Oh dear. I remember when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the last installment of the HP phenomenon, came out in the summer I was all ready for a wham, bam send off for the young wizard and his pals. Unfortunately the resulting film, which follows Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) as they come face to face with Harry’s arch nemesis Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) for one final devastating confrontation within the walls (or what’s left of them) of the hallowed Hogwarts, finished as rather more of a damp squib. Many of those leaving the cinema may have been in tears at the thought that the exploits of their magical hero had finally come to an end. My tears on the other hand were those of relief that it was at last all over.
Jump forward a few months and I agreed to review the DVD release of the film. Maybe, I naively thought, viewed now once the dust (and hype) had settled, the film could be considered more subjectively and seen as a just finale to what had been if not a classic then at least a memorable cinematic septet. So, can it?
The answer, unfortunately, is no. The truth is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, is actually ‘deathly’ dull. Once you’ve got rid of the cgi dragons and pyrotechnic explosions (of which there are an awful lot), there is nothing left of any substance. What remains feels like a piece of chewing gum stretched too long over one hundred and thirty minutes, but which after an hour has lost much of it’s flavor. You can’t help but feel that Warner Brothers, the studio behind the massive franchise, could have condensed the final two films which together run for almost five hours by half and lost nothing, whilst coming up with a much tighter final installment. However, as with most major fantasy / Sci-fi productions now days, if the powers that be can see a way of making an extra buck, forget about anything as mundane as quality or artistic integrity.
Perhaps I’m cynical – I do after all fall outside the main age group at which the stories are aimed. Surely the film has something in it’s favor? Well yes, but not what I believe it should. The only things, apart from the special effects and all-out final battle which is, I grudgingly admit, impressive, which manage to spark any interest are the adult actors. The likes of Maggie Smith, Julie Walters and Emma Thompson only have to walk past to cast a spell which is entrancing, and makes the younger cast pale into insignificance. Which is unfortunate as, for the most part, that is all they are given the opportunity to do in this outing – Thompson in particular only being glanced briefly during the final battle.
For this is after all Harry’s film, his Armageddon and his final chance to prove (which he does) that he has matured into a fully fledged wizard. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Radcliffe and co’s acting abilities, which don’t seem to have moved on much from when they first boarded the Hogwarts’ Express ten years ago. One should remember of course that, though we feel we’ve known them for a lifetime, the trio are only the age now at which most actors are getting their first big break. So perhaps their best is yet to come?
The obligatory DVD extras include a behind-the-scenes feature called The Goblins of Gringotts, in which Warwick Davis guides us through the processes involved in ‘becoming’ a goblin. These, along with an introduction to the main film by J K Rowling herself make interesting additions. However by the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 the legend that was Harry Potter, like the piece of gum I mentioned earlier, has lost much of it’s original zest and freshness. Let’s just hope that Rowling, Radcliffe and their legion of fans, move on and are not tempted to keep chewing at it again and again.
Director: David Yates
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Runtime: 130 min
Country: UK, USA