I imagine that writing a review of the latest Harry Potter is in the technical sense akin to intellectual masturbation – I’m probably the only one getting any gratification from it. This is probably why reviewing it is wrought with so much difficulty, approaching it without taking note of its zeitgeist aspects is impractical. I’d wager that any critic – pseudo or otherwise – went into the film suspecting what they were going to think of it, what grade they’d give it. After seven films there isn’t much that can drastically change about the series, the things that you loved have endured into the aspects you look for and the things that annoy you’ve learned to contend with – and ignore, if possible.
The marked difference between this instalment and its previous encounters is the time it covers. Save for a few minutes of what functions as a prologue, and a scene of memories the film covers a few hours which makes the film seem as if it’s hurtling towards its close and it turns into more of an exercise in all things visuals than anything significant story wise. Essentially, a final two Horcruxes must be found which requires breaking into the Gringotts vault and then Hogwarts. With the particulars of the story stripped to the bare essentials the visuals aspects become principal – a sort of the medium becoming the message sort of occurrence; and it looks fabulous. It’s a battle for the ages and the film looks better than any of the previous instalments.
I always wished that the Harry Potter films had stuck to a single director over the tenure of the entire series. This sort of fantastical fare is the type that places greater emphasis on style than substance and if one were to talk into account the hours devoted to these characters prior to this one, the film surprisingly lacks that emotional profundity that you’d hope for in a final instalment. It’s probably unfair to expect Yates to manage that when previous directors have brought their own flair to project, and it’s doubly unfair because this instalment is a film in itself and not just a glorified epilogue – which, in my defence, it seemed to be at times.