It all ends in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The boy wizard has grown up to grab hold of his wand, or any number of oddly shaped wands, and wreak havoc upon Lord Voldemort. For some... it's a moment for melancholy and sweet relief - the long wait is finally over, the books have been dog-eared and the Harry Potter shrine has been swept clean with a genuine Nimbus 2000 in preparation for the homecoming. For others, it's a joyous occasion... as an irritating little prick with glasses gets grounded for life.
Whether the Harry Potter series has enchanted or revolted you... you cannot deny the passion, quality and consistency with which the film-makers have carried the adaptations of the beloved J.K. Rowling novels about the little orphaned wizard who could. The trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have become household names - racked up fortunes to challenge some of Britain and Hollywood's wealthiest... including the Queen, or was that members of Queen?
While many were slightly disillusioned by the decision to split Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two parts... and then film them in 3D, millions of devoted potheads stayed faithful to the kid over the years. Harry taught children how to read again, fly a broomstick, talk to snakes and run into walls without hurting yourself. It's the sort of latchkey kid education no parent can provide... unless you're David Copperfield or a master of the dark arts.
In this the last chapter of the Harry Potter saga... Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) continue their quest to destroy the last three remaining magical Horcruxes in an attempt to make the Dark Lord Voldemort (Fiennes) vulnerable to their attack in a final battle to decide the fate of Hogwart's and life as they know it.
It's an epic finale to rival Lord of the Rings: Return of the King that makes the other Harry Potter movies seem like they were all leading up to this point... they were. The final adventure doesn't waste any time in getting you back into Harry's world. There's an immediate assumption that you've seen the entire series up to this point with no mercy for people who thought they'd just go and see the final one for a laugh.
What ensues is a monstrous sequel spawned from another sequel to wrap up the saga and end on a high note. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was disappointing - the film was stripped of its 3D release, there was no Hogwart's, the trio wandered aimlessly in the wilderness only to end on a groaning 'To Be Continued' ellipsis. Part 2 more than makes up for Part 1's meandering with more focus, sharper visual effects, a return to Hogwart's and an all-encompassing story to tie up the series with one massive battle between good and evil with Harry Potter in the middle of it all.
Apart from the now famous Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, the cast has been impressive throughout the Harry Potter franchise with special mention of brilliant supporting actors: Alan Rickman as Snape, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore and Ralph Fiennes as the dreaded Voldemort. Part 2 also sees the return of John Hurt, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Gary Oldman, all accomplished in their own right.
The visual effects are quite simply out-of-this-world. For a film layered with special effects wizardry and make up artistry, it's actually a good thing to say you didn't really notice. Director, David Yates has guided the last four Harry Potter adventures and has had time to hone his film-making finesse from the director's chair at the helm of possibly one of the longest running and most popular film franchises ever. The marriage of green screen and set locations is phenomenal, carried forth by the 3D technology without question.
The writing from Steve Kloves, an unsung hero whose involvement from the get-go with Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone sets the framework for the full-scale imagination of the special effects team to add flesh and skin to this beast. They give enough credence to the lead trio, their counterparts and a huge ensemble without losing the spirit with which J.K. Rowling carried the characters. It's a massive undertaking and apart from a bumpy ride in Part 1 has managed to swivel this epic finale quite effortlessly.
It's not only a visual and imaginative extravaganza, but an intellectual challenge... keeping track of each character, following the action, getting the intermittent nods of comedy, understanding the philosophy and sifting through all the darkness to find hope and levity. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a slick production that shines with class and quality, an improvement on the series as a whole.
However, it's not without its flaws. The last adventure has plenty of highs with a few sluggish moments to give us a break from the action-intensive fantasy and cataclysmic battles. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 keeps the pacing up and its audience entertained, although there are some unintentional laughs that sporadically break the suspense of disbelief.
The quest and cast are so bloated that we don't really have time to really connect with the lead trio. The grand finale has become so obsessed with getting the job done, that they race one step ahead of the emotional current of the film. We feel like we know Harry, but we don't. Radcliffe's aloofness stunts the audience's identification with the character making him appear cut off... distant. Even for those that haven't read the books, there's spirit and determination, but no real warmth for the somwhat vacant characters.
We're so distracted by the mesmerising execution of the story that we lose touch with the individuals in the story, unsure of whether we've actually engaged with Ron and Hermione or with any character for that matter. It's a massive undertaking to give every character the time of day (or dark) and there are some strange "cameos" from some of Britain's most respected actors. However, once you brush the artistry away... the core seems a little empty.
It's a fitting conclusion to a much-anticipated sequel and the entire film production can be proud from the ground up. The 3D is crisp, the visual effects are outstanding, the performances are adept, the script is strong, the cast is watertight and the direction holds it all up in the air simultaneously. It's an epic fantasy film to stand up there alongside Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings... yet somehow it just doesn't power home with an emotional resonance at its core, leaving it enjoyable yet somewhat distant.
The bottom line: Mesmerising.