Film review: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2, from Built For Speed

So, the much loved Harry Potter saga comes to an end.  After 10 years and eight films, the most successful movie franchise in history reaches its dramatic conclusion.  Will it tie up the loose ends of its convoluted mythology or will it do a Lost and refuse to answer all those big questions that kept us hanging on for years?

There were concerns about the way the franchise would end after Deathly Hallows part 1 nosedived into a swamp of tedium.  Fortunately part 2 is huge improvement.  Leaner and faster moving, the emphasis in part 2 is on visceral action and eye-boggling effects that are actually exciting.  While Hallows part 1 seemed never to end, part 2 seems to fly past.

Part 2 does take a little while to click into gear though, the first half hour sees the film jumping confusingly from one set piece to another while Harry, Ron and Hermione crap on about horcruxes much as they did in part 1.  There’s also a rapid procession of characters who don’t do alot and an attempt to resolve subplots from earlier films that most people would have forgotten about. Following a major death, though, the film hits its stride and achieves greater clarity and emotional punch than previous Potter movies.

The long awaited showdown between Harry and Voldemort is thrillingly realized as Voldemort and his cockney lout croneys lay siege to Hogwarts. The only clunky part of the film is the coda, which attempts to reconnect with the first movie but comes across as cheesy, tacked on and unintentionally funny.

Beginning as a whimsical fantasy take on English public schools the Potter films have become progressively darker, more serious and more violent. This final instalment does a decent job of balancing these adult elements with the series’ more quirky and endearing aspects like budding romances and the clutzy ranga comedy of Ron Weazley.

The three young stars Emma Watson, Daniel Radclifffe and Rupert Grint have improved their acting chops over the years and deliver strong performances here but this is hardly a thespian triumph.  The supporting cast features a roll-call of British acting royalty but with the exception of Dame Maggie Smith and the droll Alan Rickman, they’re strangely underused.

Qualms aside it is with some degree of sadness then that we bid farewell to the noseless baldy Voldemort, to Helena Bonham Carter’s crazy goth cat lady, to feisty Emma Watson, to CJ’s role model Creature and to the entire cast of quirky, likeable and engaging characters who helped the movies ride out some very lumpy and convoluted story lines and ensured that this generation- defining series had a fitting finale.

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