In the span of a decade, the Harry Potter film franchise brought magic to life. Ripped straight from the pages of the novels by author J.K. Rowling. Not just visually with a variety of spells but with its endearing and timeless characters, their relationships, and the wave of emotions this journey brings you on. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 takes everything that came before it and molds it into a spectacle sized culmination, satisfying both the hardcore fans of the books and those who discovered the boy who lived for the first time on the screen.
Magic fills every frame in the David Yates directed film – his fourth of the franchise. Paired along with seasoned franchise screenwriter Steve Kloves, the two bring the story in for a smooth landing, making tweaks from the source material along the way. Picking right up where Part 1 left off, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) just laid Dobby, the free elf to rest, plan to break into the wizarding bank Gringotts to rummage through Bellatrix Lestrange’s (Helena Bonham Carter) vault in search of a horcrux that will finally weaken and defeat Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
Voldemort and his death eaters have fully taken control, the dark lord has found what he pursued in the elder wand but in his lust for power, Voldemort overlooks the rules of wand lore. Both Deathly Hallow films feature the dense mythology that Rowling first introduces in the novels. Key information that will tilt the favor to the side of Harry and his supporters even when all seems lost, and Harry is struggling to catch up. But this being the second half of a whole and the conclusion of the story that started when Harry lived, Yates and Kloves but the battle of Hogwarts front and center.
Neither can live, while the other survives.
Outside of the Gringotts sequence that plunges you deep beneath the bank with its own adrenaline filled sequence, majority of the 130 minute film takes place on Hogwarts grounds. Since the last time we saw the gothic castle, a lot has changed. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is now headmaster at Voldemort’s request. The once bustling castle is now devoid of all happiness and youthful energy, silence and darkness fills the halls and a students are forced in line by a strict tyrant like style of leading. Despite that, those who support Harry like Neville (Matthew Lewis), Luna (Evanna Lynch), and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) find ways to defy the new wizarding order.
Through the highs and lows, Yates finds harmony between the thrilling action sequences and moments of dramatic somberness and melancholy. Rarely does Part 2 take a breath long enough to reflect on the gravity of the situation but when the breaks in action come, Kloves and Yates make the most of it substituting the steadfast pace with a quiet reverence on the toll this one battle has taken. Repairing the castle and grounds will be easy but the loss Harry, Ron and Hermione experience is irreparable – the damage has been done – Harry never wanted anyone to die for him but the maturity of the character that Daniel has brought over the decade portraying Harry is realizing everyone who lost their life did so fighting for whats right.
Once again the trio of Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are at their best with their naturally maturing chemistry. Kloves ensures the emotional beats land by placing them right after highly tense moments. In this case, the destruction of a horcrux leads to a payoff that has been steadily building for a decade of time. Every emotional moment Harry, Ron and Hermione experience is earned through the journey, and both Deathly Hallow films make it their journey, not just Harry’s.
Featuring a truly awe inspiring ensemble cast, Part 2 lets its supporting characters have their moment to shine. To be fair, every single supporting character has taken every opportunity to thrown at them to shine alongside Radcliffe, Watson and Grint. The smallest of roles are given an equal impact leading to an emotionally unforgettable plethora of satisfaction in their final appearances. No one fits their role better like Alan Rickman playing a Snape whose always in conflict with himself. Elsewhere, Julie Walters Molly provides all of the comfort as the true matriarch and Maggie Smith’s Minerva McGonagall finally lets her hair loose and is given something to do other than discipline children.
Visually, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a stunner providing the best and most realistic effects one can come to expect from a fictitious world. In all the dirt, grime and destruction comes a picturesque and realistic tinge to the castle and its inhabitants. The tone is met with a muted vibrancy that carries over with certain colors popping against the rest. Magic sparks off the screen in dazzling red and green lights but Kloves and Yates find one last way to keep this world firmly grounded, staying true to the franchises roots. Hogwarts, even in its ruin has its charm intact, acting as an unofficial character.
Cinematographer Eduardo Serra puts you in the heat of the action, capturing the same thrilling rollercoaster ride that flying on a broomstick elicited but keeping it on the dirt during the climactic battle. Serra does achieve the flying sensation we’ve come to know on the quidditch pitch in the first act during the Gringotts sequence using exceptional movements while staying intimate and putting the camera firmly on the characters to keep the personal touch.
With a book of this size, breaking the final story in the Harry Potter saga into 2 parts made the most sense. Both Part 1 and 2 feel like 2 complete stories within the grander scope of the wizarding world, each with its own foot to stand on. The tweaks and changes Kloves made from the source material make sense to the world and the result make for a conclusion that is truly rewarding, captivating an entire generation with a generational character. When all is said and done, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a cinematic achievement – not only does it wrap up the story of the boy who lived, it also made magic feel real, that this hidden world exists and finally it humanizes villains once thought were too far gone. Deathly Hallows Part 2 doesn’t take shortcuts to its inevitable showdown. The stakes have never been higher and director of half the films David Yates executes on the fantasy element spectacle the wizarding world has to offer.
Screenplay By: Steve Kloves
Directed By: David Yates
Music By: Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography: Eduardo Serra
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Michael Gambon, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCroy, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch
Where to Watch: Max
Edited By: Mark Day
Release Date: July 15, 2011
Running Time: 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Based On: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling