Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

And so we come to the end of the most successful book and film franchise history has ever known, with the surprisingly short Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (well, at two hours, it's comparatively short for a Potter movie).

Picking up right where Part 1 left off - so quickly that I had actually forgotten several key events from Part 1 - the film starts quietly, the calm before the storm. Soon enough, however, it dives into the storyline, which has Harry and his friends desperately trying to deduce, locate, and destroy the remaining horcruxes that contain parts of the villainous Lord Voldemort's soul.

Knowing full well that this is the grand finale, Yates and company pack just about every Harry Potter character into the proceedings, even if it means you only see Emma Thompson for about five seconds and Hagrid just gets a couple of lines. Here I am reminded of the fundamental problem I've had with David Yates as a director: I understand the producers' decision to hire a journeyman like Yates to handle the last four films. He wasn't already so famous, expensive, or in-demand that he couldn't be counted on to stick around and provide a consistency to the franchise. But there's a reason why the third and fourth Potter films work so much better and linger in the mind so much longer - it's because they were made by true film artists. Alfonso Cuaron's subversiveness and impressive visual style are what made Prisoner of Azkaban - which otherwise could have been the breeziest, most forgettable Potter - so special. And Mike Newell, long considered an actor's director, plumbed emotional depths in Goblet of Fire that Yates, even after four movies, has proven unable to match.

Of course I still enjoyed Deathly Hallows 2; it is, as always, a handsome production, with top-notch talent in front of and behind the camera. But now that the saga of Harry Potter is over, I'm going to express my mild but earnest regret over the selection of David Yates. He is a competent filmmaker, but his biggest mistake was assuming that audiences could easily follow the emotional and story flow from film to film, even after waiting a year or two. Focused as he was on delivering story points, he never understood the importance of taking some time in each movie to let us fall in love with the characters again - the supporting characters in particular. Because if we don't remember why we love them, then why should we care what happens to them?