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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 3D (12A)

Rachel Winterbottom on a Potter film that's worth the hype

Published on July 18th 2011.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 3D (12A)

There will be no unmanned boats or skeletal Thestrals taking the students into Hogwarts this year. Foolish wand-waving and silly incantations are prohibited. Those who refuse to conform will be beaten bloody.  We’re in Snape’s Hogwarts now.

After ten years of waiting, Yates and Kloves have given Potter audiences a spectacular ending that does the franchise justice.

The opening to the final film in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series promised dark things. Deathly Hallows Part 2 plunges its audience straight into a planned heist of the formidable Gringotts Wizarding Bank. The stalemate of Part 1 is over, and there’s no damned tent in sight.

The film quickly establishes the situation left at the end of Part 1. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) needs to possess three artefacts, AKA the Deathly Hallows, to become the Master of Death: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Voldemort, being in possession of the Elder Wand and not much caring for the rest, wants to kill Harry Potter and live forever, although for some reason the Harry part must come first.

Harry_Potter_And_The_Deathly_Hallows_Part2_June6newsneaHarry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), meanwhile, are still intent on finding and destroying the remaining Horcruxes that contain Voldemort’s soul so that he can be killed. Unfortunately, he’s on to them.

The three leads embark on a whistle-stop tour of series set pieces past, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. The final stop is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where it’s time for the long-awaited final showdown between Harry and Lord Voldemort.

Like a master of Wizard’s Chess, director David Yates has clearly enjoyed carefully setting up his pieces for the final battle, but not as much as he loves smashing them to smithereens.  It should smart to see the Potterverse collapse after ten years of watching it expand. Yet you can’t help but share Yates’ glee while watching Gringotts Wizarding Bank ravaged by a dragon, Hogwarts reduced to rubble and the Quidditch stadium burned to the ground. It’s the end of an era, and Yates, along with long-term Potter scripter Steve Kloves, wants you to mourn and celebrate in equal measure.

Even divided into two parts, much of the final book is cut. Characters like the deceased Dumbledore’s brother spring from nowhere. Some storylines are brushed over – or swept fully under the rug (Dumbledore’s relationship with fellow wizard Grindelwald, for example). One key character’s death scene is brutally brief. But all this brevity is necessary to keep the momentum going as the body count rises.

There are so many loose ends and characters’ stories to tie up it is inevitable that many characters only have a few moments of screen time, like Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid and most of the Weasleys. However, some get to shine. Namely, Julie Walter’s Molly Weasley as she fiercely defends her family, Helena Bonham Carter channelling Emma Watson’s Hermione, a startling grown-up Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) causing destruction on a mass scale (which he handles with Lancashire aplomb). 

Harry-Potter-And-The-Deathly-Hallows-2-Trailer-Part-Second-Daniel-Radcliffe-Rupert-Grint-Emma-Watson-Tom-Felton-Ralph-Fiennes-David-YatesThe franchise has seen some ropy CGI, but Part 2 makes up for that with some truly breathtaking special effects. Hogwarts defends itself with an impressive stone army at the whim of a gleeful Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith). As convenient a plot mechanism as it is, the Room of Requirement is the location for one of the most astounding set-pieces of the series and validates the 3D conversion.

The limits of the 12A certificate are pushed. People are blown apart, lit on fire and, in one memorable case, set upon by werewolves. For every school child burned alive, there is the kid-safe version of swearing to restore the fine balance between light, and the very dark. For the most part, however, the Harry Potter films have managed to achieve that balance with well-timed, heart-warming humour, which is, as always, distinctly British (who else would drink cups of tea after a fight?). 

This being the finale, the villains get centre stage and they don’t disappoint. There are dementors, trolls and Death Eaters in their hoards as battle commences. Fiennes is, as usual, creepily wheezy as Voldemort, whether he’s paddling through blood or providing one of the oddest moments of the film when he shares an awkward hug with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). There’s even a tender foray into Snape’s (Alan Rickman) past that finally reveals the truth about his intentions.

Watson, Radcliffe and, yes, even Grint, have all matured beyond recognition in their acting abilities. Grint may still be reduced to clowning around for the most part, but even the most hardened of cinemagoers will appreciate his all too brief moment of grief, or cheer silently when Ron and Hermione finally get it on.

The beautiful Watson is, as ever, both vulnerable and inimitable as Hermione. But it’s ultimately Radcliffe who carries the weight, deftly leading up to that key, heart-wrenching moment when Harry’s world crumbles, and he prepares himself for the inevitable walk through the Forbidden Forest.   

Harry_Potter_And_The_Deathly_Hallows_Part_2 %283%29After ten years of waiting, Yates and Kloves have given Potter audiences a spectacular ending that does the franchise justice, and more than justifies splitting the final book in two.

Rating: 8/10                                                                                                                                         

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Jonathan SchofieldJuly 18th 2011.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, largely because I understood it - unlike so many of t'other films. It was pacey and full of perfect CGI bish, bang, bosh action, with a bit of emotion as well. Good wizard fluff for a wet summer's evening.

AnonymousJuly 18th 2011.

I bawled my eyes out all the way through. Loved it

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