Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 picks up moments after that, with a quick reminder that You Know Who got hold of That Wand, and a shot of a very small gravestone, then we’re back with Harry, Hermione and Ron, in a house, on a beach. Even when compared to other ‘part twos’ like Kill Bill Part 2 and the second Matrix sequel this is a bold move, as it essentially renders the film unwatchable as a movie in its own right – although it would be utterly baffling if anyone did choose this as their one and only Potter experience, and frankly anyone who does so is either an idiot or some sort of masochist.
For the rest of us, the started-where-it-left-off opening is something of a mixed blessing, as from the opening conversation, the film recalls events from the previous picture as if we have just seen them. This meant that, in spite of my being reasonably familiar with the franchise, and having seen Deathly Hallows Part One on several occasions, I still found myself struggling to keep track of who was where, what they wanted, and at times what was going on.
Worse than this though, the cold-start creates a massive pacing issue, as we jump very quickly into the action without any build up: Within minutes of the house on the beach, our three heroes have to break into Gringotts bank, in what amounts to a magical version of Ocean’s Eleven (or rather, Potter’s Three and a half). This sequence should be full of tension and excitement, but because the film’s director, David Yates is relying upon the emotions we are feeling from a different movie to carry this scene, it feels almost mechanical. Indeed this is the film’s biggest flaw – because all of the setup is contained in a separate movie, it becomes very hard to invest emotionally in what is happening on screen.
The ultimate result of this is that the final stand-off between Harry’s Hogwarts Horde, and Voldemort’s forces of evil falls a little flat. The stakes are simply too low, and no amount of mad dashes through ornate corridors, energy blasts from wands, or even character deaths, no matter how well handled, can up them to a level where we feel truly engaged. That’s not to say the film isn’t without engaging moments, some sequences work very well, and peppered throughout are nice exchanges between extraordinarily well developed characters, but as a film it fails to maintain that throughout.
But of course it isn’t a film. It’s HALF a film. Consequently every issue identified in this review is a factor of how recently you watched Part One. If, like me it’s been several months, this it’s going to feel somewhat emotionless. If you only watched it recently then any, and possibly all of these criticisms should be only minor niggles for you at the very worst. That said, rather than risk feeling let down, find a cinema showing them both as a double bill, and enjoy one whole evening of Pottermania. Let’s face it; it’s your last chance.
If seen on it’s own [Rating:3/5]
But I strongly suspect after watching it as part of a double bill [Rating:4/5]