REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

12 07 2011

I was only nine years old when the “Harry Potter” films first cast their spell on me.  While I was old enough to realize that the series was, unfortunately, fictional, I wasn’t blind to the magic of J.K. Rowling’s series.  Only a fool couldn’t see that every aspect around Harry Potter and the universe of wizarding he inhabits doesn’t possess some fantastic sorcery.  How else can you explain the millions of children (and adults alike) who have rediscovered the power of reading thanks to the books?  How else can you explain the millions who come out in droves at midnight … to celebrate the release of a novel?

It’s only appropriate that the final film adaptation, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” should capture that magic with such perfect grace, making us at once entranced by the action on the screen, heartbroken that we no longer have another movie to look forward to in the series, and filled with joy that the series has, for the past 10 years, taught us all to believe in the magic of cinema.  The “Harry Potter” series has been such an integral part of my childhood and adolescence, and as it concludes as I head off for college, I can’t be more thankful to have such a fantastic film mark the end of a big chapter of my life.  I’m so grateful that my generation, along with countless other fans, has rallied eight times to celebrate the power that writing and filmmaking can possess when done so incredibly right.

Director David Yates, with the benefit of knowing that he is directing the absolutely final “Harry Potter” film, does his best work yet on the series, keeping a pitch-perfect tone throughout while also maintaining a steady and appropriate pace through the closing pages of a work that millions hold dear.  Thanks also in part to screenwriter Steve Kloves, he treats the end with the reverence it is due while also adapting in slight ways to make the last installment as epic and cinematic as possible.  The series truly does go out with a bang, but unlike a “Transformers” or another action movie, it doesn’t go out with nothing but bangs.  The Battle of Hogwarts, which fans have been highly anticipating ever since they read it back in 2007, plays out with excitement and dazzling visuals but never distracts from the true story at hand.

The plot, which leads us to the final battle between good (Daniel Radcliffe’s noble hothead Harry Potter) and evil (Ralph Fiennes’ slot-nosed Lord Voldemort) that the films have spent a decade building towards, brings us a satisfying sense of closure not just with the titular character but with all the teenaged heroes and heroines of Rowling’s books.  We finally get to see the romantic tensions between Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) explode into a giant kiss.  We witness Neville Longbottom rising to become the hero no one thought he could be.  Not to mention that we also get to see our favorite Hogwarts professors again, from jolly giant Hagrid to loopy Trelawney to wise McGonagall … to unsung hero Snape.

Although this is the last of the “Harry Potter” movies, Yates doesn’t resort to elegiac or epitaphic ploys for cheap emotion, nor does he fall back on impressive visuals to carry the movie.  As it should be, the movie soars thanks to solid, clean storytelling which makes everything else fall beautifully into place.  All emotion and rapture arise for Rowling’s story, which captivates as much on screen as it does on the page.  Ultimately, what part 2 of “Deathly Hallows” feels like is a celebration of the journey of imagination that Rowling, Yates, and plenty of other talented filmmakers and actors have taken audiences on for 10 years now.

To close, I’ll use some of Rowling’s words since it’s her we are really celebrating here.  Harry, in disbelief, asks the sage Albus Dumbledore, “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”  Dumbledore then turns around, and says these profound words: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”  When delivered by Michael Gambon on screen, they might as well have been spoken to the entire audience too.  Yes, the “Harry Potter” series is just words on a page and actors on a screen – in essence, in our heads.

But the magic of “Harry Potter” is very real!  It is magical to see people dress up as a literary character.  It is magical to see people come together and cheer, laugh, and maybe even cry together.  It is magical for people to find once again that reading and moviegoing can be communal experiences, moments of bliss that can seldom be found from any other works in the respective mediums.  Thankfully, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” realizes all of this and takes many opportunities to remind us that the magic does not die with this movie.  It will stay alive as long as we carry with us the memory that, however rare it comes along, we can feel magic emanating from a book or from a movie screen.  A / 


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4 responses

12 07 2011
Fitz

It’s amazing that they managed to close out this series on such a high note. They kind of meddled around films 4 & 5, but thankfully they recovered.

12 07 2011
Marshall

I think 5 was the low point, they slowly got better until this one may have topped them all. Although from a critical perspective, Cuarón’s “Prisoner of Azkaban” was still the best in my book.

12 07 2011
Steven Flores

You were nine when the first film was out? Damn! I thought you were much older than that. I was 20 when the first film came out in theaters but didn’t see it until it was on TV.

21 07 2011
Whiffer

*sighs*

Well, there’s always Batman.

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