall, no holds barred duelling and Deathly Hallows Part 2 delivers. From Molly vs Bellatrix, to Neville vs The Snatchers, to little Professor Flitwick vs the Giants, spells whizz and zoom while the castle, once majestic, crumbles around them.
But amongst all this is the truth about Snape. In one last trip into the Pensieve, everything becomes clear. What his motivations where and so on are all portrayed spectacularly by Alan Rickman who, otherwise, doesn’t get enough stage time. This is truly his best performance of the series.
These performances and brilliant moments, such as the break in at Gringotts and the battles in the courtyard of Hogwarts, are marred by the fact it feels too rushed as I mentioned before. Molly Weasley’s shining moment, albeit it great, is too short. Many side characters don’t have enough room to shine. And it seems that, in a number of instances, Yates favoured action over emotion and, in the finale where emotion is key, it just doesn’t work. It’s linearity to get to the end is it’s downfall here. But the spectacle and the final victory of good vs evil is a fitting end to the series.
(originally posted here)