After ten years, eight films, two Dumbledores, only one child actor getting arrested for drug-dealing and several billion dollars in box office revenue, you have to admit that JK Rowling and Warner Brothers Studios have done alright for themselves in adapting the world’s most popular childrens book series to the silver screen.
The films have shared a similar trajectory in quality as with the books themselves. The first two are innocuous childrens fare produced by industry veteran Chris Columbus who is most famous for directing the Home Alone films. Surprisingly, after such a safe and conservative start, some bigwig producer at Warner, or perhaps Rowling herself, steered the franchise down a more ambitious path, hiring auteurs who had a vision to bring the world of Hogwarts to life in a series of darker, more intelligent and more emotionally engaging films. Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and David Yates were all handed the reigns as director and as a result the franchise thrived with a series of excellent instalments that brought out of the best in the child actors and in the potential of the source material itself.
Upon reflection, it really is remarkable and highly improbable that these films have worked out as well as they have. They could have botched the casting. They could have taken creative liberties with the story. They could have Americanized it. But they didn’t.
And here we are at long last, with the final instalment – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part B in 2D and Real3D – where everyone involved, from the creators to the fans, bid a fond farewell to the much-loved franchise by enjoying the spectacle of Harry and his friends facing off against Lord Voldemort in an explosive two hour winner-takes-all battle for Hogwarts.
So, is it any good?
The short answer – yes. This is a film that is almost entirely about the payoff. Deathly Hallows Part A was all about the camping, Deathly Hallows Part B is all about the fighting, kissing and killing. Given that the films stick pretty closely to the source material, its reassuring that everything happens the way that it should. In the big climatic battle the meek inherit Hogwarts. Neville Longbottom gets his moment of glory, Ron Weasley comes up with the bright ideas and Mrs Weasley gets to say that famous line to Bellatrix LeStrange. All of these moments are genuine crowd pleasers that we’ve waited years to see.
The film mostly shares the book’s shortcomings too. There are so many deaths that even the passing of some major characters can only be lingered upon for a fleeting moment before the story presses on. And then there’s that ill-advised epilogue with middle-aged Harry sending his kid to school. It’s as awkward on screen as it reads in the books. At the end of the day, these are just minor quibbles though.
So that’s that then. The End of Harry Potter. It’s been an enjoyable series that more or less did the books justice and kept the fans happy. It made a squillion dollars, made stars out of three nice young actors and gave us eight decent films. You can’t ask for more than that can you?