The trailer for the latest Harry Potter film suggests it will be suitably dark and intense. Is the JK Rowling-inspired series finding its stride as it hits the home straight?

Judging from the rather histrionic tone of the first trailer for the final, two-part instalment of the Harry Potter series, you’d think we were about to witness the second coming of Dumbledore, rather than the finale of an extremely hit and miss series which, for me, has rarely succeeded in capturing the magic of the books. David Yates has done a reasonable, if workmanlike job of the last two Potter films, but the high point was surely Alfonso Cuarón’s stylish Prisoner of Azkaban, and it’s unlikely that anything’s going to change that now that the series is into its final straight.

Nevertheless, Deathly Hallows looks intense and dark in tone, fittingly for a film that takes place after the death of Potter’s mentor, and mostly outside the usual comforting surroundings of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I remember that being the strangest part of reading JK Rowling’s book – like an instalment of EastEnders that doesn’t take place in Albert Square.

It’s the old “jump the shark” rule again, isn’t it? Yet funnily enough, it might just be that Hallows benefits from escaping its usual surroundings in a way in which Fonzie et al famously did not. Part of the problem with the Potter series on film is that it has been too safe, too restricted by the spectacular success of its source material, and too fearful of upsetting the legions of fans by deviating from it. Maybe now that the familiar formula has been dispensed with, Yates can conjure up a brace of films with some genuine identity to them. As it nears its finale, is it time to give the series one more chance? © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds