Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
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Coming to the close of a magical eight film journey that not only told the story of Harry Potter and company, but chronicled the coming of age of its young stars, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 shuts the book with a satisfactory bang. In line with the natural progression of the series, Part 2 is the darkest, most intense of the bunch, but how could it not be? It is the climax of a two part film, of a 7 story series. The ultimate showdown of wizarding good and evil is upon us, and with a Lord of the Rings styled battle as the centerpiece, gruesome violence is used sparingly, but effectively.
Picking up where last year's Part 1 left off, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) continue their quest to destroy the remaining horcruxes that harbor pieces of Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) soul. Once all of these objects are destroyed, Voldemort himself can finally be offed. They start by impersonating Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) to rob her bank secured storage unit, which is enchantment protected, and guarded by a fire breathing dragon. Next, the team return to the Headmaster Snape (Alan Rickman) run Hogwart's to track down an unidentified horcrux. After confronting him about Dumbledore's death, Harry and the newly invigorated Hogwart's staff run Snape out to join his evil master's ranks as Voldemort and his army of death eaters start to encroach on the castle. After some magical delays, the inevitable epic battle begins. By going any further would be spilling the beans, and that would be ruining the best part of the film.
It's clear that the film makers tried their best to fit as much detail from the book into the film as possible, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. By doing this, many scenes feel rushed, or just flat out don't make sense in the natural flow of the film. Even after spanning the story over two films, I feel like each could have been much longer. The two hours and fifteen minutes goes by in quite a hurry. Despite the odd lack of mini explanations it could have used, the film is highly entertaining. The emotional weight that has built up over the course of the series is massive, and following the somewhat confusing final battle, fans will surely be hard pressed not to get a little weepy at the thought of it being over. We've come to know these characters in fine detail thanks to an outstanding young cast that grew into their parts, and the aged supporting veterans that imbued their wizarding knowledge on our lovable leads. Fiennes is absolutely amazing as the quietly intense, evil lord, simultaneously hissing jokes while scaring the living hell out of everyone around him. After completing the series, I can't imagine any of the characters being played by anyone else.
Often jaw droppingly gorgeous, the film is stuffed with eye popping CGI goodness, that for the most part, manages to shy away from looking too processed. The opening scene of the fog covered school being surrounded by ominous and ragged looking dementors is breathtaking. As the final battle commenced, and the castle walls started crumbling, “Wow,” was the word that came to mind. Without spoiling anything, I will say that despite the fact that incredible visuals fill nearly every frame of the film, they play second fiddle to the character development, and editing that makes up the sequence just before the showdown. Though not as visually well done as the tale of the Deathly Hallows from Part 1, this sequence packs an emotional punch unmatched in the series, followed by an action packed uppercut, and a gut wrenching knockout finish. Sadly, the unnecessary last five minutes completely botch the tone so beautifully sustained throughout the course of the rest of the adventure.
Though, story-wise, not as well crafted as the previous film, Part 2 is a super natural blast, full of outstanding magical action, and an emotionally racked cast that brings their best to the final show. Without time to properly wrap up some major characters, I felt like a few were swept under the rug in hopes that no one would notice thanks to the distracting colorful fireworks. Harry and the gang, on the other hand, find their fitting fate after seven memorable years of inspiring kids and adults alike to both read, and watch with honor, and compassion in their hearts.
--Jordan M. Smith
Release Date: July 15, 2011