Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom, 2011. Warner Bros., Heyday Films, Moving Picture Company. 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 2011. National Board of Review Awards 2011. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2011. Washington Film Critics Awards 2011.
Seven books, eight movies and a whole heck of a lot of merchandising finally come down to a final adventure featuring the plucky young wizard and his best friends going head to head with a noseless evil who looks like a tapeworm. After mooning about without doing anything interesting for three hours in the first part of the last chapter in the series, Harry, Hermione and Ron finally work their way towards the showdown with the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in the hopes of saving the wizard world from being taken over completely by his dark forces. Harry finally finds out the truth about his family, gets up close to the reality of the shady Professor Snape (the film’s only truly emotional moments, actually) and riles the entire student body of Hogwarts into a great battle with the bad guys for the film’s last third, which plays like an uninspired retread of battle scenes from the Lord Of The Rings movies. Improving somewhat on the last film, this one actually has scenes where things happen, plus it returns the setting to the wizard academy which Part I sorely lacked, but the sense of adventure, wonder and imagination of the earlier chapters of the series are still missing in a big way. It still feels, as the last few have, like it’s merely looking to flesh out scenes from a popular book for the sake of its readers; the stakes are never particularly high, and while the actors only keep improving with each passing film, their characters are no longer as charismatic as they once were. Harry Potter never has any genuine moments of conflict or temptation, so reliably even-tempered all the time that the predictable outcome of his moral choices make for very flat emotional viewing. It’s to Daniel Radcliffe‘s credit that he plays him with such honest integrity and avoids being a simpering goodie-goodie, but there’s no denying that the role has far fewer colours in it than this actor has to offer (no wonder he got his kit off and cavorted with some horses on the London stage; the boy needs to exercise some acting muscles and Warner Bros is not giving him the chance). Then there’s a badly tacked on ending which threatens to find an excuse for more in the future; if that happens, let’s hope the fun comes back.