After ten years and eight movies, the Harry Potter franchise has finally reached its end, and its resulted in this, the final part of a two-part finale, The Deathly Hallows: Part Two. I remember very clearly going to watch the very first movie at a newly renovated theatre in Bournemouth in the week of its release, a giddy little 8 year-old excited to see the adaptation of one of my favourite books on the big screen. And it didn’t disappoint. Looking back on it, the first movie (the first two really) were overlong and featured quite a few cringe-worthy moments, but you don’t really care about that as an 8 year-old viewer. The years went by, and so did the movies, and I’m not going to lie, my interest did wane around the 2007 mark, with Order of the Phoenix. I expressed my disappoint with that installment and the one that followed, Half Blood Prince, in my review of Part One. The same can be said with the books, all exposition with nothing happening till the last hour/chapter. Thankfully, my interest has been revitalised by the end of the series, it was such a big part of my childhood that it’s kinda hard to ignore the end of it. And Part One was very good, so my excitement for this installment was well and truly high. Alderney Cinema managed to get it a bit quicker than usual, so let me get on with that will be my final (and to be honest second) review for a Harry Potter movie.

The stakes are high this time around, as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione’s (Emma Watson) quest to destroy all the Horcruxes leads them back to Hogwarts to complete the task that Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) set them before his untimely demise. It will be a race against time to destroy all the remaining horcruxes, as the more vulnerable Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes) grows, the more dangerous and determined he becomes. Voldermort leads his army of Death Eaters on a final assault on Hogwarts, where Harry must band together with his friends and teachers to hold the school against the dark forces. The stage is then set for an action-packed magical spectacle, with Harry finally discovering his destiny and uncovering the truth behind the secrecy that surrounds those closest to him, both friend and foe. Spoilers may follow. But if you’re reading this and haven’t seen it, then I’m very surprised.

In terms of the spectacle, this doesn’t sell out. It is, by far, the most action-packed installment of the franchise and all the better for it. The film is a giant crescendo, building up as it moves along, with an excellent set-piece at Grignotts Bank involving a literal rollercoaster ride and a stunning dragon escape. It’s not long either until the action kicks off at Hogwarts, with a fiar few characters getting a chance to show what they’re made of (personal favourite being Maggie Smith’s Professor McGonagall). However, it is very much the sort of movie that builds in momentum and if this momentum is disrupted, then it does affect the experience. Unfortunately this was the case when I watched it. In case you’re not aware, the Alderney Cinema has an intermission half way through. Sometimes it can be quite welcome with a movie, but in this case it didn’t do the film any favours. The film had been gathering a good head of steam and was really starting to roll and get the adrenaline pumping. Certain characters kissed and then it cut to the break. After that, the film was hard to get back into, partly because the movie itself entered a slow area. But there is plenty to appreciate, even with this disruption.

Visually, this is the most stunning of the series, with some wonderfully surreal and striking images. David Yates really has hit his stride as a director with this one, relishing in the chance to go full-out on the action scenes. He also realises what the fans want to see done well, and this is particularly the case with revealing the truth behind the nature of Alan Rickman’s Snape. These scenes were my favourite, in front of all the wizarding action, as it was the most satisfying as a fan to see this revalation presented up on the screen. It was easily the most emotional part of the movie and its carried by the amazingly layered performance of the legend that is Alan Rickman. The hardest part of this movie was going to be satisfying the needs of the fans to deliver a satisfying conclusion, and in most respects Yates and screenwriter Steven Kloves have achieved this. Unfortunately some characters get lost in the midst of the action and some of the deaths don’t deliver the emotional blow that they should, and, lets face it, the epilogue turns out to be more laughable then highly emotional. But they do hit the nail on the head more often than not, be it having the most assured musical score since John Williams left the series (thank God they brought the Leaving Hogwarts theme back for the end), or making sure the more surreal and questionable sequences (Kings Cross Purgatory) are handle rather deftly.

Following their impressive performances from Part One, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson once again really shine in their respective roles. It took them a while to hit their stride, but they’ve really matured together, and so have we as the audience, so it’s up to them to heighten the emotion where it’s needed. And they truly deliver. It is as much their movie as it is a generations movie, and they make sure they go out on a high. Radcliffe, especially, is the best he’s ever been, turning in a fragile, yet truly determined and dignified performance. The films have always focused on the relationship between these three friends, and it’s only fitting that it ends focused on them. Fiennes, as well, gives a much more layered portrayal of Voldermort, a formidable and menacing presence, yet one who knows that his time is running out if he doesn’t take action fast. A lot of the minor characters, as I mentioned before, do get lost in the mix, but a few are allowed moments to shine which puts a great smile on your face.

By the end of this last installment, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with nostalgia, nor did I have the horrible realisation that I was growing up, like Toy Story 3. I think that is partly to do with the fact that, as I’ve grown up, so have these movies. They’ve gotten considerably darker as they’ve progressed, this fittingly being the darkest, but they have also matured both in performance and style of filmmaking. Yet a feeling I did have was satisfaction. It is most certainly a high point on which the franchise can go out on, and while the chaos of everything going on can get a bit overwhelming, this is a Potter movie which knows what it is doing from beginning to end, with a clear sense of drive and purpose, something that a lot of the movies lacked. So, it does give me pleasure to say that, after ten long years, it feels good to say farewell to Potter and company, it feels like the right time in which to do so. So, thanks Harry, and congrats on the box office.

4/5– A frantic and sometimes overwhelming experience, but it’s all it should be; action-packed, heartfelt, magical, visually stunning and wholly satisfying. What a way to go.

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