Film Review: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' (2011)
Harry's long journey ends here. The last film hardly ended on an uplifting note. The heroes have been through so much already, losing many friends along the way, and have just barely escaped from Malfoy Manor. Voldemort is more powerful than ever. He has a loyal army of Death Eaters at his back, his forces have taken over the Ministry of Magic, and he himself has taken the almighty Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave. Meanwhile, the heroes have found temporary sanctuary within Shell Cottage, and use their time there to plot a daring break-in to Gringotts Wizarding Bank...
That's one of the first things that strikes about this film, especially when you compare it to the previous films. It has no beginning. Only a few minutes in and you already feel like you're well into the middle of it. Granted, all the films are parts of a larger story, but they still have distinct opening scenes and set-ups with Harry preparing for his next year at Hogwarts (or in the case of Deathly Hallows: Part 1, his hunt for the Horcruxes). Deathly Hallows: Part 2 doesn't have that; it just hits the ground and takes off running. It's similar to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in that regard (another film I plan on reviewing). It’s rare for a film to begin and to feel like you're already in the middle of it, but it's a refreshing feeling, I find.
At Shell Cottage, Harry, Ron, and Hermione strike up an ominous deal with Griphook the goblin regarding their planned break-in to Gringotts. And then they head out in pursuit of what they hope will be their next Horcrux. The mission is similar to the Trio's Ministry of Magic break-in from Part 1. In both cases there's almost a spy thriller vibe to it, as the Trio disguise themselves to sneak into a public building and steal a Horcrux. Last time it was Slytherin's Locket; this time it's what turns out to be Hufflepuff's Cup. And just like with the Ministry of Magic break-in, things at Gringotts do not go entirely as planned. Mishaps occur, and the Trio are forced to make a daring escape by the skin of their teeth.
From there, things lead directly into the final battle, in a place all too much like home...
When you marathon the series, it's neat to see how gracefully the characters grow up. It's most obvious with the Hogwarts students, but you can see it with the adults too. It really feels like you've been on this journey with the characters from beginning to end, enduring all their trials and hardships with them.
After being missing for the entirety of the previous film, we see Hogwarts again right at the very beginning of this one. Only it is no longer the warm and welcoming community we knew at the start of the series. As haunting music plays, we open to a shot of the familiar castle, except now it rests in the middle of a cloudy, desolate landscape. It has become a cold and foreboding place, where the children are marched into the castle in rigid lines, and Dementors float ominously in the skies overhead. Meanwhile, Snape stands high up on the castle and watches it all with a deeply troubled expression.
After the Trio arrives at the Hog's Head, Neville leads them through an underground tunnel and into the Room of Requirement where many of their fellow students are hiding out. This leads to a very heartwarming moment where, as Harry arrives inside Hogwarts for the first time in nearly a year, all the students stand up and clap for him.
Another brief but emotional moment occurs soon after, when Snape gets word that Harry has returned to Hogwarts and summons the students out into the Great Hall to interrogate them. Harry comes out of hiding and confronts Snape directly, calling him out on his actions the year before. ("How dare you stand where he stood!")
There's some fantastic dialogue too. One of my favourite lines in the whole series is during the Gringotts break-in, after Griphook betrays the Trio and runs off:
Ron: "At least we've still got Bogrod."
*Bogrod, still blissfully under the Imperius curse, gets roasted alive by the dragon*
Ron: "That's unfortunate."
Shortly after arriving at Hogwarts:
Neville: "Right then, what's the plan, Harry?"
*everyone looks at Harry eagerly*
Harry: "Okay. There's something we need to find. Something hidden here in the castle, and it may help us defeat You-Know-Who."
Neville: "Right, what is it?"
Harry: "We don't know."
Dean: "Where is it?"
Harry: "We don't know that either. I realize that's not much to go on."
Seamus: "That's nothing to go on."
Another great line from Ron. As the Trio are rescuing Draco and Blaise from the Room of Requirement while it burns down around them: "If we die for them, Harry, I'm gonna kill you!"
Possibly my favourite McGonagall moment ever. As they're preparing for the Battle of Hogwarts and she uses the Piertotum Locomotor spell to bring the statues to life. She says to the statues in a serious tone, "Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries. Protect us. Do your duty to our school!" Then she says to Molly Weasley with uncharacteristically giddy excitement, "I've always wanted to use that spell."
The final battle itself is suitably thrilling. As Harry and his allies come together to make their last stand, Voldemort likewise gathers his followers, determined to slay The Boy Who Lived once and for all.
There's a nice call-back to Chamber of Secrets when Harry is looking for the Diadem Horcrux and, quite randomly, one of the Cornish Pixies from Gilderoy Lockhart's class appears out of nowhere. And then soon after, a whole swarm of Pixies appear and start flying about. It sure makes me wonder what they were up to in all the years we didn't see them. And for that matter, how in the world did they get inside the Room of Requirement?
Speaking of which, unlike in the Deathly Hallows novel, it's neat that we get to see the actual Chamber of Secrets again.
There are so many other moments that I could talk about. But, really, I don't think I could fully do them justice. This is my favourite Harry Potter film, and one of my all-time favourite movies period. I couldn't have asked for a better finale to the series. Just go see the movie, if you haven't already. And if you have already seen it, then go see it again. : - )
Well that about wraps it up for my Harry Potter retrospective. I would like to cover the Fantastic Beasts films at some point, but in the meantime I have some other reviews coming. Stay tuned.
© 2019 Ian Rideout