Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 marks the end of the Potter saga, and what a saga it’s been. Eight movies, seven books, four directors, ten years. The cute children of the first picture are nowhere to be found. They’ve grown up, worn out their chubby cheeks and fluffy hairdos, and have taken on more than any of them — or anyone else for that matter — can handle. But wouldn’t you know it, they’re still alive.
Let’s see. They’ve taken on trolls, fire, giant three-headed dogs, killer chess pieces, bullies, high school drama, giant snakes, evil witches and wizards, dragons, deadly mazes, mermaids, more dragons, puberty, love, and the sadness of loss, among many other unspeakable dangers. Finally, in this chapter, they must face Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and defeat him. Is it really a spoiler if I say they succeed? What joy would the Potter readers and viewers celebrate if they didn’t, right? So let’s just say that Voldemort is defeated and the world of witchcraft and wizardry goes back to normal.
But it is not as simple as that, oh no. The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a gorgeously grim movie, filled with darkness and night, with greys and murky tones. All the good guys are in serious danger. Indeed, even the great fortress that is Hogwarts falls to ruin; its impressive stone guard defence hardly denting the enemy’s numbers. Unlike the first chapter of this two-part finale, there is little to no daylight. Fog and mist fills the frame, and some shots are so dark that barely anything can be seen. Usually this would be a problem, but Harry’s world has grown so weary and calamitous that daylight would seem inappropriate. Many of his quests in this movie require stealth and secrecy, and while he may not be the best of stalkers, the cover of night can do him nothing but favours.
This movie sees the return of many characters, both past and present, who have populated the Potter universe at some point or another. I must say that it is quite awesome to have Maggie Smith repel Alan Rickman with fire balls and a stern face, and later stand next to Julie Walters as they cast protective enchantments over the grounds of Hogwarts. It’s also wonderful to finally see all the adults in proper action. Action that could prove fatal if not handled carefully. All hands are on deck, and the movie gives us a glorious battle sequence that destroys the deck and takes all the hands with it. Trolls barge their way through Hogwarts’ gates. Death Eaters Disapparate over valleys and through narrow windows and engage our many heroes in swashbuckling wand-play. Things explode and walls crumble. Many die. Those that survive live to defend Harry another day.
Naturally, this final movie concentrates on the relationship between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort. There is a startling revelation somewhere in the middle — I will not divulge this — that personalises their relationship to a degree that no one would’ve previously thought. All I can say is that Voldemort must kill Harry if Harry ever wants to kill Voldemort. There is also a revelation regarding Severus Snape (Rickman), and since this is perhaps the most shocking twist ever committed to fantasy film, a twist that took ten years to unravel (possibly much longer), I shall keep it a secret. Snape, alas, is a thoroughly complex and tragic character. So tragic that in spite of all the sinister deeds he’s enacted, our sympathies lie with him. Is it cruel or unjust of me to say that my sympathies were not with Harry?
I shall attempt to defend myself. Harry’s life is in danger, yes. His world is falling apart around him. He might die and never be reunited with his good friends. The entire series is about him. He has to fight off this evil alone and survive it. But is he blind to the destruction? Does he not care for his friends whom he claims to love? I want to illustrate what I mean, but I’m finding it difficult to without giving important details away. I’ll say it like this: He loses my vote when the mission becomes more important than togetherness and teamwork, when his goals upstage the efforts of his friends and colleagues. Twice in two movies, he says, “I’m sorry, but I don’t care about such-and-such.”. How can you expect to garner support if you show no support yourself? He grows so self-centred, so egomaniacal that when his closest buddies are sobbing in anguish, he thinks not to even offer consoling hugs. And it doesn’t help that Radcliffe is still, as he’s always been, overshadowed by the flawless catalogue of veteran British actors that surrounds him.
I didn’t smile when Harry destroyed Horcruxes, or when he zoomed out of an inflamed Room of Requirement just in the nick of time. But I smiled heartily when I saw Prof. Trelawney (Emma Thompson) and Prof. Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) again, and they weren’t even doing anything. Where this Potter series falls a bit short for me is in its lack of a solid, likeable, genuine hero. Even the villains become more impactful. Nevertheless, Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a thrill ride of the darkest sort, and it’s great. It ties up lose ends with confidence, and delivers a perfect blend of wall-to-wall action, last minute rescues and kisses, and sentimental pathos. I have a closing thought, though: Now that Hermione has survived everything, does she regret Obliviating her parents’ memory of her?
Best Moment | The Hogwarts battle sequence. Splendid.
Worst Moment | Nope.
Note: My brother and I have come to the conclusion that Hogwarts serves no purpose. Say what? That’s right. No purpose. What do students go there for? To learn a bunch of cool stuff? And then what? If they don’t end up working for the Ministry of Magic, what else is there to do as an adult witch or wizard? They know nothing of the Muggle world, and quite honestly, whatever they learn at school their parents can easily teach. I shall now wait for the world to implode.