Friday, July 15, 2011

'Deathly Hallows-Part 2' is grandest of film finales

By Steve Crum

All is said and done, and Harry Potter’s 10 year movie quest has ended. Closure? Superb closure! As I have repeated in each of my Harry Potter movie reviews over the decade, I have not read any of the Potter books, yet I have become a fan of the movies. That said for the final time, my fondness for this franchise has only increased after seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. Surprisingly, there is now high desire to watch the previous seven films over again for both enjoyment and juxtaposition. You see, I still have problems with all the names, wizardly and otherwise. Re-watching would help. That would mean seeing DH2 again at the theatre, and that suits me fine. (See it in 3-D, if possible.)

Where the death of the lovable house elf Dobby was arguably the biggest shocker of DH1, DH2’s conclusion provides multiple surprises and revelations. I cannot understate the heroics to be found throughout DH2, and not perpetrated by just Harry and his two cohorts. Valdemort villains by the dozen are zap-wanded and obliterated by Potter’s old guard friends and colleagues. Of course, evil does overpower the good guys as well in a few instances. (I am trying not to spoil things by being too specific.)

DH2 opens essentially where DH1 ended, with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) squaring off against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). There is a lull, since Harry and friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are ill prepared for all out battle since they have yet to find--and destroy--the remaining Horcruxes. Four sinister items remain, and each is embedded with portions of Voldemort’s soul. Voldemort requires each and every item to insure his immortality. As long as one item survives, the dark lord cannot be defeated.

Essentially, that is half of DH2's story. The race is on to sneak into guarded places to find and destroy, while Voldemort tries to obstruct such. In no episode of the Potter saga is it clearer that Harry has matured to manhood, with the single-minded drive to kill Voldemort, even if he himself has to die in the process. There is a particularly nail-biting sequence in which Harry, Rupert and Hermione (in disguise) sneak into the Gringotts Bank, assisted by the goblin Griphook, who has agreed to help if he can have the magical sword of Gryffindor as payment.

Incidentally, the very opening of DH2 is quiet, sans music, and with sparse, softly spoken dialogue. It is wise convention that director David Yates uses to advantage, since hellfire action kicks in not long after. The jolting effect works, appreciably so.

Memorable scenes feature a dragon, snake, fire, water, and golden goblets. There is also a portion toward the end involving a white world of limbo--or is it? Think 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Nostalgia is everywhere in this final Potter telling. Characters from much earlier films in the series reappear, and often interact with major consequences. Maggie Smith’s Minerva McGonagall finally takes charge, as does Mrs. Weasley (Julie Walters). Expect Bellatrix Lestrange (Helene Bonham Carter), Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Prof. Trelawney (Emma Thompson), Prof. Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), Prof. Sprout (Miriam Margolyes), and a slew of others. Major surprises ensue with Prof. Snape (Alan Rickman) and the Dumbledores, brothers Aberforth (Ciaran Hinds) and Albus (Michael Gambon). Let’s not overlook the element of romance in DH2, and that refers to the return of Harry’s love interest, Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Ron’s sister.

Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling said early on that she “had a very, very clear idea of where Harry was going to go.” Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have lovingly transported her vision to the most satisfying finale, truly grand, in film history.

Think of it. Rowling’s genius, via books and films, have not only entertained us with some of the most popular fantasy adventures in media history, but created a unique lexicon in the process: Dobby, Hagrid, Hogwarts, dementors, Voldemort, Quidditch, and on and on. Paramount above all it is the unforgettable Harry Potter himself--all in the span of 14 years, since the first book debuted.

I will especially miss Rickman’s darkly garbed Prof. Severus Snape, and his meticulously timed delivery of lines. Classic.
GRADE: On an A to F Scale: A
Let's visit HP and the gang again via the trailer:

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