Ignoring the ‘hermit in a cave’ demographic, there aren’t that many people who haven’t heard of Harry Potter or JK Rowling. Of this majority, a great many have become ardent fans ever since the publication of The Philosopher’s Stone some 14 years ago. In addition to those who have followed the boy wizard’s every adventure in both print and on celluloid there are some fans that have only followed his exploits on the big screen. Although the narrative itself came to an end with the publication of The Deathly Hallows in 2007 this segment of Potter fandom have had to wait until this July to reach the climax of the adventure.
David Yates (director) and Steve Kloves (writer) have gone to great lengths to ensure that ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2’ is indeed the climax that all the fans deserved. The film cracks along at a rapid pace without feeling rushed and when the inevitable finale is reached there is still room to raise the tension further. There wont be many fans of either the books or the films who come away from this adventure disappointed.
Not every film has kept as close to the original source material as many believe that it should. In particular The Half Blood Prince was so heavily abridged that the film makers were forced into rushed introductions and hurried explanations in The Deathly Hallows part 1 in order to get the plot up to speed. However with this work complete in its predecessor there is nothing to hold up part 2 at all. It is worth noting that the only noticeable reminder of the plot from part 1 the viewers receive is cleverly woven into the scenes with Olivander and Griphook at Shell Cottage. Their input brings even the most casual viewer up to speed before the film takes us into the realm of bank robberies, escaping dragons, secret passages, ghosts, school invasions, war and death.
For a film marketed as being for families there is a lot of death. From the reflective, graveside moments in the opening scenes, to the aftermath of the ‘Battle of Hogwarts’, the grim reaper casts a long shadow over the film. Many casual fans may well be shocked at how many regular favourites are affected. In a subtle departure from the printed text several of the key deaths are handled slightly differently. While Rowling allows us to see through the eyes of others, feeling what they feel, the movie makers give the viewing public the opportunity to draw on their own emotions and memories. It seems an appropriate way to say goodbye to the much loved characters of numerous films.
All the cast are on top form, with regular favourites, Watson, Fiennes and Radcliffe, all relishing their roles. Alan Rickman as Snape again manages to steal every scene he is in and it is arguably Rupert Grint’s best performance as the loyal Ron Weasley. That said, special mention should be made of Matthew Lewis who grasps opportunity to make Neville Longbottom a hero with both hands. His transformation from the comic relief in some of the other films of the series, to a believable rebel leader in this, is subtle and remarkable. There is also an understated change of tack for Helena Bonham Carter playing the magically transformed Hermione.
Each film in the Harry Potter series has grown in scale and visual spectacle, and its no surprise that the effects that fill this film are truly magical. What is unusually refreshing for a summer blockbuster is that these effects are not the be all and end all, allowing the actors to act and the story to be told.
Many fans of Harry Potter will know the stories of JK Rowling writing in a coffee shop in Edinburgh and of her inspirational train ride when the ‘boy who lived’ originally found life. In keeping with both the end of the book and film series’ Harry Potter finds itself at its destination having taken an exciting, and in many cases a life-changing journey. Also, much like their heroes, the members of the ‘Harry Potter generation’ now move on into the wider world buoyed up, and inspired by, the exciting adventures of the boy wizard. The Deathly Hallows part 2 is an appropriate and exciting ending to this much loved series.