Directed by David Yates
Written by Steve Kloves
To this point the world of Harry Potter is well known to everyone around the world, even to those who have never read the books or seen the movies, even those that are tired of hearing about the series. To many it started with the great books by J.K. Rowling, and I was one of them. However, I did not start reading the books until the third one came out, previously siding on the fence of being sick of how popular it was. But when I picked those books for the first time I was hooked for over a decade. And then the movies began to come out and I was equally transfixed by the marvelous visual telling of this instant classic tale. Sadly, the series has to come to a close some time, and for the literature side it was a few years ago, though it remains to be seen if Rowling will continue the series in any way. For the films, that day came on July 15, but with such a remarkable series, it will live on forever.
This eighth and final film in the series is actually a continuation of the previous film, so we pick up our three young heroes, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), on the trail of finding the remaining horcruxes of Voldemort (Ralph Finnes). These horcruxes must be found and destroyed before the evil wizard can be brought down in the epic finale. The team encounters countless close calls on their way to the “Battle of Hogwarts” which concludes the series with the entire cast of characters coming together for one last time on screen.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the film series has been its casting, which starts with the three main actors. They have grown so much over the series and it is great to have seen them mature right in front of our eyes. None of them perhaps truly shine in this installment, but they are so comfortable in their roles as Harry, Ron and Hermione at this point that you hardly notice that they are acting. At this point they truly are these characters. But past that is the astounding supporting cast which is cock full of English acting legends, and each actor, and in fact each character, is given their moment in this concluding chapter, which I found to be a very nice touch. Alan Rickman (Snape) and Ralph Finnes (Voldemort) are the standouts in this particular film, but enough cannot be said for what the entire veteran cast brought to the entire series.
And Rickman is really important in this installment because Snape is such an important part of the story, which is adapted quite well once again by Steve Kloves. Much like the first part of The Deathly Hallows, the film appears to be pretty faithful to the book. Whatever changes or adjustments have, to this point, become almost background noise, for the filmmaking team under the direction of David Yates has become so great at creating the world of Harry Potter and making great films that whichever choices they seem to make, they always seem to be great choices, even when it differs from the source material.
The technical aspects, as always, are also astounding. The special effects, which have been somewhat of a calling card for the series, are top notch once again, taking full advantage of the many magical settings of the film as well as the epic battles and action scenes that are prevalent throughout the final chapter. The cinematography, which has become a common thread in the Yates directed films, is strong once again as director of photography Eduardo Serra captures the world in all its beauty, complete with interesting angles and framing choices. Alexandre Desplat, who has been one of Hollywood’s hot composers of late, returns again for the score of this film and continues his hot streak, composing a blazing score for the film full of action, with the ability to be emotionally touching at the right points as well. And as the previous composers before him, his work is more subtle and complimentary than the great work of John Williams earlier in the series.
The film moves at a breakneck pace and really has little expository scenes, but this late in the series it almost feels like there shouldn’t be. Because this is the latter half of the book, the entire film is pretty much 3rd act material, which means it is edge of your seat action from start to finish with little time to breath, but I cannot think of a better way to conclude the series. There is no way this is a stand alone film. Anyone that sees this film without seeing any of the others would be lost and would probably hate the film, but that simple fact almost makes this film that much better.
The previous films in the series have done such a great job of setting up and developing all these characters that this film not only gets away with being all 3rd act with little exposition, but it excels at it. For that reason I cannot imagine a better way to have ended the series. Everyone gets their due and their moment to shine. I would not call this the best of the series, though now that the series has concluded I am sure to resort to my style of ranking the books: why rank them, the entire series is great and magical. Harry Potter is a gift which was first given by J.K. Rowling, and since been regifted by Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, and finally the wonderful David Yates. It will be ever present in the history of cinema as perhaps the most successful franchise both financially and artistically, but more importantly it will be in my personal collection for the rest of my life to enjoy and share with as many people as possible.