Wednesday, 6 July 2011


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All good things must come to an end, and good things come to those who wait. And for most people who have waited the almost 10 years for the final film in the adaptations of author J.K. Rowling's saga of the boy wizard - the boy who lived, Harry Potter - The Deathly Hallows Part 2 will affirm those opening sentiments, however bitter sweet.

Yet we've always known this day was coming and, for those of us who read the seven books (7 not 8, Warner Bros!), we knew how it all would end, provided, of course, director David Yates (at the helm since HP#5, The Order of the Phoenix) and screenwriter Steve Kloves (who penned all but the Phoenix script) didn't practice some black magic of their own.

There's little here to raise the hackles of hardcore Potter fans, and some minor surprises for those who aren't; overall The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a fitting farewell to a pop culture phenomenon, going out on a high if falling shy of greatness. But for all its deference to Potter lore, Rowling (also a producer) and her readers, there's more cinematic art on display - production design, score and special FX are as ace as ever - than actual heart.

Granted there's some important business/action to take care of first. Picking up almost exactly where the overlong and padded-out Part 1 ended, Part 2 sees our eponymous bespectacled hero (Daniel Radcliffe) and his BFF's, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), in search of the remaining Horcruxes, those enchanted objects housing remnants of Lord Voldermort's soul. It's a search that involves breaking in to Gringott's Bank (before escaping on the back of a dragon) and returning to Hogwarts for the final showdown between good and evil.

The School of Wizardry and Witchcraft has much changed since we first entered its hallowed halls in 2001's The Philosopher's Stone. With the death of beloved headmaster, Albus Dumbeldore (Michael Gambon, finally growing into the role originated by the late Richard Harris), at the climax of HP#6, The Half Blood Prince, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) has assumed control of the school; no doubt the reason the mood in the Great Hall is as dank as his hair.

Rickman has been one of the shining lights of the many veteran British thesps (Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Jim Broadbent to name just three) who have graced the Potter world, and in a brief but explanatory flashback sequence, we learn the true nature of the snarling, one-time Potions teacher which will come as a great surprise to those who haven't cracked a copy of Rowling's final tome.

But it's Voldermort whom Harry has returned to school for, rallying his professors and fellow students to take up wands against the approaching dark forces and buying he, Ron and Hermione time in their search for the Horcruxes.

Of course, finding them won't prevent duelling wands at midnight, and we wouldn't have it any other way: the ultimate face-off between the Boy Who Lived and He Who Can't Be Named is what we've been anticipating these past 10 years. And Ralph Fiennes, having arrived with Voldermort's resurrection in HP#4, The Goblet of Fire, finally gets to cut loose as the Dark Lord.

As someone who has spent countless hours in the Harry Potter universe, on paper and celluloid, all of these events are rendered faithfully, and excitingly, enough. But ultimately I wanted to feel something; if not catharsis then a genuine loss at akin to a good friend's leave taking. But I didn't experience any great emotions during The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (though I was heartened by the heroic completion of Neville Longbottom's story arc) and I minded that, I really did.

Perhaps this is partly due to my growing disconnect with the films. For me, the Potter series peaked with The Goblet of Fire (also my favourite of the books), when Voldemort is successfully restored to life and people start to die. Unlike some, I enjoyed the dark turn J.K. Rowling's saga took from there, but strangely I've felt somewhat detached from Yates' corresponding films.

That's not to take anything away from the overall consistency of quality across all eight films which has seen Harry Potter become the most successful franchise in film history. $6.3 billion internationally after 7.1 and as I write this, 7.2 has broken the Australian box office record for an opening day, grossing some $7 million; no doubt boosted by being screened in 3D (the only real blight on the series), which will add to the coffers but does nothing for the viewing experience (see it in 2D if you can).

The film's epilogue doesn't help either, ending the film, as it does the book, on a bum note. I won't spoil it for those who haven't read the last of J.K. Rowling's books by revealing what happens, suffice it to say what barely worked in print doesn't work at all on film. It's just another reason why The Deathly Hallows Part 2 misses out on greatness, but it's a goodbye that's good enough.


  1. I totally agree DR, i enjoyed it but felt some parts were not quite there. I look forward to watching part 1 and 2 back to back on my home TV... i think they will work much better!

  2. I think The Deathly Hallows may improve on DVD/Blu-ray, where one can watch in one sitting, fast forward through those camping scenes from Part 1, and there will hopefully be some restored/deleted scenes re: Dumbledore's past.