It’s a big, wonderful and warm film. This feels as engaged with human life as Part 1 felt detached and cold. Did there really need to be two movies of this book? Cynically, it’s a decision that makes more money for the franchise. Given the really long and empty bits of Part 1, I would have preferred one more tightly-edited tale.
But Part 2 is really great, all by itself. It won’t trouble my top ten list, but it is very enjoyable to watch. J.K. Rowling’s books created a world of wizards that touched the hearts of children and adults alike. They got lots of people reading who didn’t normally read books. This is a very good thing.
The 3D is magnificent and pulls you into the depths of Gringotts Bank where our heroes are seeking a horcrux. In case you have been away on Mars, a horcrux holds part of Voldemort’s soul and, therefore, these objects are key to his immortality. Ralph Fiennes reprises his ultimate bad guy role.
Why does he have no nose? Is this about him becoming a snake? If there is an explanation in the book, I’ve forgotten it. Fiennes is excellent, but you will end up staring at the place that his nose should be.
Emma Watson as Hermione has a very pretty nose. The camera sticks with her profile for great chunks of time, so you get to admire it from a lot of different angles.
Yes, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma are all now too old for these parts. They get stuck in with great verve and you forget their actual ages very quickly.
The flying and fighting scenes have always been the great strengths of these movies. These are enhanced by the 3D which sometimes errs on the side of too much physical darkness and distracts you from the fine detail. I found myself slipping the 3D glasses off to enjoy the lighting of the faces a little better.
Helena Bonham Carter is terrific as Bellatrix Lestrange, hamming it up and clearly having enormous fun. There isn’t enough of Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, for me, but then he is my favourite character. Alan Rickman achieves great good and great evil in his portrayal of Snape.
It’s true to the book, so purists will not be offended by this. The creatures are magnificent, from the great flying bird-like beings to the snakes and gargoyles and dragons. I stopped counting at 18 special effects companies on the credits. David Yates does a fine job of directing although the music – apart from that iconic theme – felt a little flat at times.
Hogwarts School itself comes into its own as a character and the epic scenes set there are truly magical. Explosions, fires and falling masonry add to the sense of threat in these sequences.
The packed audience at Greenwich Picturehouse absolutely adored it.
There is some very special homage to the first film that takes you back through the long journey of Harry and his friends. You realise you will miss looking forward to the next of these movies as they feel like old friends. If you have children who grew up with these characters, knowing you are at the end of this long period with Harry Potter feels a little poignant.
Yes, there is lots here that is derivative and the sword battles remind you of Star Wars and the Force. That familiar feeling from many of the images has always been a weakness and a strength, in this series. Seeing it on its opening day felt like being a member of a very special club.