Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (UK/ USA, 2011)
Directed by David Yates
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter
The final instalment in a film franchise often comes to define the franchise as a whole. The Return of the King cemented Peter Jackson's reputation as an extraordinary fantasy filmmaker who moved the goalposts for both cinematic technology and fantasy storytelling. Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness and Spider-Man 3 both saw the wheels come off, with Sam Raimi throwing everything he had at the screen to disguise the fact that he had run out of ideas.
Star Wars prequels. But while Jackson's battles had pacing and structure, with clearly defined yet unpredictable movements, the Battle for Hogwarts moves in fits and starts and isn't all that memorable. Yates tries to include as many of the little moments from the books as he can, but he struggles to link them all together. If the Battle of the Pellanor Fields is like a Wagner opera - big, bold, brash and often breathtaking - this is more like a high school violin recital: still impressive in places, but timid by comparison.
2001: A Space Odyssey, using white light in a way that is intrusive but also comforting in the context of the action that surrounds it. The whole colour palette is more washed out, with the blues and blacks of the Hogwarts uniforms appearing dusty and battered even before the battle has started. This at least gives a semblance of tonal consistency, linking the battles and quiet moments together quite well.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
Goblet of Fire, and a little less threatening in places. The subtext is there if you look for it, but Yates is often too absorbed in trying to make wands a threatening weapon to bring it out in the build-up. And while it is better directed than George Lucas' lightsabre battles, it's ultimately too static and straightforward, giving the impression that it goes on longer than it does.
The Empire Strikes Back, but even a little something would have been nice.
NEXT REVIEW: Cradle 2 The Grave (2003)