July 17, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Well, it is finally over. The franchise has finally reached its end. With eight movies and ten years down it has come time to lay Harry Potter to rest. This is it, end of line, ladies and gentlemen this is our last stop, please be sure to take all of your belongings with you as I will not be held accountable for any lost or stolen items. It may be hard for many of you Potterheads to accept, but this is it. Of course, some years from now they may decide to reboot the franchise and start over with an American cast. Could you believe that? Seriously, I don't think it is outside the realm of possibility. In any case, it is all over, savor it while you can. Fortunately, the movie is entertaining and a fitting end to the long running series.

I am not a die hard fan or follower of Potter, I have never read the books (and don't really intend to), but I have seen all the films and while I do not like all of them, they are generally entertaining and have a certain ambitious charm about them. It is amazing they were able to pull off such a long running series with the same central actors. They were cast age appropriate and we were graced with watching them grow up on the screen, developing characters that changed and matured as the series went on.

It is pretty interesting to reflect on what was accomplished here. Each book represented another year at the school, in turn each film came out in roughly the same time frame (slightly elongated in a few cases), so the cast aged as they should in relation to the stories. Again, not being a die hard fan, I can certainly respect the ambitiousness (even if unintended) of the series. It has been fun watching the story grow and develop.

Where the series began with a wide-eyed childlike innocence as we learned who Harry was and the hints at what his future would hold. We would then follow the tyke as he grew into a teenager, dealing with typical teen angsty stuff amidst a unique collection of classes, all while a greater evil grew around outside, sniffing at the edges and ready to attack.

With Deathly Hallows Part 2 we have reached the point of no return. The big finish where the innocence of youth is gone, the angst has died down, and all has been replaced with a dark foreboding tension as Harry's fate is catching up with him and the final showdown with the evil Voldemorte is right around the corner. This movie is quite a bit removed from that initial offering and the ride has been one worth taking.

This final entry is definitely a step up from Part 1, it is like they were saving everything up for this one. This is likely the most action oriented one of the run, and it is quite explosive at that. It picks up right where we left off, Dobby has just been buried and Voldemorte has located the most powerful of magic wands and is prepared to take down Harry and all of Hogwarts if he has to.

I am loathe of giving anything away, but we do get to see that final showdown that has Voldemorte's forces facing off with Harry's friends and teachers in a battle to the death. The school is pretty much laid to waste and secrets are revealed en route to the finish.

The movie lets it all hang out on the screen, it looks expensive and it pays off. The colors are washed out and grim, shadows envelope almost everything. This is not a movie that is all kittens and rainbows, this is a movie where lives hang in the balance. Everything is dealt with in due seriousness, sure there are moments of levity to cut the tension, but that is the exception, not the rule.

Now, while I did enjoy it, it is not perfect. First off, don't even bother seeing this if you haven't been watching the series, and if you have been watching, make sure you've seen part one, lest you want to be left in the dark. Then there is the fact that this is not so much a movie so much as it is a two-hour climax. Again, not like the end of a series, but an elongated end of a movie, not an entire movie in itself.

I really think they could have had the same effect if Deathly Hallows had been a single movie. Some things in this could have been cut down some, and that last movie had its share of filler type material, or at least extended scenes that could have been a lot shorter. Yes, it would have been a long movie, but I have come to expect that from this franchise.

That said, the stakes were suitably high, and the grand collective of British actors is always a sight to see. To top it off, Alan Rickman turns in some of the finest the series has seen. There is one particular sequence that could possibly be the most powerful of the entire series.

You could call it the end of an era, but I think that may be a bit too big. It is the end of a very successful series of movies and they are going out on top. This final entry may be flawed and not feel like a complete movie, but it is certainly an entertaining movie that is worth seeing on the big screen. Although, I could have done without the coda, the scene immediately prior to it would have made for a great final image.


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