Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 review

I've been a huge fan of the Harry Potter movies since the first one was released 10 years ago. I've not read the novels but have been enthralled, captivated, excited and touched by the films, uneven in quality though they have been over the years. And I love the fact that these massive studio blockbusters have never employed any American actors. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-US by any means (my mother's American for God's sake), but I adore the clipped British accents that can be heard amidst all the state-of-the-art CGI trickery.

And now the series comes to an end - and a most pleasing finish it is, a relentless exercise in sound and fury, stopping only at cunningly judged intervals to take a breath.

Don't ask me to give you a detailed rundown of the plot. I didn't have much of a clue what was going on but it's so entertaining and engaging that it doesn't matter. The subtle character dynamics will doubtlessly delight the Potterheads while the more casual moviegoer will be swept up by the ambitious doom-laden scenario. It picks up exactly from where Part 1 finished, with no refresher course given to remind you of salient plot points.

Harry, Ron and Hermione have to track down the last horcrux, a deadly snake that resides with arch evildoer Voldemort as he lays siege to Hogwarts in his search for the chosen boy. But first they have to do battle at Gringotts Bank before racing to the school for a heroic showdown with the villain. Prize wands and special swords play a part in the ensuing battle, which has a Lord of the Rings tinge to it if not quite the same scale.

We also get some back story regarding Harry's history, with flashbacks to his parents and the machinations that occurred between Snape (Rickman) and Dumbledore (Gambon). But it's the climactic battle that takes centre stage. Voldemort and his army malevolently descend upon the building with Harry and his cohorts enlisting all their schoolfriends to help them defend themselves against the dark one.

Ralph Fiennes has a fine old time playing the ultimate baddie. He certainly looks as if he's enjoying himself when taunting the youngsters, while many old faces from the previous films pop up for a second or two. A quick glimpse of Timothy Spall here, a brief shot of Emma Thompson there, blink and you'll miss Miriam Margolyes, while Gary Oldman makes a welcome return as Sirius Black for one scene. More or less everyone is present and correct, with Ciaran Hinds and Kelly Macdonald being the two newcomers to the illustrious supporting cast.

And support they are, as every film has relied upon Radcliffe, Watson and Grint to shoulder the proceedings. And here they rise to the occasion with aplomb. Daniel is slowly maturing (stubble helps) into a convincing and polished performer. Emma is customarily terrific though here Hermione's fierce intelligence takes a back seat to Ron's new found ideas and confidence. Rupert still mumbles at times and is difficult to understand but is as good a foil to the other two as ever. The three of them are wonderful together and make this agreeable final chapter a highly enjoyable experience. Right at the end, we see the characters 19 years later, and this is a most rewarding touch to the blockbuster franchise. They've not put a foot wrong with this one. Marvellous.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at IMDb
Official Site

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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