Science fiction and fantasy
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
directed by David Yates
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.
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
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Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about David Yates