Concluding a saga of 8 films spanning over 10 years was never going to be an easy task. Concluding it in a satisfying manner was going to be even harder – especially when the final book is a huge tome. The studio took the decision whether for the right reasons (to tell the story properly) or the wrong (to make more money) to split the book into two films and I already rambled about the first part here. So Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
I liked how the film picks up exactly where the last one left off, and I mean exactly – I hope that when the DVD comes they do a “Complete cut” that doesn’t break down the middle. There’s not re-caps or anything it just throws you back into the story. When the film gets going it starts to move very quickly – there’s a couple of brief discussions whilst they set the scene before everyone’s off continuing the quest setup in the last film. This leads through a couple of big set pieces (the Gringotts trolley ride could’ve been much longer and still enjoyable) to the main meat of the film which is the battle of Hogwarts which consumes the second half of the film. Bringing in a large cast of extras and trying to cause as much damage as possible it seems.
The book contains some of the harder to film scenes in the franchise – focussing more on what characters are feeling/thinking, balanced along side scenes of intense action. Though talking about these action scenes a complaint I’d have of the film is that the main trio never really gets involved in these meaning you never really see them beyond the opening salvos – after a couple of great shots the focus moves to other objectives and areas of the castle away from where the main action is taking place and only briefly touching on this at different times when it provides more an obstacle to get through rather than the focus of the scene. This is a good approach, but given the effort that has obviously gone into making the devastation as big as possible it would’ve been nice to have seen some of this actually happening. I also though it was very inventive planning out the wand fights as sword fights with just a greater distance between the characters.
The adult cast of the film really knocks it out the park, all providing fantastic performances – Maggie Smith bringing a certain Glee to one of her (few) lines, though a big mention has to go to Alan Rickman he provides a beautifully nuanced performance and is finally able to show the hidden back story and depths that have been kept out of the picture till the closing stages. Rickman’s performance gives a real emotional punch to the scenes he’s in and is truly the standout performance of the saga – one of the biggest flaws of the film was that he didn’t appear in it enough. Tom Felton, Jason Isaaces and ??? all deserve strong mentions for their portrayal of the Malfoy family. As a group of people they are broken and torn, thrown into a situation where it doesn’t appear that any of them want to be and stuck with no escape – my only problem (and this is hidden in white text to try and avoid spoiling) was that my interpretation of Dumbledore asking Snape to kill him was to save Draco from becoming a murderer with blood on his hands, rather than Draco would be killed if the mission failed. End spoilers
While the film hits hard at points it also remains a kids film meaning that some of the bigger punches are more hinted at and implied, not necessarily a bad thing and the film isn’t afraid to show the pain and effects that loss and death can have on the characters with the main story of the film ending on a very downbeat note, with the light of dawn and hope starting to shine though. The epilogue on the end of the film feels a bit strange – it’s good to see the hope that things can get better but the characters don’t look to have really aged for a sequence taking place 20 years later, I’m sure a better job could’ve been done with the make-up and prosthetics to try and age the actors more, but it also keeps a more obvious link to the characters we already know.
This film had a very hard brief to fill from the start. It had to wrap up and conclude the storyline, whilst also providing the climatic final battles that the series has been building towards. All in all the film provides a satisfying conclusion to the Harry Potter Saga and what more could you want?