14 years since its inception, the ĎHarry Potterí name has grown to be a billion dollar franchise, one that is now the highest grossing film series of all time, and one that many an audience, both young and old, have watched mature on the big screen for a decade. But all good things must come to an end and what an exhilarating finale this is. Naturally, a knowledge of the previous installments is required before settling in for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 as it picks up precisely where Part 1 (rather abruptly) ended.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two best friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are continuing their quest to destroy the evil Lord Voldemort (a wonderfully sinister Ralph Fiennes), who is in the final stages of securing enough power to launch an attack on the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy, and override the worlds of good magic with his dark forces. Our heroic trio have learnt that destroying a series of dark, magical objects known as Horcruxes, which in themselves are all somehow connected to Voldemort, will weaken him and bring about their best chance of defeat.
These films already have a built-in fanbase and elaborating further on the backstory seems pointless as youíre either a Potter fan or not, and this film caters faithfully to the devotees by foregoing any opening credits and dropping right us into the thick of it. Part 1 set up the story thatís merely referenced here, and the lack of any exciting action is more than made up for as the final battle is practically stretched over the course of the filmís running time (a surprisingly svelte 130 mins) resulting in a far more epic outcome; box office aside, it made sense to break the films into two parts, and those left slightly bored by the predecessor should feel richly rewarded.
The previously unknown David Yates, who has helmed the last four Potter films, has found a comfortable blend as director incorporating all the elements that has made each film a success. The excitement and sense of magic introduced over the first two films by director Chris Columbus (Home Alone) is still present but has been merged with the darker current Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien) brought to part 3, before Yates found his niche blending these along with the inevitable growth the series would take as both these characters and actors grew up in front of us. Radcliffe, Grint and Watson are not known for anything else other than Harry, Ron and Hermione and they have so perfectly inhabited these roles that they donít even need to try.
In fact, everyone is pitch-perfect. The lovely Maggie Smith as Professor McGonogal is an absolute delight to watch when she gets to take charge in defending Hogwarts, Helena Bonham Carter is beguiling as the devillish Bellatrix Lestrange and Alan Rickman shines as the long misunderstood Professor Snape who features in one of the filmís more heartbreaking sequences regarding one of the most complex characters written in young adult literature.
Itís no small feat to bring a series of this magnitude to a close, and everyone on board must be commended, especially as each film has essentially had the same cast and crew thus building the sense of familiarity we feel. Who knows how long it will take for it to sink in that this is indeed the end, but what a fantastic end it is - there was even a hearty round of applause at the end of the screening. Goodbye Mr Potter, itís been a brilliant journey.
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