Signifying the end of a 10-year cinematic journey, stretching across 8 films at a cost of over one billion dollars, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 concludes (albeit temporarily) one of the most successful story adaptations of all time. With the 8 films standing in good stead alongside their equally successful literary counterparts, JK Rowling’s story of witches, wizards and a boy called Harry Potter has been transformed into one of the biggest franchises in cinematic history. The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, assembles its memorable characters for one last battle between the forces of good and evil, a battle which is nothing short of spectacular.
Having received the increasingly common Hollywood sequel splitting treatment (seen in the likes of The Hunger Games and The Hobbit), the film has the privilege of being up able to pick the story up from exactly where The Deathly Hallows Part 1 left off. With Voldemort in possession of the almighty Elder Wand, Hogwarts has been occupied by forces of evil. The odds are stacked against Harry, Hermione and Ron, as well as their depleting allies. To make matters worse, the three companions are yet to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, which are pivotal to the downfall of he who shall not be named. This is the agenda from the off and it sets the film on a brisk pace, with no time left to linger too heavily on the events of previous instalments.
The payoff for splitting The Deathly Hallows into two cinematic instalments is clear for all to see. JK Rowling herself has been cited as describing this final film as a “war movie”, which is a testament to the spectacle and pacing of the film, which is lacking the typical drawn out mystery element of previous instalments. After a frantic trip to Gringotts bank, full of dragon fire, deception and wacky cart rides, it isn’t long before we’re meeting a newly introduced, yet fairly undeveloped character of relevance to the deceased Dumbledore. Before long, our heroes are back in Hogwarts, back to where it all began, in the hope of destroying Voldemort, once and for all.
From this point on, the film plays out like an extended final story act, a lengthy spectacular climax, granted enough time to indulge in wand battles and Horcrux expeditions, thanks to the efforts of its stop gap predecessor. The battle than ensues throughout the film makes up for the lingering journey of Part 1, as the audience is treated to exploding bridges, trolls, spiders, dementors and a whole host of wizarding duels. The set pieces are executed well, and the duels are on par with the likes of those seen in the finale of The Order of the Phoenix. The playful days of escapee dungeon trolls hiding in bathrooms and quidditch matches are long gone. The tone set since the shocking events of The Half Blood Prince is present here, with themes of life and death running rampant throughout. It’s what a family film should be, offering a blend of the fun and frantic, alongside a pinch of tragedy and misfortune.
Most of the characters, whom we’ve become well acquainted with over the years, are essentially the finished article. No more development is needed, except in the case of finalising some love interests, which have sprung up throughout the course of Potter’s journey. Though in the case of Severus Snape, arguably one of the most memorable Potter characters, the audience is treated to a rare insight into his character, one that is not only intriguing, but rewarding, in terms of the value it bestows on Snape’s scenes in previous instalments. The fact that the majority of characters remain exactly the same, in terms of their motivations and so forth, is a testament to the audience’s fondness of such fictional individuals. Furthermore, their portrayals, from the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman and Michael Gambon are never far off perfect, with these esteemed professionals enhancing what were already intriguing and colourful characters on the written page.
Ranking as the highest (and only) Harry Potter film on IMDB’s top 250 list, the impact The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 had on its worldwide audience cannot be underestimated. To satisfactorily resolve such a well-loved story, with much of its fan base still clinging onto the authority of the original books, is no easy task. It may not be the best story of the entire series (which is naturally lacking), but it certainly offers the best spectacle; a worthy payoff for the decision to split the final book into two films. It’s a fitting farewell to a story and group of characters many of us have long grown up with. Whilst the film ties a neat little bow on Potter’s journey, it’s unsurprisingly a loose fitting one, with another book and spin off movie already in the works, which will do well to build on the legacy left behind by this epic finale and its notable predecessors.
Note: the IMDb Top 250 Cultured Vultures are using is based on the standings from the 16th of November. Inconsistencies may apply.