Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Will Harry find the remaining horcruxes and/or slay the revolting Voldemort?

Will he get Hermione, or will Ron confound the lazy stereotyping of ginger-haired people by making off with the goods?

And will Emma Watson get any easier on the eye? Could she?

These were the questions I was left to ask at the end of the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in J K Rowling's celebrated child-wizard saga.

To be quite honest if I were to answer those questions on these pages some people might get quite cross. People don't like spoilers and the film is still in cinemas after all. I should know, I've just been. Oh go on then, I'll answer one question now, maybe another later. No, Emma Watson does not and could not get any easier on the eye. There, feel better now?

If like me you are a bit of a casual, Johnny-Come-Lateley Harry Potter observer you might find yourself a little confused at the start of Part 2. We're in a poky little room with a goblin named Griphook, whom Emma reliably informs me has not just been plucked from nowhere but who actually appears in the first film. Maybe some others, she's not so sure. Anyway, we then move from Griphook to John Hurt looking older than it is possible for him to ever be. There's a confusing conversation about something or other but mercifully it is not long until we are back into more comfortable Potter surroundings.

Specifically that means Harry, Ron and Hermione doing what they are reknowned for, trying to get into places they have no rights to be in and magically morphing into completely different entities. It took me more time than I'm comfortable with to realise that Emma Watson is not Helena Bonham-Carter. Regardless, a veritable gala of special effects ensues, sparking a chain of similarly exciting if a little overblown episodes as our heroes make their way to the real endgame.

Which, of course, is killing the once unspeakable Lord Voldemort. It doesn't matter if you say his name, we are told at one point by the wonderful Maggie Smith, he's going to kill you all anyway. Fine, all that you-know-who stuff was becoming a little tedious. You may remember from Part 1 that the only way to kill Voldemort is to find and destroy the horcruxes, or parts of his soul that he has left lying around in some place or other. 'We don't know what we are looking for or where it is?' admits Harry at one point. Sounds like you're screwed, mate.

Without giving away the many twists and turns and the film's very own Empire Strikes Back moment, Harry really should be screwed. That he may not be is thanks mostly to Nevile Longbottom, a man who sounds like he opened the batting for England some time in the 1930's, and more surprisingly good old Draco Malfoy who to my mind last made a significant contribution to this story when he was comically punched in the face by Hermione about four films ago.

If you can get past the argument you will have with yourself over the whole logic of the set-up, the climactic face off between Harry and Voldemort is the stuff of which cinema was made for. Huge bolts of lightning which don't do very much harm to either party abound, while Hogwarts falls to pieces around their very ears. Assuming Voldemort has ears. He only has around a quarter of a nose, so who knows. Nose. Get it? Whatever.

There's a little nose-to-nose between Ron and Hermione somewhere in the midst of all this. Either Rowling or the screenplay writers obviously felt that it was a bad idea to follow up on the possibility of pairing Hermione with Harry. Ron's sister is a reasonable consolation prize and anyway, that means two ginger-haired people win. What do you think of that, lazy stereotypers? A big up yours to you.

Loose ends tied in a mostly satisfactory way, the ending feels unecessary in a film which is already well over two hours long. It seems to be the trend among film-makers these days to steadfastly refuse to give up on a project until they have squeezed every last possible drop of storyline out of it. I remember cringing at and complaining on these very pages about a similar botch job in True Grit, to mention just one.

Deathly Hallows Part 2, for all my cynicism, wet-wit and general air of sneering-ness, is a fine conclusion to this exhaustively long, till-ringing, child-star making series of films.

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