Many critique it as meandering, but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is my pick for the strongest book in JK Rowling’s series. It’s epic, sweeping, wrought with tension, and wholly satisfying. Was the first film adaptation all of these things? Well, to a certain extent, yes, I think it was. But not everyone will.
The rub with breaking what is one story into two parts, separated by a painstaking six months, is there’s no escaping the feeling that there’s a whole lot missing after the screen goes black. In some sense, this movie ends just when the tension seems about to pick up. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have made amends. They’ve escaped certain peril, they’ve buried a friend, and they’ve found a place to stay until they determine where the next Horcrux might be. And elsewhere, Voldemort is wielding the Elder Wand, the Wand of Destiny, the Deathstick, on the precipice of some real hell-raising.
Judging the film on its own merits, then, is tricky, it being half a story. There’s so much left undone. And even so, it can be judged, and this is how I do so… I loved it, every minute of it. It was just as involving, the characters’ decisions just as aggravating (and alternatively satisfying), the deaths just as heart-wrenching. There were some issues with pacing, sure, and a lack of clarity here and there, but that’s how the Potter films tend to go. And with a (half) story as compelling as this, these minor problems can be ignored.
So here’s a virtual pat on the back for Yates and Kloves, doing it right all over again. It can’t beat Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (what can?), but it’s right up there.