13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
As the marketing says, The Magic will last..., 22 Sep 2011
Regardless of your views on Harry Potter as a whole or whether this film really does this literary phenomenon justice (on balance it does), there can be no doubt that this is a great climax to one of the great cinematic challenges. There will always be a debate about the place of J.K. Rowling's novels and their film adaptations in the wider pantheon of literary and film history. But if one wants a true measure of how good this series has been, they should simply ask: what would the world be like if Harry hadn't been helped out of his cupboard?
I know that the answer is: poorer! The first novels that I read were the first two Harry Potter books. And to a child at the age of 6, as I was then, what wasn't there to like about a downtrodden young boy who discovers that he is a wizard and is whisked away to a magic school by a giant man? That is the magic of this series. Long after the special effects have been superseded and there has been a disastrous (American) attempt at remaking the films, it will be the stories that remain with us. We all want to be Harry, Ron or Hermione because we can relate to them. We believe that we can have Harry's courage, Ron's heart or Hermione's fierce loyalty and skill because we have experienced their emotions alongside our own. That is the reason for the success of these novels and films: We could just as easily imagine ourselves as the subject.
But enough of the nostalgic yearning for my childhood, this film was the perfect send off for this particular series. As someone who prefers the books over the films anyway, there are obviously things which should have had more emphasis! My mind instantly drifts to the sidelining of Ron and Hermione. I thought that "Half- Blood Prince" and "Deathly Hallows: Part 1" had built up their burgeoning feelings for each other really well. But after all that good work, their much anticipated kiss just seemed to arrive out of nowhere in this film, rather than springing from another one of those excellent little sub- plots which make the novels so good. But considering the amount of stuff that needed to be fitted in, it was good effort. Also, the King's Cross scene was a let down, as Dumbledore explains pretty much nothing and leaves me wondering why Harry isn't dead. Although, having read the books endlessly, this was self explanatory. Also the Epilogue feels just as clumsy in this film as it does in Rowling's novel. It spoils the magic of the ending. As others have also picked up, the producers seemed to have decided that, as it's the last film, let's blow up as much of Hogwarts as we can.
However, lets look at the positives. I think that the leads did well in this film; and whatever people say about their acting at various stages, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson will always be Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. But the real star turn, as in the novel, comes from Severus Snape. Alan Rickman really steals the show, as he has done throughout the series. We have loved to hate this man for the last decade on screen, but the superb execution of "The Prince's Tale" leaves us feeling as devastated as Snape himself is when he learns that Lily Potter is dead. I think we all shed a tear for the incredible sacrifices that he made, as much as Rickman's superlative performance. Maggie Smith is as imperious as ever as Minerva McGonagall, whilst Helena Bonham Carter is sublime as the wildly cunning Bellatrix Lestrange. Ralph Fiennes simply exudes menace whenever he is on screen as our irredeemable villain, Lord Voldemort. He takes on a rather muted role here, strangely, although I do think that the way in which the menace of Voldemort is portrayed in the novels is almost impossible to bring to the big screen. The scene in the Forbidden Forest with the Resurrection Stone is also a brilliant emotional journey.
The special effects are excellent as one might expect, especially when the magical protection is created around Hogwarts, to then be destroyed by Voldemort in fury. Alexandre Desplat's score is also superb and really reflects the subtle moods and nuances of the story. If one good thing came out of the Epilogue, it allowed Desplat to use the brilliant "Leaving Hogwarts" theme for the last time! As a film, I think that David Yates has done a great job. This was probably the biggest challenge in film. Almost everyone had an opinion on how it should be done, along with the added pressure from Warner Brother's to make this film palatable for all ages, in order to maximise potential income from their most lucrative franchise. Left to their own devices, this film could easily have been a 15. For those who think that a lot of the humour is missing, then they are probably right. However, it is harder to establish this in a film. The Potter series doesn't really do black humour, so many of the jokes or asides in the novel just wouldnt fit the tone. I think the result would have been worse if the producers had attempted to shoe- horn the humour in.
All in all, it has been a magical journey since I first picked up "The Philosopher's Stone as a 6 year old. As the credits rolled on this film, I suddenly realised that there was no more Harry, no more vestige of my childhood, to come. But then I thought that it doesn't really matter that there will be no more "new" adventures. The magic of the series, its values of courage and loyalty and friendship, will live on. And naturally, we will always want to go to Hogwarts.