Rating: 4 out of 5
The eight-part saga comes to a close with an action-packed finale that neatly ties up the strands of the whole series and also manages to give its actors some meaty scenes to play with. While it's hugely satisfying, there's also a letdown as we reach the end.
With Voldemort (Fiennes) in possession of the mythical Elder Wand, and four Horcruxes still at large, Harry (Radcliffe) and pals Hermione and Ron (Watson and Grint) know that they have work to do. Breaking into a Gringotts vault is tough enough, but when they sneak back into Hogwarts, they find themselves in all-out war against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. So with the help of adults (Smith, Walters and more) and fellow students (including Lewis, Wright and Lynch), they make their final stand.
After a sort of "Previously on Harry Potter" prologue and a quietly intense opening, the film plunges into the Gringotts heist and barely pauses for breath. Director Yates adeptly juggles action and drama, keeping images razor sharp and making sure the effects work is seamlessly eye-catching (they're also the most consistently high-quality effects in the series). But of course Lord of the Rings-scale spectacle is nothing without great characters, and this film pushes everyone into new territory.
Radcliffe takes on the challenge extremely well, bringing Harry's self-doubt and crippling guilt together with a potent sense of destiny and sacrifice. Of the supporting cast, Rickman, Smith and Gambon get the weightiest scenes, while Lewis and Walters finally have superb moments in the spotlight. And Bonham Carter clearly has a ball with a terrific scene as a shape-shifted Hermione.
Meanwhile, that outrageously starry ensemble fills out each scene, including many who barely utter a word.
As the story propels to the climactic moments, there are a few fits and starts while events recoil and wait to burst forth again. Even though this is the shortest of all eight movies, it feels a little long due to its intensely focussed plot. This means every moment on screen is vitally important, and most are given the chance to play out without feeling rushed. But it also means that, as the ending (and epilogue) get closer, we simply don't want it to end.
Facts and Figures
Run time: 130 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th July 2011
Box Office USA: $381.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $1.3B
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Moving Picture Company (MPC), Warner Bros., Heyday Films
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 292 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 8.1 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney, Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid, Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, Gemma Jones as Poppy Pomfrey, Clémence Poésy as Fleur Delacour, Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick / Griphook, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Domhnall Gleeson as Bill Weasley, James Phelps as Fred Weasley, Oliver Phelps as George Weasley, Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, Mark Williams as Arthur Weasley, Pauline Stone as Nurse Wainscott, Suzie Toase as Alecto Carrow, Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks, George Harris as Kingsley Shacklebolt, Ciarán Hinds as Aberforth Dumbledore, Julie Walters as Molly Weasley, David Ryall as Elphias Doge, Arben Bajraktaraj as Antonin Dolohov, Peter Mullan as Yaxley, David Bradley as Argus Filch, Miriam Margolyes as Pomona Sprout, Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew, Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Ralph Ineson as Amycus Carrow, Helen McCrory as Narcissa Malfoy, Chris Rankin as Percy Weasley, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Rod Hunt as Thorfinn Rowle, Dave Legeno as Fenrir Greyback, Nick Moran as Scabior, Guy Henry as Pius Thicknesse, Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley, Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, Anna Shaffer as Romilda Vane, Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, Devon Murray as Seamus Finnigan, Alfie Enoch as Dean Thomas, Jessie Cave as Lavender Brown, Shefali Chowdhury as Parvati Patil, Afshan Azad as Padma Patil, Louis Cordice as Blaise Zabini, Josh Herdman as Gregory Goyle, Scarlett Byrne as Pansy Parkinson, Isabella Laughland as Leanne, Jamie Marks as Ernie Macmillan, Katie Leung as Cho Chang, Georgina Leonidas as Katie Bell, Freddie Stroma as Cormac McLaggen, John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander, Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw, Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, Adrian Rawlins as James Potter, Geraldine Somerville as Lily Potter, Anthony Allgood as Gringotts Guard, Rusty Goffe as Aged Gringotts Goblin, Benn Northover as Hogsmeade Death Eater, Ian Peck as Hogsmeade Death Eater, Hebe Beardsall as Ariana Dumbledore, William Melling as Nigel, Sian Grace Phillips as Screaming Girl, Suzanne Toase as Alecto Carrow, Amber Evans as Twin Girl 1, Ruby Evans as Twin Girl 2, Jon Key as Bogrod, Philip Wright as Giant, Gary Sayer as Giant, Tony Adkins as Giant, Penelope McGhie as Death Eater, Ellie Darcey-Alden as Young Lily Potter, Ariella Paradise as Young Petunia Dursley, Benedict Clarke as Young Severus Snape, Alfie McIlwain as Young James Potter, Rohan Gotobed as Young Sirius Black, Toby Papworth as Baby Harry Potter, Peter G. Reed as Death Eater, Judith Sharp as Death Eater, Emil Hostina as Death Eater, Bob Yves Van Hellenberg Hubar as Death Eater, Granville Saxton as Death Eater, Tony Kirwood as Death Eater, Ashley McGuire as Death Eater, Arthur Bowen as Albus Severus Potter (19 Years Later), Daphne de Beistegui as Lily Luna Potter (19 Years Later), Will Dunn as James Sirius Potter (19 Years Later), Jade Gordon as Astoria Malfoy (19 Years Later), Bertie Gilbert as Scorpius Malfoy (19 Years Later), Helena Barlow as Rose Weasley (19 Years Later), Ryan Turner as Hugo Weasley (19 Years Later), Jamie Campbell Bower as Gellert Grindelwald, Luke Newberry as Teddy Lupin, Sean Biggerstaff as Oliver Wood, Leslie Phillips as The Sorting Hat, Graham Duff as Death Eater