"Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2" – and So It Ends..
Reviewing the very last Harry Potter movie which brings the decade long franchise to a spectacular close. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint return for one last round as does director David Yates.
Did those ten years go by in a flash or what? With “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” we have reached the end of the boy with the lightning scar’s journey which culminates in his long awaited battle with Lord Voldemort. “Part 1” was slower, more drawn out and didn’t have as much action, but this was the case with the book so that had to be expected. But with “Part 2,” we get an all out action packed epic combining unforgettable characters with great special effects. We walk out of it somewhat exhausted but very much satisfied with its powerful conclusion, and we’re relieved it didn’t end the same way as “The Matrix Revolutions” did.
Unlike the other summer blockbusters of 2011 which value special effects over character, “Part 2″ does the reverse; the key to this franchise is how emotionally invested we get in these characters. The more you realize that, the less it matters how noticeably good the visual effects are (BTW, they are excellent). This in part should explain why all those Harry Potter wannabes like “Percy Jackson” or “Eragon” never made much of a dent in our collective consciousness when they were brought to the silver screen.
My hat goes off to every single actor in this movie as everyone gives their all to this thunderous climax. Daniel Radcliffe in particular deserves much credit and proves that his casting as the famous wizard boy truly was a stroke of genius. He imbues every scene as Harry with tremendous heart and soul, and Radcliffe makes this iconic character all the more human instead of some generic hero. Seeing him grow up from the first film to the last is a joy as we watched his talent grow along with him.
Ditto as well for Rupert Grint and Emma Watson who finally get to do you know what in this movie. In a lot of ways they have the harder job here; playing characters forced to hold their on against the famous Harry Potter. If they seemed a bit one dimensional in the first movie, that certainly changed with each successive sequel. Rupert has grown so much to where his squeamish behavior has given way to a well earned heroism which was shown to great effect in “Part 1.”
Emma Watson has also given Hermione Granger more depth and complexity throughout the series, showing vulnerability and a longing which finally comes clean after she and Ron destroy one of the Horcruxes. She’s always made us care about Hermione even as her know it all attitude threatens to alienate those closest to her. This is not to mention that she has grown lovelier over the years as well.
Actually, one actor who almost steals the show here is Matthew Lewis who returns as Neville Longbottom. The character started out as a bumbling and disorganized student far more comfortable with Herbology than anything else. Matthew brought this character to life in wonderful fashion, and then he burned the character into our memories in “Order of the Phoenix” as we came to learn more about Longbottom. With “Part 2,” Matthew (much like Rupert) has earned his heroic status as he keeps up the fight against he who shall not be named.
But of all the performance in “Part 2,” my favorite by far was Alan Rickman’s who you come out believing was the only actor on earth capable of inhabiting the character of Severus Snape. We learn even more things about Snape this, and it will forever change to way you perceive the character. Alan deserves to be seen as one of England’s finest actors both on stage and in film, and his work in these films is further proof that there’s more to him than Hans Gruber in “Die Hard.”
“Part 2″ brings back many actors from the previous films such as David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, Emma Thompson as Sybil Trelawny, and Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood among others. I dare you to find a single weak performance from this entire cast as they inhabit their characters and give a full life to J.K. Rowling’s vivid (not to mention highly profitable) imagination. Now keep in mind, I said weak and not bad. We should all know by now that there are no bad performances to be found in the “Harry Potter” movies!
Of course, there’s no forgetting Ralph Fiennes who breathes life into the infinitely evil Lord Voldemort in a way others could not. While Voldemort’s first appearance in ‘The Goblet of Fire” felt like a let down, Fiennes made up for that with his vocal command and subtle movements which showed he never had to move much to instill fear at the mere mention of his name. How many other actors could deliver the line “Harry Potter is dead” with such nasty relish and fearsome satisfaction?
Now while I’m kind of bummed Nicholas Hooper didn’t come back to score the “Deathly Hallows,” I can’t complain with Alexandre Desplat’s work as he is now one of the premiere composers in movies today. Along with his brilliant work on “The Tree of Life,” this tops off what has been a great year for him so far. Desplat manages to weave the themes John Williams created all those years ago to where you cannot tell their work apart from one another, and he adds immeasurably to the story’s sheer emotional power.
But much of the credit should go to director David Yates who (along with Alfonso Cuaron) was one of the best things to happen to the “Harry Potter” movie franchise. Yates does excellent work in balancing out the characters with the destruction surrounding them, and he lets the actors move the film forward as opposed to the visual effects doing it for them. Yates digs deep into these characters’ lives which we have followed almost religiously for quite some time, and he never ever renders them as superheroes but as regular human beings caught up in a fight others cannot easily comprehend. It’s his attention to character which makes “Part 2″ all the more enthralling.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ could have easily been anticlimactic as the book it was based on came out a few years ago, and we already know of Mr. Potter’s fate before this movie’s release. With the last of these movies, Harry has indeed earned our goodbyes for a second time. “Part 2″ is an adventure filled with emotion that has us enthralled all the way to the very end. Even if we know the outcome, we’re still caught up with what’s going on.
All in all, it’s been a remarkable journey watching these kids grow up in a place of wonder which later gave way to a stark darkness that threatened to destroy them all. Some will say the “Harry Potter” movies got too dark, but that’s because they never bothered reading the books. It also shows that we all have a dark side within us. It is not something to be ashamed of as it is something we must overcome. Knowing this is a necessary part of growing up. Thank you J.K. Rowling for that!
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