After seven films, 11 years, four directors and a cumulative running time that lasts longer than a Jewish wedding, the story of the world’s most famous magic-channelling do-gooder finally comes to a close in a fireball of cheese and spectacle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two.
Grab a tissue and wipe away your tears, Potter-philes, ‘cause there’ll be no more wand wavering, no more gibberish chanting, no more daffy Rowling sub-plots, no more borderline legal adolescent romances, no more Maggie Smith in witches’ garb.
This is Hazza’s last hurrah. Or, to put it more accurately, Hazza’s last hurrah: part two, which means there’s no chance Hollywood can squeeze out another instalment. There are no more books to split in half. Franchise devotees unwilling to accept that the curtain is drawn but exhausted by the prospect of re-watching the back catalogue for the zillionth time may find a Potter afterlife by embracing remnants of the series that will find new homes elsewhere.
Helena Bonham Carter, for example, will again breathe tortured life into a fuzzy-haired crazy woman who looks like she feeds too many stray cats. Michael Gambon will continue to stroke that fabulously fulsome silver beard as if it were a soft purring cat. And Alan Rickman will gleefully lick the bile from his gums at the prospect of again wearing dark clothes and striking fear in the hearts of small children.
The Deathly Hallows: Part One was, unsurprisingly, awfully unfinished business, a two and a half hour wait for a non-existent finale. Part two promised a spectacular sound-n-fury showdown between the bookish young’un and his flat-faced nobody-dareth-speaketh-his-name arch enemy Voldemort, played with dastardly aplomb by Ralph Fiennes, and spectacular it is.
The plot is not so much a story but a string of set pieces: the school Hogwarts, with all its nooks and crannies and weird rooms, objects and life forces; an enchanted woods; a few moments at a train station where kids are encouraged to run straight into stone pillars.
When it looks good, it looks really good, even through distracting Potter-shaped 3D glasses that predictably add little to nothing to the experience. This is style trumping substance, no doubt about it, but amid the noise and chaos the back stories and subplots prove surprisingly resilient to the rivers of good looking aesthetic gunk that stream through them.