Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.
United Kingdom/USA, 2010. Warner Bros., Heyday Films. Screenplay by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. Cinematography by Eduardo Serra. Produced by David Barron, David Heyman, J.K. Rowling. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Stuart Craig. Costume Design by Jany Temime. Film Editing by Mark Day. Academy Awards 2010. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2010. Washington Film Critics Awards 2010.
Films that began as a series of imaginative adventures have descended into self-important, jargon-spouting fan conventions that defy all manner of patience. This adaptation of half of J.K. Rowling’s final literary chapter in one of the most popular book franchises in publishing history is much ado about nothing, an opportunity to watch the three Hogwarts students who comprise the central cast sit around and wallow in their teen angst while anticipating the constantly alluded-to but increasingly uninteresting showdown with the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). This film opens with the dark lord holding a large dinner party for all his evil and ghoulish friends; I think it’s safe to say that we are now less likely to find him scary considering his leisure time resembles the masquerade ball from The Addams Family. With the help of his friends, wizard hero Harry Potter avoids detection and stays safe while everyone runs around him shouting about dark times and uncertainty ahead. Then they start dithering about horcruxes, a magical sword and yet another special wand and you start to wonder, is this a plot about talismans in which the humans are merely pawns? Even Gilbert & Sullivan would be rolling their eyes by now. Well-written epic sagas from Spencer to Tolkien excel at placing obstacles in the way of a final quest, but here screenwriter Steve Kloves merely creates excuses to keep the kids busy in order to make sure that the end doesn’t come too soon. A sequence when the children take on magical disguises and infiltrate Magic headquarters (or whatever it’s called) is probably the first time the movie raises any interest, but that’s not until over an hour into the picture, and is followed by very little else of much worth. It looks great, and the kids just get better with each passing film, but the sense of adventure is gone and has been replaced by a cultish obsessiveness that is pompous and boring.