…written by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves, directed by David Yates, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, and Alan Rickman.
Pros: Cinematic conclusion to the Harry Potter saga caters to longtime fans with plenty of action and great HP moments.
Cons: As with The Deathly Hallows novel, the plot-holes and video-game seeming plot outline is both simplistic and unclear at times. This is a war movie fundamentally, and not for young kids.
Review: This final HP movie makes up for the sometimes slow and plodding Deathly Hallows Part 1 by moving fast and putting Harry, Ron, and Hermione deeply into their quest and battles from the beginning. Most of the angst and uncertainty of the previous chapter seems forgotten (have to wonder how these two movies would feel back-to-back) as our heroes jump quickly into finding and destroying the remaining horcruxes keeping Voldemort so powerful.
While this part of the plot (find the thing, destroy it) is a little too Legend of Zelda for me, it shows the three characters at their brave and resourceful wizardly best. Unfortunately this doesn’t allow time for some of the more interesting side-stories from the novel – particularly the investigation into Dumbledore’s early life (and sexual preference), which seem conveniently ignored. Director David Yates does deserve a lot of credit for his interpretation of the Severus Snape flashback sequence, which was excellent and more effective than the printed version in finally conveying the why and how of Snape to Harry and the viewer. It’s touching and tragic, and you can’t help but find yourself thinking Snape deserved much better. I also enjoyed the final ghostly meeting with the big D the final act.
Yates also deserves our gratitude for his handling of these last few movies. His approach has been all about the story and the best way to bring it to the big screen, and his audience has clearly been HP fans and initiates. There’s no needless exposition about the way things work in JK’s wizarding world, and anticipated moments like Ron and Hermione finally embracing, or the framing of the shot when Harry steps out of the misty forest to confront Voldemort and his cronies are executed to perfection.
The final battle sequence, which is actually split into about three separate parts, is epic and frightening. If anything, it’s more effective and exciting than the same section from the book. Watching the Hogwarts Professors marshal their defenses, the chase in the Room of Requirement, and the final terrible toll of the Death Eater’s assault on the school (and Harry’s friends and allies) – it’s all there. And it’s grim and frightening. The gray tones, the somber score through much of this is war movie territory. This cinematography, combined with Dumbledore’s statement to Snape in that flashback that he knows he’s sending Harry to his death against Voldemort, seemed like a very effective metaphor for old generals and politicians sending young soldiers to their fate. It’s grim – make no mistake – and disturbing to see these characters we’ve loved and rooted for all these years in such states.
Fortunately this is a world of magic, and good does win over evil, bravery and sacrifice are rewarded, and love proves more powerful than hate and greed. Yes, the bit with the Resurrection Stone seemed a little confusing, and the explanation involving the Elder Wand was no more satisfying on film than it was in the novel. But we Harry Potter fans can enjoy the reaffirmation of the series ending even as we’re sad to see the last of these characters and (actors in those roles ) we’ve so enjoyed over the years.
Bottom Line: Obviously a must-see film for HP fans and a great cinematic experience. The only people sadder than HP fans to see the end: Warner Brothers’ Execs looking to fill the void.