Reviews from the L.A. trades and London papers come tumbling in tonight, and critics are overwhelming happy with the grand finale of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2.
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter:
It ends well. After eight films in 10 years and a cumulative global box-office take of more than $6.3 billion, the most successful franchise in the history of movies comes to an obligatory — and quite satisfying — conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Fully justifying the decision, once thought purely mercenary, of splitting J.K. Rowling’s final book into two parts, this is an exciting and, to put it mildly, massively eventful finale that will grip and greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to now…
Initially working in what seemed too straightforward and briskly efficient a manner, Yates has finally come into his own in this last installment, orchestrating a massive chessboard of events with impressive finesse and a stronger sense of dramatic composition than he has previously displayed.
But perhaps the key player all along has been screenwriter Steve Kloves, who made what must have been a vexing decision to put a promising directorial career on hold for more than a decade to write all but one of the Potter episodes (though confessing exhaustion and the need of a break, he later expressed regret over not adapting The Order of the Phoenix). Tricky in that so many characters, including quite a few from the past, needed to be shuffled into the dramatic deck without sacrificing forward momentum, this final chapter suggests an even greater-than-usual attention to narrative balance and refinement. Simply put, it’s clear the filmmakers felt the responsibility to do this job right, and that they have.
Philip Womack, The Telegraph:
Perhaps the greatest triumph of this final film is its ability to overcome the deficiencies of J K Rowling’s writing. In the last Harry Potter volume, she failed singularly to muster the epic feel needed; as a result, on the page, the concluding battle at Hogwarts was a damp squib.
But Yates here transmutes it into a genuinely terrifying spectacle, as bloodied students fight desperately against a horde of screaming black-robed Death Eaters…
This is monumental cinema, awash with gorgeous tones, and carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it.
This is not an end. How could it be?
In the last scene, we know that even if there will be no more books, these characters will live with us for ever.
Justin Chang, Variety:
Such enormous anticipation has saddled “Part 2” with pressures no movie should have to bear, and it should rightly be viewed and assessed as the second half of one long film (the full double feature is being presented in select theaters). Still, as director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have constructed their two-part finale to pay off in full here, it’s only fair to expect this eighth chapter to stand on its own, which it does up to a point. Indeed, with its accelerated rhythm, relentless flow of incident and wizard-war endgame, “Part 2” will strike many viewers as a much more exciting, involving picture than the slower, more atmospheric “Part 1.”
…As preparations are made for an epic clash between good and evil, Yates achieves a thrilling sense of convergence, of innumerable dramatic, thematic, romantic, emotional and musical threads from the past seven films being woven together at last: Old and new friends are well met, comeuppances are dealt out, and little-seen veterans are granted a valedictory moment in the spotlight.
…Through it all, Yates and Kloves take unusual and mostly shrewd liberties with Rowling’s sacred text, mainly during the long, devastating siege at Hogwarts — an extended setpiece that was always going to play better onscreen than on the page. Yates and his team of design artists and f/x wizards take strategic advantage of the castle grounds (masterfully designed by Stuart Craig) to deliver fantastically inventive sights and setpieces that, if never quite rivaling the great war films for martial splendor, nonetheless exist on a scale unlike anything the series has attempted. In the most inspired departure from the book, Voldemort feels weakened each time a Horcrux is destroyed, allowing the digitally disfigured Fiennes to introduce, rather astonishingly, a shade of vulnerability in his portrait of implacable evil.
Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail:
Really, the entire series of Potter books and motion pictures has been leading us to this final showdown between Harry and Voldemort. It could easily have been a letdown. But the fight here between good and evil is more than satisfying. It’s thrilling.
The film versions of JK Rowling’s stories have enthralled me, and I watched them with child-like wonder.
And speaking as someone who has spent half his professional life observing and studying actors, it’s been one helluva ride watching the three leading actors grow up. To be sure, Daniel, Emma and Rupert were rather wooden in their first outing. But they’ve emerged as thespians I want to keep watching…
The Potter films have been a godsend for the British acting profession. Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Kelly Macdonald, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, have all had memorable moments over the years, and they get some more here.
I counted 1,132 names in the credits; I know I missed a hundred more. All of them – actors, producers, technicians, specialists – are among the best working in British movies. And now they’re out of a job. But what a way to go.