As the credits role you can’t help but be saddened that the adventures of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have come to an end. Even more saddening though (minor, yet obvious, spoiler alert) is that the trio have to put up with a fairly cringworthy closing scene, allegedly 19 years later, which sees them all reunited as their children make their way to platform 9 and three-quaters.
Admittedly it would have been expensive and probably unnecessary to digital age the group 19 years in order, but if Harry was 17 at the films climax, that would make him 36, and Radcliffe only looks in his mid twenties, which is obviously unsurprising when he is almost 21 in the real world.
Ron fairs worse, gaining a highly unconvincing beer belly, which Hermoione is the only one of the three which gets close to convincing.
Of course, by this point these things barely matter, since the excitement of the conclusion to this epic saga is ringing in the audience’s mind.
Part 2 begins right where Part 1 left off, so make sure you’ve brushed up before you go, with the trio of friends on a reed-covered beach, which resembles the image of Greek afterlife the Elysian Fields, as Harry morns Dobby’s heroic death.
The journey to destroy the horcruxes, parts of evil-doer Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul, continues, leading them back to Hogwarts for a Return of the King-esque final battle.
The supporting cast are as great as ever, particularly Michael Gambon who returns as Dumbledore in flashbacks, and fan-favourite Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) steals the show as leader of Hogwarts’ defence.
The self-reference of the films reaches fever-pitch as two of our heroes are forces to re-enter the Chamber of Secrets, a film which is drawn on almost non-stop at the close of the story, making you wonder if it was Rowling’s favourite as it seemed to contribute the most to the overall story.
At the end of any hero’s story, there has to be a face off with the arch enemy. In this case Harry and Voldemort come to blows with the usual display of red and green light and what looks like paint sparking out of each of their wands. Still after all this time it would have been nice to see some proper magic going on, wasn’t Harry supposed to have taken a lot of interesting magic lessons at this school? It seems the sum total of his skill after 7 years is limited to shouting ‘Stupify’, ‘Reducto’ and simply deflecting spells directed at him with a casual flick of the wrist.
In all the magic element seems to have been under-used, with the virtually limitless possibilities of turning things into other things, transforming oneself (or transfiguring to use the Potter-ism) and conjuring things, this potential is barely even touched upon.
Another let down is that the ‘quest’ element of the story draws the trio away from the more fun aspects of the films over the years such as the school lessons themselves or the airbourne rugby sport that is Quidditch, indeed Harry is only seen on a broomstick for the briefest of moments this time around.
The quieter emotional moments are more convincing now though, with Alan Rickman (as Severus Snape) in particular putting on an impressive range, a stark contrast to his usual monotone self (which is nonetheless absolutely note-perfect).
Still, the battle of Hogwarts is undoubtedly a spectacle, taking up a major portion of the second half, and sees the castle we have come to know so well torn to pieces, much to the dismay of caretaker Mr Filtch.
The difficulty with telling a story most of the audience know the ending to is keeping things interesting, exciting and unexpected. Director David Yates manages this brilliantly, keeping everyone on their toes throughout, and undoubtedly delivering a cinematic spectacle if the cheers, laughs and applause of the cinema crowd are anything to go by.
Interestingly the biggest cheer came at the demise of a particular character, but not one you might expect… The entire cast perform at their best in battle, with every character having their moment. Best of all is Jason Isaacs’ Lucius Malfoy, who has such a contrast between now and when he first appeared in the Chamber of Secrets that he is scarcely recognisable.
In the end, with the conclusion of the story comes a clear and pointed full stop at the end of a magical journey that spans a decade. As the Hogwarts’ Express pulls out of the platform you almost wish the story would begin all over again.
James Michael Parry