Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

directed by David Yates

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 poster  

Harry Potter's come a long way since the days of quidditch and every-flavour beans by the end of the series. In part two of The Deathly Hallows he faces the ultimate rite of passage: he must defeat Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). But to do that he has to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes. These are splinterings of the dark wizard's soul that he has used to make himself immortal.

Meanwhile Snape (Alan Rickman) is running Hogwarts and the Death Eater's reign of terror has extended its reach across the entire wizarding world. Voldemort has the Elder Wand in his possession, which is the most powerful wand in the wizarding world. He seems unassailable, and he's focused on finding Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and putting him out of his way for good. Harry and his friends scarcely know where to go to look for the horcruxes, nor how to destroy them, and they feel increasingly isolated.

Visually the movie is quite grey, its subdued tones in keeping with the oppressive atmosphere of a terrorised community. The body count is quite high. But it's not all bleak and depressing. There's a rollercoaster ride under Gringotts bank, and later a thrilling escape on the back of a dragon. These are in the book briefly, but in the movie the scenes look as though they've been over-emphasised because it's the sort of thing that looks good in 3D, and it's a bit incongruous. Nevertheless, it adds a dash of excitement to the story.

However there are serious consequences for everything Harry does in the story, and the tone is pretty heavy. There are plenty of poignant moments when Harry thinks about those he has lost, and a few downright mushy scenes, in between all the action. It's moving, and this is certainly not the feelgood experience of some of the earlier films in the Harry Potter series.

Sometimes you really need to read the book to understand a film. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 doesn't explain everything clearly, and in order to maintain its pace some things are portrayed sketchily, if at all. People who haven't read the book might struggle to follow Snape's role in the story, or the significance of the Deathly Hallows objects, or some of the finer details about wizard history and horcruxes. I felt like I needed to watch the movie twice to pick up all the nuances.

Wizards can look more or less any way they like without it affecting their ability to wave a wand and shout Latin-sounding spells, so some of their style choices are surprising. Neville (Matthew Lewis) goes to battle in a cardy stolen from the 1940s, whilst Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) seems to be wearing a sack at one point. For the Death Eaters, unrelieved black is the colour of choice, and Voldemort himself dresses like a priest. The wardrobe choices seem somewhat uninspired, and they don't really add another layer of meaning to the story or make it as visually interesting as it could be. It's left to the light shows with wands and other magical effects to provide the main eye candy.

There's an epilogue set 19 years in the future, when we see some of the surviving characters supposedly older. They still look like teenagers, though, and their clothes are very contemporary. It's as though muggle fashion never filters through to the world of wizards.

This movie is all leading up to the heroic last stand and final showdown that's been so long in preparation, and it delivers on its promise. It's stirring, and Harry and his friends are quietly brave and determined, but it's a little more drab than I expected.

19th July 2011

Film Details

Year: 2011

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about David Yates