Seven Books, Eight Movies, Ten years! It’s arguably the biggest entertainment phenomenons of the last decade, and it’s definitely the most lucrative, but does the final film do it justice? The finale is at it’s sublime best when it’s most faithful to the source material, but struggles when it departs. It’s a fitting end, one that will not disappoint, but truth be told, you’re better off with the book.
Starting precisely where previous film finished, little time is wasted establishing plot points instead jumping straight to the action that was painfully missing from part one. Harry’s made an educated guess as to what are Voldermort’s final Horcruxes and he makes a play to find and destroy them. It takes the trio on a ride into Gringot’s Bank, and back to Hogwart’s for the final showdown between Harry and Voldermort.
Director David Yates and writer Steve Kloves have gutted a lot of story, detail, and many character moments, to get to the final showdown allowing it to dominate most of the film. It might not please many fans of the novel but some latitude should be given to a movie based on such a complex book. However, perhaps it’s telling that the film doesn’t stir much emotion or sense of awe until it gets back to it’s roots.
It’s when the film gets back to the core of what makes the central players tick that the film finally strikes a chord. When the final revelations are revealed and the horror of the inevitable conclusion dawns, the film moves from popcorn fun to something genuinely moving. In these moments it is most faithful to J.K. Rowlings novels and you will be very thankful that it is.
I’ve felt the films have steadily declined since the third installment Prisoner of Azkhaban, becoming much more dull and drab and devoid of fun. I’m disappointed Yates still couldn’t do justice to the admittedly complex story and great characters, but he gets close, at least this reviewer is happy the most important moments were preserved.
Yates is a strange choice for these films, and frankly he’s not a particularly exciting Director. Stilted in his story telling and devoid of imagination, his scene construction is poor and he struggles to convey key plot points in a way that matches their meaning. He’s relied too heavily on your knowledge of the books, and at times gutted much of what I found to be the most fascinating parts of the story. Perhaps better hands may have mastered the ensemble cast and rich story, but most audiences really won’t care for these criticisms.
In the end it’s about Harry and Voldermort, Daniel Radcliffe and Ralph Fiennes. The two of them get the majority of the screen time and they get the most material to work with. Radcliffe continues to improve and manages a great sense of depth to the trials Harry is put through, while Fiennes is as creepy and viscous as you’d hope for such a villain. It’s a brutal encounter between the two as would be any encounter between such a vicious adult and a teenager. Alan Rickman is also as classy as ever, and Maggie Smith finally steals a few scenes, but unfortunately the rest of the cast take a backseat, which is a bit of a shame.
In the end however, if you love Harry Potter you’re going to love this final film. It doesn’t ruin the critical moments of the story even if it struggles to bring the rest to screen. It’s always sad to see such original and exciting stories come to an end, but hopefully something else can come and fill the void. I had a feeling this movie could break the magical $1billion dollar mark for box office takings, but now I am more skeptical. I think a lot of people will look back on these stories with fondness, but ultimately the films won’t live on as great classics.