I’ve always had a love/hate issue with the Harry Potter films. For every bit of the books they get so damned right something is horribly off-key; though every other part is cast perfectly, the risk they took in casting Daniel Radcliffe never seemed to pay off. He always looks awkward in front of the camera in HP in a way that none of the other child actors did, though when he’s being interviewed he comes across as a lovely, witty bloke who I have a lot of time for. Rupert Grint’s always been excellent, and Emma Watson’s eyebrow acting may not be perfect but she carries her roles with an ease that it’s taken Radcliffe a decade to discover (more I suspect because she’s more Hermione than he is Harry, but that’s another matter).
That said, Deathly Hallows Part 2 rocks. Radcliffe excels. The special effects are stunning. It’s a splendiferous, riveting, stupidly well-made cinematic offering.
It’s quite something to see Dementors shooting out of the screen and to see flames rush towards your face. I’ve never been a fan of 3D but this film makes a case for it – more because it is the action-heavy partner (3D is totally an action film affectation) to the slightly heavy, lumbering first part, which was still very good, but pales in comparison to Part 2. This is a neater film. This is fuller, matured, with complete character arcs and a full spectrum of emotions and stunning moments, everything the other films have built up to; this film was the closest to the books since Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire. We’re given more than the story and the characters – it’s a visual translation of the world from the book, full of life and vigour. I could almost taste the dust in the air when Hogwarts was attacked. I felt proper panic when the defences began to fall. I don’t even remember any of the music, I was that engrossed in the film.
I’m trying not to make this too spoilery, but the main drawback is the same as in the book: the epilogue. Seriously, I was riveted to my seat throughout until Ginny’s hair appeared and oh god no, no, guys. No. We left laughing AT the film instead of with it. Error.
Another thing – the deaths. The emotional resonance is all with Harry, all the way through, but his relationship with the Weasleys (as the only family he’s grown up with who genuinely love him and who he loves back) is vital to the warmth of the books almost as much as the trio’s friendship is the emotional core, and then the Order give him grown-up support that he continually lacks. I hope there’s more on the DVD because oh, boy, it felt like such a slither of a moment for his big decision to turn on. It was so close to being as heart-wrenching as it was in the book, but just skims it, just. Full points to Radcliffe for that acting, though. I suppose it’s hard to make JK Rowling’s words fit the screen for that moment because it’s one of my favourite chapters of the books. Dammit guys, I wanted PERFECTION! Ain’t so much to ask.
Everything else rocked my socks off, not gonna mess about. The kisses were hilarious in a feel-good heart-warming “Woo! Team Hogwarts!” sort of way and were duly accompanied by whoops and cheers and applause from the audience. Snape’s emotional response face can be summarized as this: D: which is an odd thing to say about Alan Rickman, but there you go. I had a proper wilty soggy moment about Snape though – I had soggy moments two or three times but that one was as tough as it was in the books. Snape! SNAPE! I love you, man. And Luna’s still a legend, she’s my girl. Yes, you shout at Harry Potter, sweetheart! Not enough people shout at Harry Potter, even when he deserves it! And McGonagall, style icon. I will be McGonagall when I grow up.
Oh man and Neville. Neville, you HERO! More people should wear jumpers when defending magical schools from evil people. It is a style choice of KINGS.
Last word has to be saved for Ralph Fiennes. Voldemort’s developed from a weird slightly pantomime-y villain into a truly chilling antagonist; he was a horror, dark and gloating and delightfully wicked. The film is thick with the all-pervasive sense of fear and everything at risk. He stalks around with a genuine sense of menace and evil, countered by Daniel Radcliffe’s suddenly clear-eyed and selfless and thoroughly convincing Harry Potter, and oh god that showdown was so satisfying.
I have to see it again, I have worked myself into a geek frenzy.
Excellent work from the film-makers in every aspect. It was a marvellous send-off for good ol’ Harry, though I bet there will be other journeys into the world of Harry Potter in future. A part of me wishes they’d left it until the books were all out before they’d started making the films, but so it goes. It ended well, justice was done. But argh epilogue. ARGH.
(Thank you Natalie! xxx)