Film Information: Released 15th July 2011, Certificate 12A
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Jason Isaacs, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Robbie Coltrane, Jim Broadbent, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) know that they must continue hunting horcruxes that they have set out to destroy in order to kill Lord Voldemort (Fiennes) once and for all. Their search, previously secret, does not remain so as Voldemort begins to preempt their motives, and they know that time is running out. Together, and with help from some old friends, they must complete the task and then overcome Voldemort himself while the rest of the wizarding world is under Voldemort’s control. The task is incredibly daunting, and Harry knows he risks losing his friends as an inevitable conflict draws nearer. Can he finally overcome the being that has haunted him his whole life, or will it all finally prove to be too much as those he loves fall around him?
Alas, the end of an era is upon us. Harry Potter has been an integral part of a lot of people’s lives, and this film marks the end of the story. The films, as separate entities to the books, have always been enjoyed and while there are book purists who bemoan the differences between film and book, most can accept the changes and consider the films on a basis of their own. They have exhibited the cream of British acting, from Maggie Smith through to the likes of Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter, and so there has always been immense acting quality through the series. This particular outing has the job of rounding it all off, and I must say it does so in spectacular style. The film moves from tense beginnings in to rip-roaring action and intrigue at considerable speed, and it ensures that even the thought of boredom is kept at bay at all times.
Director David Yates (The Bill, Harry Potter 5,6,7) really picked up the films in quality after what can be said to be two lacklustre offerings in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The first instalment of this two-parter was darker, more harrowing, and a lot better thought out than the two mentioned above, and this one, I’m glad to say, continues in the same vein. Yates’ desire to create an almighty spectacle certainly comes true, he must have cleaned out the pyrotechnic department to bring out the amazing visuals that are present throughout the film. Of course, he doesn’t keep to the source material on all occasions, but I can understand that Yates wants to build it in his image, and the changes he did make usually worked well, with only a few exceptions. On the whole, they contributed to the sense of excitement and tension he was seeking to build, and I think he succeeded. Now, with the series behind him, I hope he can continue in the same form with whatever he goes on to do.
Daniel Radcliffe (Equus, December Boys) looks just like I’d imagine most people thought Harry Potter would. As a result, I was willing to forgive him for performances devoid of emotion and any conviction in previous outings, simply because I was so stunned that he had practically all the features needed to be Harry. His acting is, regrettably, awful. Happily, he improves pretty drastically here, we can see how Harry’s emotions change and how events have an effect on him, and that is a testament to Radcliffe. I’m pleased with the improvement, and I hope he can continue to mature, though whether he’ll ever throw off the Harry Potter tag is another question.
Emma Watson (Ballet Shoes, The Tales of Desperaux) is similar to Radcliffe in the sense that in the earlier films she is practically perfect for Hermione’s role. As she gets older though, you realise that she only has five recycled facial expressions throughout the first six films, and so acting quality is really not at a high level. To emphasise this, I’m pretty positive a gorilla could probably pull off a better concerned face. These past two films, however, have seen her improve her acting quality, just like Radcliffe, and I have as a result enjoyed them a lot more, as it became much easier to relate to the character. This, coupled with the fact that she is now an incredibly beautiful woman should keep people happy. Rupert Grint (Wild Target, Cherrybomb) on the other hand, is by far the best of the three young actors on show. He portrays Ron just as he is described in the books, caring and funny, but all the while slightly insecure. Grint is, in my opinion, the one most likely to succeed in future roles, and I look forward to seeing him in other productions.
The pick of the other performances was Alan Rickman’s as Snape. Rickman is as cold and calculating as usual, and his penchant for emphasis on words is as present as ever, but he manages to add a new emotional level to the character that we haven’t seen before. His scenes were those that hit me hardest in terms of emotion, and the scenes involving his character were done impeccably well. Rickman remains one of the best British actors of his generation, and long may he continue.
Steve Kloves, the screenwriter, has to be given some credit for the effectiveness of the above scenes also. He has been the one in charge of adapting the books into film format throughout the series, and on the whole, this film has been another success. There were some brilliantly written scenes, including the ones involving Snape, that are guaranteed to please even purist fans. There were, however, also some weaker ones. Mr Kloves doesn’t really seem to know that to make an inspirational speech, you don’t just throw a bunch of emotional cliches together and pretend it makes sense. There are a few others, but not all of them are his fault. Sometimes, in my opinion, the source material also has a habit of sidestepping issues using weaker storytelling. There are, however, a great number of fantastically adapted sections, so I think we can forgive him. The cinematography, done by Eduardo Serra, doesn’t half aid Kloves’ screenplay though. The visuals are stunning, and all the pyrotechnics, and as I’ve said there are plenty of them, really do add to the epic finale atmosphere director Yates set out to create. A success for Serra and the film as a whole again.
Overall, the film certainly does the iconic Harry Potter franchise justice. Supremely acted by the more experienced members of the cast, and brilliantly adapted on the whole, the fact that the main three actors seem to finally come in to their own just serves as a fantastic way to finish up a series that has made so many people happy. The discrepancies, and there are a few, are nowhere near serious enough to act as a detriment to the film as a whole, and so I’m glad to say that we get treated to a roller-coaster of emotions that is bound to give you a sense of closure by the end, even if there is the need for a few tissues. With that, we bid the series a tearful goodbye. Adieu, Harry.