Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II * * * 1/2

Genre: Fantasy

Director: David Yates

Writer: Steve Kloves, based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Wright, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton

Running Length: 130 minutes

Synopsis: Continuing right where Part I left off, Part II begins with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes)locating the Elder Wand, one of the three items that constitute the Deathly Hallows. Having already destroyed three Horcruxes, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) continue the search to make Voldemort mortal again, including a return to and a last stand at Hogwarts. It is soon apparent that Harry Potter may have to make the ultimate sacrifice if he wants to prevent the Dark Lord from reigning supreme over the wizarding world.

Review: Part II of The Deathly Hallows is everything the first part wasn’t – concise, precise and engaging throughout, the shortest film in the entire Harry Potter canon happens to be one of its best as well. Because much of the exposition and meandering was done in Part I, Part II begins in the thick of the action and doesn’t let up till the very end, and because this truly is THE end, the sense of urgency is palpable and much appreciated – no dragging of heels in this film unlike every single Potter film before it.

Given the leeway of two movies, it’s little wonder that resident scribe Steve Kloves’ screenplay is nothing short of being slavishly faithful to the source material. It’s a little more understandable and tolerable in the final film since any omissions would have legions of fans up in arms, and at least all the important action unfolds in this installment so audiences aren’t left hanging. The film’s pacing is also vastly improved especially when the focus shifts back to Hogwarts.  

However, this is a caveat for viewers who are not familiar with the Harry Potter universe – prior knowledge is a necessity as almost nothing is explained in this film, and even audience members who are familiar with the films are advised to at least watch Part I again before venturing into the cinemas for Part II.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have been immersed in their roles for a decade, but to be honest their performances have never been outstanding, especially because the movies have always roped in a large number of British acting greats to act beside them. In this final installment, the list of British actors is by far the longest (unfortunately, many esteemed actors like Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent don’t speak more than a couple of lines each), which means the young actors have an even greater obstacle to overcome. However, having been through this for such a long time means that despite their deficiencies, the trio share excellent chemistry and many audience members are too vested in the characters to care about acting quality.

It’s also interesting to note how far the visual effects have come since the first film, and the visuals in Deathly Hallows Part II are about as good as it can get. Aiming for a much more monochromatic look and gritty feel than in the previous films, Deathly Hallows Part II shines most in battle sequences, especially in the finale sequence where no expense was obviously spared. Having only seen this in digital 2D, I am not able to judge if the 3D elements are retrofitted successfully onto the film – but somehow I think watching the film without a third dimension might actually serve it better.

This is likely to be the definitive last film of the Harry Potter franchise, and it’s amazing to look back at the past decade and see how far the franchise has come. It’s an excellent send off and ends the franchise on the best possible note, to be sure, but there will be plenty of fans wishing that more could follow, especially since Deathly Hallows Part II has managed to deliver everything it promised. Already the most successful film franchise of all time, there’s no doubt that Harry Potter is here to stay, and despite this curtain closer would definitely continue to thrive in other iterations and formats.

Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of four stars)

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