Top critical review
performs its final spell
on January 2, 2012
It was pretty good, I guess. It was very nice to look at. It wasn't stupid (like #1 and #4). It didn't drop the ball, but it was just perfunctory (perhaps finales are just hard to do, carrying all that weight of expectation). Save for one really nice scene that explains Snape's role in the whole thing (actually, partially explains'it left with me with a few questions that sent me to Wikipedia to sort out), it really just carried out its function of being the final battle between Voldemort and Harry. The real problem, I think, with the series is that, as weak a hero as Potter is (he's really quite bland, and we never really get the sense that he's growing in power, like, say Luke Skywalker), the villain, Voldemort, is weaker. He's just not very interesting, and other than being powerful, I never got a sense why anyone chose to follow him. There's an especial contrast with the few flashbacks we get of the young V, Tom Riddle, when he's handsome, seductive, and slickly evil. But as a reincarnated whatever, he just seems to scream a lot.
All that aside, what the series really 'suffers' from is one excellent entry ' the sixth film, 'Half-Blood Prince' (I really feel 'Prisoner of Azkaban' is a standout as well, as a wonderful film to look at'but it has too many plot/story problems to be truly great). The sixth film is a truly wonderful bit of filmmaking. Ultimately, the final 2 installments look almost as nice (Yates is a pretty good director, when it comes to visuals), but they don't hold up storywise. Perhaps that's Rowling's fault (or are these holes filled in the books?) Ultimately, the films should stand on their own.
Ultimately, the series works for me, but perhaps more in the way that James Bond does. There are very few very good James Bond films. Yet, I am kind of a sucker for them all. There's something I like about the Potter franchise too, despite some lack of execution. And I do find them entertaining. Now that I have them all, I have it in mind to watch the final 4 films in quick succession ' those are all helmed by Yates and contain the (hor)crux of the overall saga.