The story takes off immediately from Part 1, which was nice; there was no “Previously on Harry Potter”. Though I am glad that I had recently watched part 1. The action is then fairly constant throughout the film; but not so much that the cast don’t get the opportunity to shine. It was great that Ralph Fiennes finally got to act! He has mostly been in the background in the previous films, but here he is really able to get his Voldemort on! He manages to be angry, intimidating, yet scared and uncertain. Alan Rickman is of course superb as always; though I did feel that the reveal of Snape’s history was slightly rushed, which lessened the impact that it should have had. Jason Isaccs is brilliant once again as the terrified, sycophantic Lucius Malfoy, and I have already mentioned that Daniel, Rupert and Emma are now all great actors.
The Deathly Hallows themselves were barely mentioned in Part 2, and the whole Horcruxes/Hallows debate was completely missing which I felt was a major part of the book. It was never explained that by the end, Harry had both destroyed all the horcruxes AND had all three hallows. Not that any of this really mattered for an action-packed finale, it just slightly lessened the emotional impact. Speaking of emotional impact, suddenly seeing Tonks, Remus, and Fred/George (delete as appropriate, I can’t remember) on the floor of the great hall was all a bit “Oh, right. They’re dead then.” Whereas concentrating on the characters a bit more would have upped the emotional content when we then actually saw them die; and it is the empathy that we have with these characters that binds us to the film. Just think of some recent films without emotional content to get the idea (Sucker Punch, Transformers...).
These are only minor niggles, and overall I thought the film was great. For those viewers who hadn’t read the books or seen all of the previous films, there were probably plenty of moments that wouldn’t have made sense or simply gone straight over their heads. This may have diminished their enjoyment a bit; but for someone who has seen all of the films and read all the books (though not recently enough to pick lots of holes in the film) I really enjoyed it.