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And so we’ve now come to the end of a decade-long magical journey that may constitute the most ambitious feat of both literary and cinematic story-telling in memory, with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Literarily, it all springs from the imagination of J.K. Rowling, who took what started as a children’s story and created a multi-volume tale for young and old, about the intertwined nature of good and evil, the perils and pleasures of growing up, the pressures of responsibility and power – and the fun of magical imagination.
Cinematically, it’s been all over the map – from the candied excesses of the first films of Chris Columbus to the darker, more nuanced vision of filmmakers like Alfonso Cuaron and Mike Newell and, finally, the steady hand of David Yates, who directed the final four of the eight Harry Potter films.
This final entry is, in fact, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 of a dual-film approach to Rowling’s final volume, a massive door-stopper of a book. It would have been interesting to see the two films combined into one three-and-a-half or four-hour film, a la the “Lord of the Rings” movies.
After all, fans of the work will sit through as much of this as they’re given. And, to everyone else, it wouldn’t matter; if you haven’t already absorbed at least a few of the films or books by this point, you’re not going to jump aboard what amounts to a fast-moving train. Releasing it as one film might have curbed some of the problems of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, which had a slack section in the middle that matched the slack section in the book.
Still, I have to admit that my opinion of “Part 1” changed upon re-viewing. As research before seeing the final film, I watched “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (the sixth in the series) and “Deathly Hallows Part 1,” back to back the night before the “Part 2” screening. I found that “Half-Blood Prince” was the entry that seemed slower, because of the obligatory teen-romance material – while “Hallows” felt more solid, more of a piece, dealing with the bigger issues and ignoring the teeny-bop stuff.
Which leads right into Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 a dazzler of a finale. Here is the movie that answers all the questions, including the connection between Harry and Voldemort and the one between Harry and Snape.
Synopsis seems beside the point at this stage, but here goes: Voldemort (a bald and noseless Ralph Fiennes) has returned and is leading a takeover of the wizarding world with his dark magic. Harry is the only one who can stop him – by finding and destroying the collection of horcruxes that Voldemort has scattered around England. The horcruxes are items of emotional value, each of which also contains a sliver of Voldemort’s soul, in order to keep him alive, should his body be destroyed (as happened when he tried to kill Harry as a baby).
Voldemort, meanwhile, is trying to collect the Deathly Hallows, a group of objects (a wand, a stone, a cloak) which, when combined, give the owner power over death. He’s chasing Harry to kill him, viewing him as his only obstacle to complete domination and the only threat to his own safety.
As Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and pals Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) pursue their goals, the battle for control of the wizarding world reaches a climax. It all comes down to a showdown at Hogwart’s, where the good wizards will battle the bad wizards and Harry will seek the final horcrux before his faces Voldemort.
There is more – much more – that gives this film an emotional punch that comes not just from the wrap-up of the tale. In particular, Alan Rickman’s deliciously deliberate and imposing Severus Snape gets to do something other than pose ominously. He turns out to be the story’s true outlier – someone whose importance and weight to this tale finally is uncovered.
The effects are brilliant, the pace and action are astounding – what more need be said? This is the movie that ties it all together, and brings it all to a satisfying ending. If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, the movie is obviously not meant for you.