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Wild About Harry

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Mark Kermode | 16:51 UK time, Thursday, 14 July 2011

It's ten years since the Harry Potter films started and now we have reached the very last movie Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Here I review this final installment and lament the passing of a brilliant British franchise.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Whilst no great fan of the HP books or films the films themselves have got progressively better and better from 4 onwards, a remarkable achievement when most sequels fail at number 3 at best and then spiral down to dross and blatant attempts to milk out money. The glory of HP is that with the books it has enormously contributed to a mass uptake of kids (and the not so young) rediscovering the joy of reading and staying with it to expand to other authors. And for the films they have made a tremendous impact in restoring the british film industry and creating our own superior high tech special effects expertise that will stand us in good stead for all manner of filmmaking for years to come.

    As a total non sequitur I suggested on a bbc questionnaire on your site that it would be great to have the option to suggest future subjects for Dr K's blog and I've noticed other contributors have sneaked some of these in. So could I suggest " two degrees of degradation" as a subject, that being where a director goes from making a great film to a total dud, especially where the subsequent film in pretentious and indulgent. Examples that spring to minds are M Night Shyalaman's transition from the village to lady in the water, or Cimino's flight from Deer Hunter to Heaven's gate. There must be load's out there so would Dr K wish to take up this as a future subject? Many thanks. Pete (Edinburgh)

  • Comment number 2.

    So what that the Harry Potter movies do so well around the world, Doc? I thought all a movie doing well at the box office means is " made money"...

  • Comment number 3.

    There are many things wrong with HP7 the book. And doubtless there will be things wrong with the film (alas, I'm not seeing it until Sunday!)
    But - as has been pointed out - in a world where people not only go to see Transformers but actually think it's a good film, then the HP series is on a whole different planet, quality-wise. And it's mainly because the films are built on the solid foundation of a fairly well-constructed series of books.
    For comparison - why is PotC4 not a total disaster compared to the previous 2? Because they took an existing book to build on. Sure they then ripped it apart, but at least there was a structure for it that made it feel vaguely coherent.

    As a collective whole, the makers of the HP series did an excellent job. Although Dr K decries Columbus' attempts. he had to do a very difficult job of establishing a world for new viewers who hadn't read the books - and he also had to deal with the most "childish" of the books; the first book in particular is so anodyne that I'm still amazed it works at all as a film (and it almost doesn't.) And if he hadn't done the groundwork, then it would have gone wrong later on. Not to mention finding some child actors who turned out to be moderately good in the long run. No, these movies aren't "great" in any way. But in the commodified blockbuster world we live in, they were a refreshing breeze. I too will miss them once they are gone.

  • Comment number 4.

    Everyone is all exited and sad that this is the final Potter film but not me - This franchise has plodded on for a decade and has finally limped over the finish line - The first two were not good at all - The third never felt quite right - The 4th & 5th were a bore - The 6th was a fill in until the 7th - The 7th was spilt into 2 - On and on it plods - 7 books turned into 8 films - There is nothing distinctive about these films it's more like a giant mass - They will be forgotten very soon as none of these films are loved as individual films - Nobody asks what your favorite Potter film is Like they did with Star Wars (That does not mean I'm a Star Wars Fan) -

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the HP movies are definately overrated in some ways. Many people rave on about them and I have to say that it's always a bit surprising to me as I'd give the best of them 7.8/10 or so at the most? I think people are so charmed by them that it clouds their judgement a bit and hence go around saying they're exceptional films, quality wise. Anyway, I certainly appreciate Rowling's imagination. And it's certainly entertaining. And I like the fact that so many people enjoy them as much as they do. That's really nice.

  • Comment number 6.

    Now that we're at the end of the road, Dr. K, it's time to give it up and admit that Harry Potter wouldn't have reached the heights it has reached without Chris Columbus. Directing is largely a matter of making the right choices and this man chose the right actors, the right production design and then he went and chose the right DIRECTOR. Columbus wasn't kicked off of the project, he stayed on as producer and therefore his hands were in that choice.
    If Columbus was a "bean-counter," then this amounted to a very fine hill of beans.

  • Comment number 7.

    I loved Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 when I saw it on Wednesday. Three times! It is sad to think that an 'end of an era' series has indeed come to an end. But then all good things must.

    I'm pleased to have the opportunity to enjoy the books and the movies and the DVDs to view whenever I feel in the mood.

    The movies have been a great British achievement for all involved. It will be a long time before another series so good comes around again. Especially as each of the movies has improved, rather than declined.

    Seeing it again tonight at local indie family cinema, IN 2D at last! Can't wait to see how the movie SHOULD be viewed. The retro-fitted 3D was so subtle to be almost non-existent. Only a few 'oooh, ahhh' shots really benefitted from it.

    I've enjoyed every minute of the movies and will treasure them, ALWAYS!

  • Comment number 8.

    Nothing to add - just testing that the log-in works.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think this is the end of the most overhyped series in the history of film. With all of your praise for the last 4 or 5 installments. I have to wonder if we were watching the same movies. I did like the third and seventh episodes, but even they are only noteworthy in their lack of memorable moments. I have retained more from many terrible films that I only viewed once (and decades ago) while remembering practically nothing from the entire Potter franchise. Only the Prisoner of Azkaban had any semblance of a clever story with its use of temporal loops, but even that I've seen before (and done better). There is no more depth here than in any of the Bay Transformer films (and the Potter series has been largely humorless). I agree with Matth Stil (comment #2) on what you say about this film being embraced around the world while choosing to chalk up Bay's success to advertising (Potter has had one of the biggest marketing campaigns even from its inception in book form).
    The entire series has had a 'written as we go along' feel to it. Every defeat of the villain (at the end of most of the films) was utterly meaningless. He just randomly pops up again in the next installment, so his final defeat here is going to not carry much eight. 'Redundant' would be my one word assessment of the entire series.
    None of the films (so far) merit calling them classics. These are certainly not Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Fantasia, Pinnochio... Jim Henson's offerings like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth... The Iron Giant... Time Bandits... The Secret Of NIMH... ET... Dragonslayer... I can go on and on.... The Potter series, with all of their high budgeted bluster, do not stack up well against the true classics. The stories boil down to nothing more than whose wand is bigger, Harry's or Voldemort's.
    I know you're pulling for the home team in this case, which explains your extremely lenient sentiment towards the series. These ARE 'event' films, but so what? The 'macarena' was an event back in the 1990s. Having event status doesn't make it good.
    I will watch HPATDHb tomorrow for no other reason than having seen all of the others. Is that OCD? Maybe. In any case, I for one am glad the series is ending.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm sorry but Chris Columbus was WAY better than Alfonso Cuarón. The first 2 films feel magical. Yes, they have their flaws and dodgy acting but you can kind of forgive it. In my opinion Prisoner of Azkaban was the best book but worst film. The set surrounding Hogwarts randomly changed for no reason. Some may like it better that way but i think the way it looks in the first 2 films was fine and this just ruins continuity. Also the Werewolf effects were rubbish, the CGI sucked, think how good they made a Werewolf look all the way back in 1981 with American Werewolf in London. But the most annoying thing for me was that they leave out the bit where we find out who made the Marauder's map. There's all this talking between Lupin and Harry at the end and im thinking 'surely he's going to mention it soon' but it doesn't happen. I don't think HP3 is a bad film just the worst of the series and i think Alfonso Cuarón was maybe a bit too much style over substance. Trying to make it his own rather than it being part of a series. Also it has some of the worst Daniel Radcliffe acting (the 'he was their friend' scene). Thank god he's improved. By the way my favourite films in the series are Chamber of Secrets and HP7A. I think it all started well, had a bit of a dip in quality, then got better with the last few films. I look forward to Deathly Hallows part 2. Sorry about the rant, just stop slagging off Chris Columbus. This man wrote Gremlins and gave us Home Alone for God's sake! Give him some credit!

  • Comment number 11.

    Now surely that Stephen Fry joke only really worked because it is he himself who reads for the audiobooks?

  • Comment number 12.

    As a moderate fan of the books I was underwhelmed by the first two Chris Columbus helmed films. They seemed like mere illustrated versions of the books, not proper films in their own right. Their crowning achievements were their casting and the art direction and effects. Bringing the world of Potter to life is no mean feat, and full props to CC for wrangling that, but the pacing felt like a lifeless box ticking exercise as beat by beat the novels were illustrated. Columbus is a workmanlike director, and I don't mean this as code for "hack", but his cannon also includes Bicentennial Man, Rent, I Love You Beth Cooper, and Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief. His gift is for directing comedies that usually end with a slice of maudlin sentimentality. Let's not forget how Gremlins 2 ruthlessly parodied the Columbus penned clunker "Phoebe's bad Christmas" scene from Gremlins, with her traumatic tale of Lincoln's Birthday.

    Cuaron's Prisoner, on the other hand was the first Potter that felt like a proper film, selectively rather than slavishly making its way through the source material, and has some nice filmic touches, such as the seasons shown by the Whomping Willow. The series along with its characters and actors has matured well ever since. Goblet just about pulls off stuffing the longest novel into its running time, and is the first to end with an "unfortunate incident" (the importance of the unfortunate character in each subsequent instalment getting greater). HP7A gave us Harry and Hermione dancing to Nick Cave, something I would never have imagined in this series, but a scene that spoke beautifully to the depth of their affection and friendship.

    I have reasonably high hopes for 7B, as 7A actually made it through the boring questy bit of the book (in the same way as the Lord of The Rings films made the boring trudging through bogs for 1 and a half books) much better.

  • Comment number 13.

    I've never seen one.

    Rented the first one & fell asleep during it it was so boring. (I vaguely remember a two headed dog mid slumber).

    Do I really want to invest my time in catching up?

  • Comment number 14.

    Agree with everything you said there mark. I ordered tickets to see the movie and could only find 3D coming up, luckily I found a 2D showing! I have listened to the first three books (read by stephen fry,brilliant!) and have seen all the movies. I watched part 1 again the other day,at night and was genuinely scared. I'm 16!

  • Comment number 15.

    The biggest problem I had with the films was that they pandered far too much to the fans of the books.

    Essentially, the first two films really ought to have been compacted into one movie. They followed virtually the same pattern - characters arrive at Hogwarts, there's a game of Quidditch, Harry finds something buried within the castle with a connection to Voldermort - And the character development over two films could easily fit into one.

    The third film is still the best in my opinion, but introduced far too many sparse ideas, most notably the time travel story towards the end.

    The fourth was easily the worst I've seen so far. Basically Harry Potter Does Sports Day. It was incredibly dull.

    Installments five and six, again, really could've been told in one movie. Remove all the pointless exposition and re-establishment of characters and it could be achieved.

    Of course, this could never have happened as it would've upset those fans of the books who wanted to see every minute detail translated to the big screen. However, those of us who couldn't care less about the source material but DO care about great film making, were left with a frustrating saga of movies, totalling a staggering 20 hours, which could easily have been a cinematic masterpiece of, say, 10 hours (three films perhaps).

  • Comment number 16.

    I can't believe the largely pompous and cynical views being posted here. Some people should simply stick to the sorts of films they like rather than perservering with a subject matter and "franchise" that is clearly not to their tastes; they are the equivalent of meeting a stranger at a party who indulges their high-brow opinions about this, that and nothing when all you are there for is to have fun. Go get a life!

  • Comment number 17.

    Thank you @hairyguitarist for your point of view as I agree with you 100% that film was very much a show off of graphics rather than "pandering" to Harry Potter fans. With the "pandering" that @Miracle Mile says is going on I say well... yeah! Of course they are going to pander to the fans of Harry Potter as that is who they are making the films for. Why would they base a set of films on a book and then make them to suit a completely different demographic from the original books?

    I also think it's disgusting that there are some cinema's that won't let you see a film in 2D especially such a big film as this. There is nothing that can be added to most films by transferring it into 3D. Granted for some films it does work but in the main part those films are made purely for the spectical of the graphics used in 3D for instance Avatar and Transformers. Whereas other films which have a plot to work around can be diminished by 3D as the directors can be trying to shoot the film more for the spectical than for the actual storyline that they are trying to convey.

    I did see this film last night in 2D with the first part before it and absolutely loved it. I have been a big fan of the series since it first arrived ten years ago. The one big problem I have with this film is the rating as it is trying to still show itself as being a child's film but it isn't anymore. These last two or three films are made for the people like myself who were children when the first film started and are now teenagers or in their twenties. Therefore I feel some of the content and visuals may be unsuitable for young children who, in many cases, are being brought along by their parents to see a popular children's film.
    :: spoiler :: In the scene when Harry has died and is in King's Cross, he looks underneath a bench and sees this creature with the face of Voldemort but with a small withered body covered in blood :: end spoiler ::
    This scene I think would be disturbing to some small children who may be going to see this film. As I work in a cinema at the Box Office I see the ages of some children going into 12A films and in some cases there are toddlers and even babies. I may seem like a over cautious person but I think that children that young could be very scared by this film and even sensitive 11 year old's could be disturbed. For this film I personally would want the original 12 rating rather than a 12A as this is no longer a child's film, this is a teenagers film therefore a 15 rating would be totally uncalled for.

    The first few films and books in this series are made for children but they have matured as their fans have matured. These films are no longer made for 7 year old's. I know most will disagree with me saying that I am being over sensitive but I believe our children are already desensitized enough and should be allowed to be children and be scared of things rather than expected to understand and handle adult content before they are even near their teenage years. I saw some scenes last night through the eyes of a six year old and I think they would be terrified.

  • Comment number 18.

    I liked that scene where Harry fights the dragon. You know, where he's on that turret at a certain point? Which HP movie was that again? I think it was the third one? That one also has that moment in the forest where this grey beast flies through the trees towards Harry and the other kids. That was a nice moment.

  • Comment number 19.

    While I am a big fan of LOTR, I do not at all understand the point of the Harry Potter story. Any meaning it was meant to have was only bolted on at the end to give it any credibility; Christian and religious sybolism; good versus evil, etc. I watched about 5 minutes of one of the films, and my immediate impression was there was too much happening on screen, too many characters, and it was generally a mess. JK Rowling doesn't seem to understand that less is more (the directors are only extrapolating from and embellishing the source material so it's not entirely their fault).

    LOTR is an allegory of WWI; Harry Potter was, and is, about little more than a boy on a broomstick. I'm glad it's over.

  • Comment number 20.

    Problem I have with Potterworld (movies and books) is that they become fused into a jumbled whole in my mind; I remember individual scenes but can’t quite remember which film/book they come from or the exact plot that any one film/book had.

    There is an exception: Deathly Hallows (AKA Deadly Tedium) pt 1. Regrettably I do remember much of that film; even if sections were so badly lit I couldn’t make out who was who.

    I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed various parts of the HP movies; just that they don’t add up to a whole, either as individual movies or a series following a story arc.

    Hopefully DH pt 2 will stand out; not least because the baddie will get his just deserts and the whole series finally ends.

    But Yes; a big thumbs up to all the British talent involved in their making; may in encourage more Hollywood blockbusters to be made in the UK; we could certainly use their money right now. (Hmm, how do we attract Chinese blockbusters? That’s where the real money is.)

  • Comment number 21.

    I cried, a lot, and I am so sad it has come to an end, the final film is the best of the year and will be looked back on 10, 20 years time as a true classic, I know there are a lot of people who hate modern cinema but they base that on transformers, avatar the action blockbusters with no substance, but come on guys when you were younger you had to put up with star wars, film in general has taken a generic, dumb, money making turn but there is stuff around today with a level of narrative substance and indulgent attention to detail, which is about people and which is emotional and most of all is clever and harry potter 7 part 1 and part 2 have only payed homage to that

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm just a bit fed-up with the box-office numbers being bandied about as if they prove anything other than the amount of money taken in ticket sales. In these days of 5-day opening weekends; increasing ticket prices - esp. the price of 3D tickets and the unfair comparison between the takings of today's cinema and that of 35 years ago, it's no wonder that 'records' are being broken all the time. I guess it's good for the hype, and makes fans feel better, but ultimately it's no indicator of quality. Apart from a Michael B*y film, in which case we know it's crap ! ;-)

    Specifically regarding HP - I've seen the first 2 films. On the TV. And my overwhelming feeling was 'meh'. I just couldn't bring myself to care either way, and I'm usually well up for a bit of sci-fi / fantasy.

    More tea ?

  • Comment number 23.

    It was definetely the best HP movie, the visuals at times were amazing and the fight scene choreography was great. but is anyone else still annoyed at the younger people in the film are nowhere near as well acted as the adults. i think it would of been alot better if harry, ron & hermione were proper established actors when they were casted in the beginning. i just can't take their serious dialogue seriously.

  • Comment number 24.

    I could watch Bellatrix & Voldemort scenes all day.

  • Comment number 25.

    @8 Billdukenfield

    Hello bill. Next time however i expect to see your camolies on the table. Welcome to FIGHT CLUB . Remember the rules!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I am glad to see some people have admitted that they don't cvare for these movies and I am very happy to join there number because I really couldn't care less that this is the last Harry Potter film.

    When the first movie came out I saw it on Boxing Day in 2001. That day I saw Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring before Philosopher's Stone. At the time I had never read either of the books and did not know either of them that well and yet I came out of Fellowship saying to myself "I am going to read all of the books". I have read all of the Lord of the Rings 3 times in the intervening period. I then went into the first Harry Potter and came out thinking "I will never read these books." The first Harry Potter is 2 and a half hours long and nothing happens for the first 75 minutes as everyone is introduced and then for the rest of the film it's 75 minutes of plot that grinds along.

    I have much the same attitude to the second movie, Chamber of Secrets which again introduces much the same bunch of characters and a few more and then there's more plot.

    I went to see the 3rd movie and was amazed at how good it was. Prisoner of Azkaban was so well done that I looked forward to the 4th movie.

    Alas when I saw the 4th movie it was back to how I felt with parts 1 and 2 and I then gave up on the series.

    The problem with the Harry Potter movies is that unlike Lord of the Rings (which had Peter Jackson unifying all the parts and making a brilliant adaptation that appealed to both fans and non-fans alike) the Harry Potter movies have only been made for those who like the books. Hollywood has been churning the Potter movies out for the last few years (like sausages) and to a non-fan like me they remain (with the exception of the 3rd movie) films that just fail to hit the spot.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yeah they're alright but they are no Lord of The Rings, I can be entertained by a Harry Potter film but they just don't have the moving, emotional, epic and majestic quality that the Lord of the Rings films had. I miss them :( except at least the hobbit is coming yaaaaaaaaay

  • Comment number 28.

    'It All Ends' ....Thank the lord!

  • Comment number 29.

    I was very impressed with Deathly Hallows Part 2. The pacing was great and it never grinds to a hault. The film has a great look to it and I personally love David Yates' direction. Some very touching moments that you would expect and it is nice to see a blockbuster type movie that has geniune care behind it. I am very glad I saw this in 2D as I could easily see the 3D being awful in the darker scenes.
    My only real problem with the film is just how cringe-worthy the coda is. It feels somewhat out of place and the actors make-up/cgi to make them look older is simply terrible.
    Chris Columbus was very hit or miss for me. You have to give the guy a lot of credit for producing all the HP films and he possibly had the hardest taskin that he had to set up a film that readers of the books and non-readers will both like. The films have grown up, just as the books have.

  • Comment number 30.

    The Harry potter films, in my opinion, started out well. For the first two or three films they were coherent, held togeher and made sense. After that, no, not really. I never read the books so couldn't piece the story together from that... I haven't seen DHpt1 or DHpt2 either and I'll wait untill they show on telly for free 'cause they don't make any sense any more. The one before the last milking was terrible, made no sense, was disjointed and just left the viewer wondering?????

  • Comment number 31.

    See, that just makes me miss Stephen Fry doing the BAFTAs.

  • Comment number 32.

    Interesting how this is panning out. Reminds me of Clerks 2. the Star wars vs Lord of the Rings Duel ( one ring to rule them all!!!) mmmm.
    Clearly Harry is a cinematic marmite. I love Potter ,i love all the wonderful british actors,i love the wonderful characters, love it love it love it . I have children and it has been a wonderful annual treat to go see the next Potter. I dont get the whole ,first two were rubbish arguement at all, i love all of em.I cant take the books either Potter or LOTR, i find the books long winded and boring, and they dont flow well. The LOTR films were terrible, basically a very long chase sequence were you go from a cave to a forest to snow to woods ,etc,etc,etc,etc and every now and again someone pops off, yawn.

  • Comment number 33.

    Why isn't film 24 online anymore? The last two episodes don't seem to have been put up. Is it not being done any more?

  • Comment number 34.

    Probably old hat but puts the 3D question succinctly and balanced

  • Comment number 35.

    I managed to get into a 2D showing on the opening night and was one of the worst times I've ever spent in a cinema. You would have thought being the last film people would have sat in their seats and shut up, but that was not the case. Behind me I had a group of what must have been 13 year old girls constantly giving a running commentary saying lines such as 'It's Harry Potter!' and 'Here comes Neville!' My fingers was gripping the sides of my chair as I got more and more worked up until finally I asked them to be quiet. This seemed to work until one of them started crying at the film in a completely over the top way just so everyone knew she was crying, this sparked up the talking again. Along side this there was a guy in the back row who kept making sounds every five minutes resemblent of an angry caveman. By this point I was almost in tears and was hoping the rest of the cinema was on my side. But then I was greeted every five minutes by the clapping and cheers of the cinema as every little thing happened on screen. This was a film not a football match, a cheer at the end of the film is fine, but by cheering certain lines and developments were completely lost. Add on all the rustling and slurping I was convinced this was the place of nightmares and completly ruined my experience!

    The beginning of the film had a spokesperson from Warner Bros. come in and alert the audience that they were keeping a watch on for piracy. If only they kept an eye on the ridiculous noise pollution, that would protect their film more.

  • Comment number 36.

    Interesting how the franchise matches up with your time on wittertainment, for me it's matched up exactly with my time as a projectionist. I started the job as the first film came out, and looks like redundancy shall be hitting just after this film comes out. I hope the 3D version is a complete and abject failure as it will delay the installation of the digi screens.

  • Comment number 37.

    More people went to see HP7 pt 2 in 2D than 3D.

  • Comment number 38.

    The one that really works for me is Order of the Phoenix mainly because of the performance by Imelda Staunton doing that terrifying Margaret Thatcher/Mary Poppins hybrid.

  • Comment number 39.

    I had to hunt around to find a 2D showing, but boy was I glad I did. That was a very dark (in both tone and palette) movie that might have had me straining through 3D glasses to figure out what was going on. As it was the plot was fairly incomprehensible to non-readers of the book such as myself (and Mr Fiennes), but I still enjoyed the experience and thought it finished off the (film) saga rather well. The younger leads did a fantastic job but the highlight for me was Rickman's final turn as Severus Snape. The scene at the Hogwarts assembly had the whole audience I was with holding their breath.

  • Comment number 40.

    I saw HP7b last night. I will say it's the third best of the series behind 3 and 7a, but it was still disappointing, all 9 hours of it. Lots of cool CGI and even more exposition. Lotsa' splainin' goin' on... I DID it 3 out of 5, but that's partially because it's finally over and that's truly a cause for celebration. And Kelly McDonald made an appearance.
    The best part of the film were the trailers shown for Hugo, John Carter and, of course, The Dark Knight Rises. Can't wait for that last one.

  • Comment number 41.

    This was the a really solid ending to the series...
    I miss it already

    Here's my review too

  • Comment number 42.

    I've never posted (anywhere) before. I didn't read all the HP books and do not consider myself a devotee. Still, I have enjoyed all of the films and have always looked forward to seeing the next one in the series. My family is at the age where any DVD has to be watched at least 50 times and these films stand up to that amount of viewing. If every British film was described as exceptional they would, by definition, be average. And, by the way, I am asked everytime I watch one of these films (cinema or DVD) which one is my favourite. I accept that, as I accept the films, because I realise that these films weren't made for me (although I benefit from them) they were made for my children.

  • Comment number 43.

    I only really judge each Harry Potter film against the others because much as I enjoy some of them - and I enjoyed the finale - they are massively flawed. I think most of the big problems stem from the writing, which gives the actors a really difficult time and makes the plotting both incomprehensible and patronising. This was a particular issue with this last part, when the so-called 'rule of three' - tell us morons the plot three times so we can remember - was put into play over and over again.

    My major problem with the films is that disregarding the lack of respect for our intelligence, which is not always but often a problem, they have a COMPLETE lack of respect for those of us who've not read the books, only seen the films. Why is it assumed that everybody in the world has read all of the books? It's a problem with several effects:

    1. It leads to unnecessary spoilers (or assumed spoilers) - just take a look at the end of this blog for one of them - thus diffusing what could be an enjoyable tension.
    2. It causes some agonising writing and editing on the part of the films. This last one has this problem, as did its first part moreso. Plot elements which readers will be familiar with are alluded to briefly, or completely ignored/not introduced properly for watchers. Thus the films almost become jukeboxes, a series of rushed clips throwing together everybody's favourite moments from the books and alluding towards a plot which - I assume - is put together more coherently in the books. Surprisingly, I felt the last film could perhaps be longer (or, at the very least, plot points which are laboured over could be trimmed, while other scenes lengthened. Mother Weaseley's "bitch" line was crowbarred in more obviously than anything else).

    The films mix disregard for film-watchers, only caring to put a picture into the minds of readers and make them feel part of the club...and disregard for anyone's intelligence. Even those who've read the books for 14 years are apparently not smart enough to remember the most obvious plot details. Case in point (without spoilers) - a flashback detailing future events in DHP2 tells us THIS THING MUST HAPPEN TO HARRY at least 3 times. So don't forget that THIS THING HAS TO HAPPEN, OK? IF THIS THING DOESN'T HAPPEN TO HARRY BECAUSE ANYTHING STOPS THIS THING HAPPENING TO HARRY THEN THIS THING WON'T HAPPEN TO HARRY AND OTHER THINGS WHICH WE'LL BASH YOUR HEAD IN WITH WON'T HAPPEN. SO MAKE SURE THIS THING HAPPENS TO HARRY, OK?

    That said, and despite the deeply ingrained problems - artistically and ideologically - of much of the Harry Potter series, the last film was enjoyable.

  • Comment number 44.

    I have never seen a whole HP film. I've caught bits of all the ones that have been on TV at one time or another but I haven't been enticed or interested enough by what I 've seen to sit down and concentrate on what is happening.

    But considering I have never seen the films, never listened to Stephen Fry reading the books and have, certainly, never read the books myself, I can probably tell you a whole hell of a lot about the plot, the stars, the characters and who makes special appearances in the films (my personal fav being Ian Brown) which must say a lot for the success and the pervasive nature of the series.
    But I won't be able to miss what I never cared for in the start.

  • Comment number 45.

    I saw the first two at the cinema, and I since seen a good chunk of the others at home, though none of the last three.

    As a franchise, it has always left me cold. As a kid, I loved sci-fi, Warhammer FRP, Michael Moorcock, etc, and was intrigued when I heard about the rabid reaction to the books and then the films.

    But I feel no chime with it, at any point. My wife and daughter love the films, and will be seeing this one this week. But I? Nope. I don't believe the characters, the plot coincidences, the plot holes, the lack of internal logic . . . I just don't get it.

    But I understand that, for a generation, this is their written & cinematic touchstone, as was Star Wars in the past. It certainly seems to be going out with a bang. So who's for betting that another book/film/both will be made in 10 years time, eh?

    By the way, Dr K . . . this review - which I believe to be fair and true - backs up my theory that your reviews ARE coloured by your previous experiences / views on certain aspects of movies. No problem with that - you're human like us all - but let's not play this 'open-minded' card, eh? Because with certain combinations of movie elements, you are always going to go a certain way. There are always exceptions, of course - as you would say - but the evidence clearly points this way.

  • Comment number 46.

    Some of the comments here sound totally, well, up the writers backside. 'The early films were childish and almost failures'...The early books, and subsequently the films - were written for CHILDREN. So try watching them with a childs eye. They were actually really well made and followed the books remarkably well. It is in fact the latter films that are a problem for anyone that has actually read the books as they stray too far from the original plot-lines, missing out key story elements and trying to abbreviate books that are arguably as long as the LOTR trilogy, therefore requiring as much screen-time and not getting it. Due to the audience being younger some of the most interesting parts of the books - most notably some of the fight scenes - are not included in the movies. I've just got back from watching the last installment where three of the main characters are killed off - but you don't see how. You simply see the bodies. This is an absolute travesty, both to the characters, the actors who had played the roles well in the previous movies, and the fans of the books. It is not the early movies that are poor - it is the later ones who are trying to function in a more 'adult' style whilst still maintaining a U/12 certificate when they should be played out as the books are written for a 12/15 certificate instead. Rant over!

  • Comment number 47.

    It's a source of great pleasure to have seen the huge success of Rowlings books and the films too, which as you say, can justifiably thought of as British films though backed by American dollars.

    At seven or eight I'd read Tolkein, Lewis, Ursula Leguin, and Alan Garner and so as an adult I was never going to be overwhelmed by the books, I read them to my children who loved them. Likewise the films, I really wanted to like them, and I did more or less, but the Potter saga never really stirred my sense of wonder.

  • Comment number 48.

    Haven't read the books (don't intend to) so I don't know how faithful a translation they are. I've seen a couple of them, when they were on television and I had nothing better to do.

    Special effects. CGI to be precise. That's all I took from the experience and I wan't impressed by either film. I suspect they're a delight for children but, to be honest, I'd rather watch a film with almost zero special effects and a good story (Tarkovsky's Solaris for example) than a film consisting almost entirely of effect and little plot (Transformers or Abram's version of Star Trek).

    I won't be queuing outside my local multi-screen rip-off franchise (a friend paid £10 to see Transformers III...£10????) to see HPatDHP2. I'll save my money to buy a book instead or, perhaps, put it toward a DVD or some music. Anything that isn't as transient as two/three hours of effects-laden nonsense, with as much longevity as the average manufactured girl/boy band...

  • Comment number 49.

    What I find annoying about most of the comments here is the recurring theme, "I saw the first two movies...", or "I saw a couple of them..."

    The thing is you HAVE to see them all. The story itself is spread over all of these movies. Yes, you could make a couple of epic three-hour bum-numbers and try to cut down all the story to being just about voldemort, but that would feel wrong. It would feel more like "This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened and then the end." It'd feel more like a synopsis for a much longer story, and we'd all be saying, "Why didn't they make these into individual movies?".

    The problem with those detractors is that they are perhaps missing the fact that these last two movies actually contain most of the important information. Some may say you almost don't need the first five or six, but really they ARE essential to show the path of the rise to power of the Bad Guys - something which George Lucas's Star Wars prequels spectacularly failed to do, cramming everything into the last ten or twenty minutes of Revenge Of The Sith - and the attachment and relationship of certain characters.

    What Yates has done with all of his movies is IMHO *not* insult the intelligence of his viewers. All his movies have a 'matter-of-fact'-ness about them, much like the original Star Wars trilogy. There was no explanation of what a lightsaber was actually for, or why all the stormtroopers had exactly the same uniform, or unecessary backstory for Luke and Leia...something which, again, he went and ruined with the prequels. Likewise here, in Yates's 'Potterworld' (as some posters refer to it) he feels no need to explain what each flash of light means or why Death Eaters fly like smoke (something not in the books, incidentally) or embellish the exposition like JK Rowling did herself in each installment. Instead, in this movie we get a little bit of an in-joke, I feel, when the goblin says, "How did you come by the sword?". I was braced for a 'previously on Harry Potter...' moment but instead Harry just says, "It's complicated"!

    On a final note, and slight spoiler, I started to weep at the Snape scene. The throwaway, jokey line that has been consistent throughout the series takes on a profund poignancy here as Snape utters, "You have your mother's eyes." Genuinely spine-tingly, goose-bumpy, omg wow, for me. Again, a Yates addition, as this line is not in the book. And the scene is all the better for it.

  • Comment number 50.


  • Comment number 51.


    . . . So if you like a film series, plot inconsistencies can be explained away by 'a matter-of-factness', but if you dislike the film series, then they are plot holes?

    As I earlier said, I've no beef with the franchise - it merely does not chime with me, therefore I feel no compulsion to go and watch it. I've seen enough of films 1-6 to get a feel for what it's about . . . just no interest, that's all.

    Interesting to see that a few people have mentioned what Jason Issacs (hello!) said a few years back - namely, the first two films set the tone for the whole franchise - if they'd flopped, the franchise wouldn't have happened, would it (Golden Compass anyone?). The doc might not rate him, but he got it pretty right first time out.

  • Comment number 52.


    You don't see the deaths of those that die in the battle in the books either. That's true of most of them anyway, if my memory is right.

    I quite liked it that way, just a bit more of a shock - you're supposed to follow Harry - he's been off looking for stuff, comes in all of a sudden and sees what has happened for/because of him.

    Although having said that, I thought the exact same thing about Mad Eye Moody's death in part one; despite being a short mention in the book, I thought in that case, the film glazed over it too quickly.

    Agree with you on the faithfulness of the earlier films though. The first film is one of the best in my opinion and was the perfect set up for the rest of the series.

    I very much appreciate the more idependent style of Part one and two though, for example, the Nick Cave dance scene I think was excellent and most of the cutting of story was sensible.

    Still would have liked Harry to say to Voldemort 'you're an idiot, Snape was a double agent and better than you LOL' as he (basically) does in the book.

  • Comment number 53.

    Harry Potter 7b is definitely one of the better films in the series (much better than the half-a-film 7a). The only time the film goes astray is in making a large apolcalyptic final Harry vs Voldy deathmatch. Sure the fight between the two in the book is short, but that's the point. If it was a long drawn out test of wizarding power Voldemort would win.

    The problem I have with the good Doctor's comments on the series are:

    1) His criticisms of Chris Columbus's direction of the first two. While first film is so so, the second film is by a country mile the best of them, as a Director he clearly cares about the films and proves that you can make a good film based closely from a book.

    2) The praise for Alfonso Cuarón. Lets face it, the third film is awful. It has to be one of the worst films I have ever seen (up there with Transformers 2 and Motocross Zombies from Hell (worst film ever made)). He seems to take the title from the book and nothing else. His direction is cliched and lazy (he completely disrupts the dynamic of three leads relegating Rupert Grint to comedy sidekick after the discovery in film 2 that he can do funny). He completely wastes the talent of Timothy Spall and Gary Oldman and lets not forget the worst ever CGI werewolf to grace the silver screen. The script is poor and leaves out large volumes of sub-plot that become of great importance in later films which forces those films to either gloss over it or leave it out completely.
    He made an individual film for himself, not part of a long series for millions of fans to watch. It was, above all the others, a film to make money.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ CapnSim

    The third movie really isn't awful at all, you know? It's flawed maybe but in my opinion all of them are, really (I even remember Kermode calling the fifth(?) installment nothing less than a holding pattern). But I think the third movie has stuff going for it and this view seems to be the consensus.

  • Comment number 55.

    Good but not magical which is odd for a film about wizards. I blame the cgi.

  • Comment number 56.

    I've read every book (slightly out of order originally but queued for my copy of Deathly Hallows back in 07) and watched every film in the cinema (haven't repeated the experience of an afternoon viewing with children though in 01, never again!) Apart from Goblet of Fire, every time I have left the cinema with a mild level of frustration at how dark/lacking/slow each film was and as someone else stated above, the movies were always moving the story along to this final film.

    24 hours before watching Part 2, I speed read my way through chapter 24 to the end and have to say, bar a few small changes that were worked around successfully, this final film is the best of the lot and the closest to the original books. I finally felt a bit for the characters, something the other films have never managed to manifest.

    As Mark points out, the embellishing of the battle scenes really worked (we've all visualised the battle in our own heads) and had the five year wait to see it on screen was worth it. I didnt cry, there wasnt any need but the feeling inside as it all came to a close was sadness that until a. The Hobbit comes out (and that has been too long imo) b. someone else creates a series as epic and engrossing as HP, we all have a fairly long wait until we the likes of this 'franchise' and book writing take over our winter and summer cinema schedules in a future era.

    Was left wondering once The Hobbit 1 + 2 are over...what will we have after that?

  • Comment number 57.

    With the sole exception of Harry vs Voldemort, I have to largely agree - this is a very successful translation of the second half of the novel to the screen. Unfortunately, since that confrontation is the entire point of the story, it failed completely for me. The way in which Rowling has Harry do the Dumbledore exposition scene, and not in private but in public, is a genuine marvel, and it was all gone in favour of something that, by virtue of being made more "dramatic" for the screen was made infinitely less "dramatic" as a result.

    Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the film a lot, and it's a fine conclusion to a generally fine series. But - with the possible exception of #3 and maybe #7a - none of these films qualify for that limited group of "as good as the book", let alone the vanishingly small subset of "better than the book".

  • Comment number 58.

    Had to watch it in3D as the 2D screenings were all sold out, cinema for 3D was nearly empty, hmm, I think people are finally learning the difference between how a film should look and how some people just want to take your money.

  • Comment number 59.

    Was there no podcast this week? Still hasn't arrived...?

  • Comment number 60.

    it seems to fit into a rare category of film franchises which started off purely as a money making exercise but then subsequently reached a certain point of mass acceptance so that the directors have been given more creative freedom to produce films with a beautiful gothic imagery throughout. That's how its seems anyway, but I have to admit that I've never read a HP book or seen a film. When I picked up one of the books in a shop I had the same reaction as when I tried to read The DaVinci Code ... what was all the fuss about... I can accept all of the points mark is making on an academic kind of level, but to me this is a hammer horror with the dark pagan soul ripped out of it - judging by the things that fans tell me and the snippets of dialogue and descriptions which I've caught. It seems more like an industry than a film - good training and experience for actors, directors, SFX, art directors etc. but I've heard better dialogue on bbc childrens dramas, so what is there to rave about other than the visuals... I find the whole idea of tailored kids horror banal and pointless. I grew up reading Roald Dahl and an adult could enjoy those books as surreal fairytales just as much as children instinctively enjoy them. HP surely can't be considered as original or imaginative as those. It's a bunch of cliches and class ridden sentimentalism that appeals to Americans like tourist trips to the houses of parliament or King's College. It's not British or English, just an excercise in creative marketing. I hope the actors do well in the future with more interesting projects - I noticed that Harrry himself will be in the one of the new Hammer Horrors coming out -

  • Comment number 61.

    Though as you have declared, this is a irrefutable movie, that is both epic, equally as entertaining as the rest, with major faults!
    But seems to erase them in a very fluid swipe!

    The acting has grown, the seminal farce, the script writing by Mr. Kloves, also David Yates himself has set his eyes finally upon a fixation and style and wit for the Potter board, pondering since the sixth.

    3D is a money spinner, it only seems to work for morbidly atrocious vomit like Bays sexual-masculine sweaty robotic trilogy!

    The music is scaled, very emotional, though the problems above and beyond with Yates his his way of trying to please a major leagued audience, or mainstream cinema goers, cinema extremists, or just Potter fans alas us Critics!

    By way of keeping the piece of a system of timing and piece, and eradicating some key pieces of information, he simply acknowledges it and slides it across to be happy, mainstream audiences gaping at their sweet sticking noisy popcorn... Though he's so good at with holding tension and Potter lore together, entwining it you get intrigued, though just left unaccomplished! Just referential for the fans. Also continuity, and possible inadmissible for the Director himself.

    Still a very triumphant/wide berthed/scaled film, that with holds some of aforementioned plot points, and loop holes.

  • Comment number 62.

    According to wikipedia, deathly hallows 2 only made 43% of its money from 3d showings. :) The tide is turning..

  • Comment number 63.

    I'll discuss the Dr.'s clip 1st:

    1/ COLUMBUS (1&2) vs YATES (7a&b): It's interesting that I have the complete opposite pov: I much prefer the first Harry Potter movies than the last ones. Why? It's difficult to slice apart the books or the way the movies were interpreted/made, but (for me):

    a) The Harry Potter early books were classic tales of the sort that have been written about boys and girls for well over a century from the boy's own stories of the weeklies through to the hardy boys and enid blyton stuff... eg the chips are down and it falls down to the kids to save the day; work things out that the adults in the adult world have not perceived, along with the delights and perhaps trials of growing up and understanding things.

    b) The kids get more focus and the stories are about their dynamic; Columbus achieves these things imo whereas Yates seems tasted with making the next LOTRs CGI, swirling camera rubbish eg Hermione and Ron hardly get any real acting in front of the camera, Ron just does his gruff voice: They can do a lot more than this.

    c) Cuaron is imo the best of the lot: He manages to capture the emotions of the kids in 3 like non-others, perhaps his Hispanic touch is the difference, even the clothes they were seem to have this subtle difference; it again helps this is the best of the books too imo. It also helps that HE manages to create a dark and moody contrast to the golden days of 1&2. Sadly the other movies could not produce their own colors and only ever attempted to ape the dark look and do no more...

    d) Agree, the British cast is simply magnificent and joyful display of acting talent from many wonderful actors!!! It will be missed by me.

    2/ Again looking at the comments here, there is great diversity of opinion. That said I don't agree with a lot of it. My problem with the later Potters is they lose the story of going through a Year of Harry's life and they all clamour all the time during the incessant motion for your instant shock/present alert/important-right-now rollercoaster viewing. Eg Movie 3 had small pauses where the SAME tree shook itself to subtle change the Seasons and the tempo. Whereas in the above clip the swirling camera around the kids drying off was *ridiculous!*, never leaving any time for real emotion except a token sly smile or touching of fingertips before careering off on the next rampage... zzzzzzz. Fortunately the fun plot of the book came through very well at the end, as well as more time for different characters to come on scene eg Neville. Definitely a case for me of a movie series that started v well but the trapping of AAA blockbuster with bolder pretentions in the medium driving out the story and fun with schlick tricks.


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