You’ll notice this review is shorter than the previous one. I was asked to keep it shorter so there would be room on the page for art.
After more than a decade, seven books and this, the eighth film, the Harry Potter saga has finally come to an end. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” serves as a fitting and satisfying finale to one of the most popular series in recent memory.
The sheer length of J.K. Rowling’s final book necessitated splitting it into two movies. It’s a good thing, too. It allowed the final chapter to address the many plot points appropriately, with proper weight and without feeling rushed.
The movie starts off right where “Part 1” ended. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have made their daring escape from Malfoy Manor and Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) clutches. The three are still hunting horcruxes, dark magical artifacts that they must destroy to have any shot at finally defeating Voldemort. Director David Yates pushes the action to a level not seen in previous Potter movies. It is a welcome change from “Part 1,” which included many walking and camping scenes. The first half of the movie involves a bold bank heist using Polyjuice Potion, a dragon and some crooked goblins, and the momentum keeps going with Harry’s return to Hogwarts.
The siege of Hogwarts by Voldemort and his Deatheaters offers stunning visuals as the students and staff fortify and subsequently defend themselves from the forces of evil. Yates also delivers several fan-favorite scenes during the siege including the truth about Snape (Alan Rickman); Molly Weasley’s (Julie Walters) duel with Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter); the escape from the Room of Requirement; and, yes, Ron and Hermione’s long-awaited kiss.
The character-driven moments are effective and feel genuine. The three leads are good, carrying their weight more so than in any other film thus far. However, it’s the performances from the supporting cast that really stand out. In previous films, Fiennes had limited screen time as Voldemort. But he steals the show this time. It’s a testament to his ability as an actor that it’s so easy to forget there’s a human under that heavy makeup. The same is true of Warwick Davis, who plays the goblin Griphook. As always, Rickman is superb as Snape. He brings the same deliberate delivery fans have come to expect, but he also displays an emotional depth previously unseen.
However, the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort felt a bit lacking. It could have benefited from being drawn out more to increase the tension. The scene is different from the book, which is fine. But it could have also benefited from Harry’s monologue and banter with Voldemort. It would have contextualized the moment and the importance of it better. It’s doubtful that hardcore fans will mind, though.
Those same fans also will be happy to know that Yates included the epilogue from the book. It works, too. It’s sincere and heartwarming. More importantly, it definitely leaves the door open for more sequels even though Rowling said the series is finished.
The script, direction, performances and effects make this movie a cinematic achievement and perfect ending to the much beloved series. Although this is the last film, Harry Potter will certainly live on beyond the Deathly Hallows.