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Should I Watch..? Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part Two
What's the big deal?
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part Two is an action fantasy film released in 2011 and is the eight and final film in the Harry Potter series. Shot at the same time as the previous instalment, it is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by J.K. Rowling featuring the boy wizard Harry Potter. It was released amid global anticipation and would go onto to become one of the biggest films of all time, the only film in the series to earn more than $1 billion (only the ninth film in history to do so) and the seventh most successful film of all time, at the time of writing. The film follows Harry, Hermione and Ron as they continue to hunt for Voldemort's Horcruxes as the Dark Lord lays siege to Hogwarts, threatening everyone within.
What's it about?
With Voldemort now in possession of the Elder Wand, time is running out for Harry, Ron and Hermione who are still hunting for the remaining Horcruxes - powerful artefacts that each contain a fragment of Voldemort's soul. Their quest will take them into the depths of Gringotts bank and face-to-face with a dragon before having to return to Hogwarts. But there are still other things to be done within the ancient school's walls.
Snape faces a rebellion when his past crimes are revealed to the students while Harry realises that Voldemort's snake Nagini is also a Horcrux. And as the Dark Lord gathers all his forces on the hills surrounding Hogwarts and prepares for the final assault, Harry makes a terrifying discovery - that he himself is a Horcrux and therefore must be killed also in order to defeat Voldemort. And however you look at it, that's going to be a bit of a problem...
Helena Bonham Carter
Professor Severus Snape
Professor Minerva McGonagall
Steve Kloves *
Release Date (UK)
15th July, 2011
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Academy Award Nominations
Best Makeup, Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction
What's to like?
Detractors may say that this is the very last Potter film so that's something and truth be told, I would have been one of them. But the series as a whole has proved me wrong and won me over - the people who sneer at these movies are ignoring the fact that they are extremely well presented, performed and crafted films that entertain both young and old. Fans who grew up reading the books will delight in this film which offers all the action the series had desperately missed up until now as spells rain down upon Hogwarts as the castle itself prepares to repel the attackers. The spectacle and wonder of Hogwarts that had vanished after Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (1) has well and truly returned.
Although Harry and Voldemort's personal battle dominates the story, it gives the other actors plenty of chances to shine. Smith finally gets to show us her mettle as McGonagall and Matthew Lewis as the once-goofy Neville Longbottom steps up and becomes an essential member of the franchise. But the action is why this movie works, even if it sacrifices the story to cram it all in. It's the wizarding equivalent of those futuristic battle scenes witnessed between man and the machines in The Terminator (2). Miles of endless carnage and fantastic explosions between the gripping fight scenes. This is one film that isn't afraid to kill off certain characters and your favourite might not survive. But it gives this film a deep emotional resonance that's unexpected - you feel for all of these characters, having spent so long watching them and their passing is surprisingly heartfelt.
- The fight between Snape and McGonagall was due to be between Harry and Snape. J.K. Rowling insisted that McGonagall should do it, citing it as a defining moment for Maggie Smith's character.
- Five 29-ton trucks full of polystyrene rubble was used for the various scenes of destruction throughout the movie.
- Rickman was one of the few people other than J.K. Rowling who knew of Snape's true nature. From the first film onwards, he had to insist that the producers of all previous movies in the series defer to him regarding his portrayal of Snape - whether they understood why or not.
What's not to like?
With the story virtually done and dusted, I suppose it was only natural that the final film would concentrate on the near-destruction of Hogwarts. In a way, the impact of seeing it ablaze felt more troubling than Voldemort's plans as though we were former students ourselves. The movie still finds time to resolve the Snape issue but it feels rushed and dispensed with relatively quickly, as though it was an unwelcome distraction from all the chaos and fire erupting around it.
It should also be noted that unless you have a pretty full knowledge of the Potter series so far, either in book or film form, this might confuse viewers with a short attention span. There are always going to be issues translating any book to movie form and Rowling's epic adventure is no exception - I found myself wondering where Nearly-Headless Nick was during the battle and why Peeves hadn't been featured at all.
Should I watch it?
It is undoubtedly the bombastic and noisy finale most fans were expecting but part of me preferred The Deathly Hallows: Part One (3), despite both being effectively the same picture. I simply felt that this was the culmination of frustrated film-makers allowing the characters to engage in frenzied battles instead of studying spell-books and potion recipes. However, I don't want to detract from this film which is an epic and enjoyable end to what has proved to be one of the strongest series of adventures I can recall seeing.
Great For: action fans, Potter lovers, pyromaniacs
Not So Great For: Tolkien fans
What else should I watch?
So that's that. Except it wasn't, of course.
No doubt as a result of fan pressure and Warner Bros not wanting to let a profitable franchise go to waste, we now have Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (4) which looks to be the start of a whole spin-off series of its own. In the meantime, Potter fans will have to content themselves with the earlier movies of which my personal favourite was the third film. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (5) retained enough of the innocence of the earlier pictures but plunged into a dark nightmare with enough twists to keep your attention glued.
At least Potter fans have more films to watch than Tolkien's fans - granted, they do have The Lord Of The Rings series which is as perfect a trio of pictures I can imagine but Jackson also returned to Middle-Earth to produce another trilogy, The Hobbit. The first film - An Unexpected Journey (6) - is a step down in terms of excitement and pace but still retains the sheer beauty of Jackson's cinematography so it's not all bad.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox