After ten years, four directors and support cast that reads like a BAFTA fantasy team, Harry Potter has finally come to an end. And what an end it is… With all the backstory and exaggerated teen-angst finally dealt with, David Yates has produced an adrenaline-pumped climax that makes the decision to split the book look like a no-brainer. The franchise deserved an epic finale which transcends all that has come before and Deathly Hallows 2.0 delivers. Where some of its most recent predecessors have laboured like Hagrid’s broomstick under the weight of backstory, clumsy editing, teen angst and Harry’s own moral dilemmas, this finale surges like a brand new Firebolt.
It doesn’t take legilemency to see that Warner Brothers have been lining up this film since Order of the Phoenix wrapped, and after five hours of exposition, they’ve finally created enough space for a crescendo that not only does the book justice, but surpasses it spectacularly. Apart from balancing the characters more reasonably this time around (the previously sidelined Neville and Professor McGonagall both shine) Yates has also enhanced several of the novel’s key scenes wonderfully. Indeed Rowling’s Gringotts break-in feels a little pedestrian when compared to the epic scale of Part Two’s opening salvo.
Following rapid interrogations of Ollivander and shark-eyed goblin Griphook, Harry, Hermione and Ron set off to steal the fourth horcrux *counts fingers* from Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault deep in the bowels of the Wizard Bank. Seeing Hermione wander around Diagon Alley disguised as the Voldemort’s right-hand-woman will raise a smile, but the subsequent escape via Dragon pulls the scene off the page and dumps it straight into Lord of the Rings territory. An action sequence which eclipses anything else the franchise has produced inside the first 15 minutes is a statement of intent if ever there was one. After a nearly a decade of doing talking hats, Quidditch matches and Dobby (may he rest in peace) the CGI team have finally been given permission to push the button.
That button certainly stays pushed for the rest of the movie and the trio’s bolt from the Room of Requirement is another finely realised piece of foot-to-the-floor carnage, yet there is more to Deathly Hallows 2.0’s success than epic action sequences. Few who have read the novel will deny that Rowling’s final tome belongs to Severus Snape and that angle is not lost amid the frenetic pace. His duel with McGonagall is one of the many little side-scenes that fans will be looking forward to, but his game-changing memoirs are also given the prestige they deserve. Yates made the mistake of eschewing much of Voldemort’s backstory in the sixth film, but Alan Rickman enjoys some decent screen time and a nice face-lift to boot here. If they could make Snape look younger for those scenes then I wonder why they couldn’t do the opposite for Daniel Radcliffe in the film’s much-anticipated denouement…
Picking out highlights isn’t an easy task as so much of the material is blended superbly, but one cult scene that falls a little flat is the face-off between Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange. Both characters deserved more of a send-off than they received – especially the under-used Bellatrix – but in the end Julie Walter’s flame-haired matriarch is robbed of the conviction and skill that Rowling the author bestows upon her. If the famous “Bitch!” scene doesn’t quite resonate, the the final battle between HP and Big V certainly does. In the book, their duel is limited to an Eastwood-like stand-off, but here Yates pushes their skirmish up a couple of notches and they end up going at it like Annakin and Obi-Wan as they blast their way through Hogwarts. Whichever way you look at it, Harry Potter is finally kicking some ass..