All is not well in the world of wizards. That Voldemort (Fiennes), the death-cheating, serpentine bane of all wand-bearers, is back is now an undisputed fact and the time where his followers stood by tacitly abiding by the laws of wizardkind is long gone.
The moving paintings and ghost that haunt the once cheery halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry now know of fascist methods of indoctrination imposed upon the minds of the students and brutality that is enforced by the administration now headed by Severus Snape (Rickman). But a bunch of Potter loyalists, led by the bumbling Neville Longbottom, put up a brave front against the said tyranny.
Carrying on from where the last one left off, with Harry — chief target of Voldemort and the dark magic-tainted ministry of magic — and his loyal friends Ron and Hermione make a break from Malfoy Manor (thanks to the valiant efforts of House elf Dobby) to wind up at the doorstep of Ron’s brother Bill Weasley. With them are the shrewd banker goblin Griphook, master wand-maker Ollivander and the mystical sword of Godric Gryffindor.
After putting aside their misgivings about each other, the trio resumes its horcrux hunt. But Voldemort now possesses the elder wand, an instrument of magic that renders him unstoppable, and is primed for an attack on Harry’s (and his own — very alike, those two) only true childhood home — Hogwarts.
With the race for horcruxes considerably less nerve-wracking and frantic than in the book, the film trims down on some of the suspense Rowling sowed in her book (the mission to Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at the cavernous marbled-halled Gringotts Wizarding Bank, for example) in favour of sweeping action sequences like the siege of Hogwarts, where the wand-toting young ‘uns (and the plucky staff) must put up a daring last stand against hordes of death-eaters (Voldemort’s cabal of ‘pure-blooded wizards and witches’), primitive giants, hoary spiders and what not that are summoned from the forbidden forest on the edge of the castle’s grounds.
But Deathly Hallows Part 2 isn’t all about the action. Most of the emotional intelligence and thematic ingenuity of the text has been translated well enough onto celluloid with knowledge that a para-for-para adaptation would be impossible.
For example, the film adeptly puts across the book’s theme about fear – a universal emotion felt but never succumbed to by Potter and his lot — and its sway over the human soul. Voldemort, himself afraid of dying, manipulates his minions, most of whom regard themselves as the noblest and purest of blood among their stock, into performing heinous acts by inspiring fear and reducing them to snivelling cowards.
One important element of the story — Hogwart’s sainted principal Albus Dumbledore’s apparent lack of trust and manifold secrets, a cause of anguish in Potter — that provided insights to the man’s antecedents and follies of youth is only hinted at but never touched upon. Snape’s hidden relationship to Dumbledore and Potter (yes, you can heave a sigh of relief) thankfully is.
The visuals and the score, comprising rich foreboding and elegiac tones, and solid, mature acting from the cast (how could you go wrong with such an ensemble?) does wonders for the film.
Deathly Hallows Part 2, for a concluding chapter in a saga of mystery solving, curse dodging, Polyjuice potion-induced transformations ends on a touching (which could be corny to some) note in the absence of the never-ending goodbyes scene (Return of the King, I’m looking at you).
Allow this reviewer to reiterate his stand on the Potter adaptations: Mere visual accompaniments to the books. This one manages to be slightly more than that.