Tuesday, 26 July 2011


And so it is finished. And I am glad.

Don't get me wrong; I love Harry Potter and I really enjoyed the earlier books - getting to know the characters and the magical world of Hogwarts. This was adapted well in the first films as we were introduced to all the elements of great storytelling. The later books continued this thread, and then it all seems to have gone horribly wrong.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One) was bearable, but I should have realised things were all going to be less like a dramatic film and more like a version of a video game when the latest instalment was advertised as HP7. Despite being intensely loyal to the franchise (I have bought all the books, been to the cinema to see all the films and own a couple of them on DVD), I have to concede that I am not the target audience.

I know this because reports of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part Two) have been overwhelmingly positive, whereas I found it all rather dull. It's the battle sequence. I hated it in the Narnia stories/ Star Wars/ The Lord of the Rings. It's good versus evil and we don't teach children about nihilism, so there is no surprise in the outcome.

This I could cope with if it didn't just all look like some CGI X-Box game. What happened to the characters? Who cares? Chuck in some shooting sparks and explosions and that will compensate for the weakest narrative arc to grace a screen in a long time. Maggie Smith still gets to do a spot of acting as Professor McGonagall, and there's a decent cameo from Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw who helps Harry find her mother's diadem, which seems all too easy.

In fact Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) make simple work of finding the remaining horcruxes in which Voldemort has hidden parts of his soul. Collect each token; progress to the next level. Basically, everyone else just runs around shouting at each other, leaping from action sequence to action sequence with no thought for orchestrated tempo or development - if you pause too long, the audience might realise that it's got no depth or substance to it: this is genuine cinema for the ADD generation.

The superlative characterisation in this final film belongs to Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom. As he stands alone in a dodgy cardy from Bury market facing the axis of evil protected only by a wand and a magic shield he rants to the ranging forces, 'You and whose army?' It's the best line of the film - trust me. His delivery is perfect as he proves his mettel by weilding the sword of Gryffindor (do you see what I did there?) to defend Harry from Nagini, Voldemort's snake and the last remaining piece of his soul. At this, Voldemort dissolves into whirling puzzle pieces, like Chris Martin in that Viva La Vida video. And no, I'm not giving anything away because it was obvious from the beginning.

Speaking of spoilers - the ending (which you will already know if you've read the books, and if you haven't then you're not a true fan so I'm not going to apologise) is appalling. Not that they all turn up as adults with their children to send them away to a boarding school where they were all three nearly killed, but by their horrifically conservative dress sense. I would have liked to see the offspring of Neville and Luna - I'll bet they at least got to wear something slightly less dull.

My problem is not that the film missed out loads from the book (most films do that - they have to cram 607 pages into a couple of hours, although in this case, they did get two films to do it in) but that it missed the essence of the film. Sure, I will miss the terrific trio, but they were actually already missing from this film.

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