Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the final instalment of the film franchise that has run for the last 10 years and whose presence on the highest-grossing films of all time is unquestionable. The lead actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have made enough money and garnered so much media hype that they need never work again. The legions of devoted followers of the franchise have sat in the rain, waiting for the tickets to this last chapter like the very best Star Wars and Twilight fans. After 8 films, 7 books, billions of dollars at the box office, a theme park and hundreds of thousands of followers, it all comes down to this.
Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) have to finish the mission left to them by Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) of destroying the remaining horcruxes that contain the fragments of soul belonging to the dark lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). They have to break into Gringotts bank, impersonate Death Eaters and finally return to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry for the final, epic show down between good and evil. All the investigation and adventure is over, from the beginning of the film David Yates brings the series to a climax with the most impressive special effects and tear-jerking moments the book has to offer, and as has been the case throughout, it is almost all completely mishandled.
Having the final book split into two meant that the first part did not have a satisfying ending and this part has no beginning. We are to assume that everybody knows exactly what is happening, which if you haven’t seen part one, you will not. This is only a minor issue though, as the real problems come with the pacing and the key scenes. The book worked so wonderfully because in amongst the heart-pounding action, there were moments of poignancy, which are either rushed or removed entirely, presumably so that they could extend the escape from Gringotts bank and kill off some more innocent goblins for no reason. Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) and Professor McGonagell’s (Maggie Smith) big moments are horribly rushed and the only stand-out moment in the whole film is the truth behind Snape’s (Alan Rickman) actions.
Yates seemed to be on the right track with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, but all that hard work has been immediately brushed away. People are obliterated in their hundreds with no real added emotional effect and the whole film seems to have been shot under the influence of ‘Peruvian instant darkness powder.’ The cast as a whole do their duties well enough, with Grint as always being the strongest of the child actors. The action scenes themselves are actually well handled, with the assault on Hogwarts being impressive and suitably epic.
With so many air-punching and tear-jerking moments on offer from the book, it is astounding how many are ruined by poor direction and a general sense of being hurried along to the end. It is difficult to be surprised how lacklustre the film was because at no point in the franchise have they got it right. But still, with the huge levels of positivity surrounding its release, we are within our rights to demand a little something special from this final chapter. Thankfully it is the last in the series, and it goes out in the same way it introduced itself, with a whimper of disappointment.