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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: A Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger Emma Watson
Bellatrix Lestrange Helena Bonham Carter
Hagrid Robbie Coltrane
Lord Voldemort Ralph Fiennes
Dumbledore Michael Gambon
Minerva McGonagall Maggie Smith
Sirius Black Gary Oldman
Snape Alan Rickman
Remus Lupin David Thewlis

Directed by David Yates.  Running time: 131 minutes.  Rated PG-13

In my time I have seen things that were truly horrific… now, I know that you will see worse.  – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009)

It all ends.  This is the tagline for the final part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It’s also a message that will elicit more than a few tears from a dedicated global fanbase that rivals virtually any in history.   With this end to the Harry Potter franchise, what is at stake is the punctuation at the end of it all.  Will it be a period, or an exclamation point?  I’m happy to report that it’s not only an exclamation point, but an emphatic one.

Our titular hero Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), along with friends Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson)  have done quite a bit over the over the last seven films.  They have fought dementors and arachnids, stood up to a pink dictator in Dolores Umbridge, and watched as he-who-must-not-be-named returned.  Each has had to make sacrifices.  Hermione wiped her parents memory of her to keep them safe, and Ron’s brother was mauled by a werewolf, but Harry has suffered far more.

Always at the center of the conflicts of each movie, Harry has lost family, friends and mentors along the way.   First it was his parents, then fellow student Cedric Diggory, his godfather Sirius Black,  and worst of all, Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore who’s death/murder has finally stripped Harry of the last remaining parental figure he had left.  But it only gets worse from here.

At the outset of the movie we get a heavy dose of moody silence as newly appointed Hogwarts headmaster Severus Snape watches as the new regime begins.  It’s clear that Hogwarts is not the warm, fun-filled, magical place of learning it once was.  From just a few shots we see that this place has the appearance of a prison, rather than a school, which shows just how far Lord Voldemort’s influence has spread.

Harry meanwhile, pays his last respects to Dobby before seeking a meeting with the goblin Griphook, who leverages his services in getting to Belatrix Lestrange’s vault in Gringotts in exchange for the sword of Godric Gryffindor.

The search for Voldemort’s last remaining horcruxes ( an object into which a wizard infuses a piece of their soul) which keep him tethered to life even when killed, are still at the top of Harry’s to-do list.  This vault Harry figures, holds one of the few horcruxes left.

The break-in finds Hermione transformed into Belatrix with the help of polyjuice potion.  After a tense scene getting past security, Harry and Co.  descend into the labyrinthian depths of Gringotts where they encounter a full grown dragon guarding the vault.

After getting past the dragon, they encounter a curse within the vault that multiplies every object they touch.  As you can imagine, this complicates matters greatly in attempting to find the hidden horcrux.

Getting in was tough, but getting out is worse with Griphook turning traitor and attacking with his fellow goblins along with the giant white dragon.  Taking  Hermione’s lead, the trio unshackle the dragon and ride on it’s back out of Gringotts as it feels freedom for the first time in centuries.

The only place left to find the last horcrux is Hogwarts.  After getting some unexpected help from Dumbledore’s brother, the trio face the impossible task of not only finding it, but facing the onslaught of Voldemort and his army of death eaters.

Intertwined with the search for the last remaining stationary horcrux (Voldemort’s pet snake is the last we know of) is the battle itself which is magnificently translated from page to screen.  David Yates does an excellent job at showing the brutality of war, and while I wish there were a few more on screen deaths to punch home that point, it’s done well.

Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) has been both a mystery and a thorn in Harry’s side for a long time.  In a character arc that has spanned seven books and eight movies, his motivations are finally revealed after a brutal death scene at the hands of Voldemort.

Harry uses strands of memory from Snape’s tears along with the pensieve to see who Snape really was.  It’s a masterful flashback that gives context to everything that Snape has done over the years and why.  It remains the most poignant scene in the entire movie, and possibly in the franchise as well.

Realizing his destiny, Harry walks to confront Voldemort and death, speaks with Dumbledore once again, and helps to bring Voldemort down finally in the ruins of Hogwarts.  Along the way we see once cherished characters die, while others become the heroes they were always meant to be.

The final movie in the Harry Potter series is an amazing creation.  It’s a piece of majestic cinema that hurtles with a breakneck pace from beginning to end.  Amazingly however, things don’t feel rushed.  Scenes are given time to breath, and while there were specific scenes I wished had made the cut, I cannot truly complain that the movie didn’t accomplish what it needed to.

As actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have grown so much in the last ten  years that they barely resemble the kids who’s acting was wooden.  There is plenty of nuance in every actor now which is good because there are many scenes that require it.

But no actor in this movie can compete with Alan Rickman.  His portrayal of Severus Snape over the years has been masterful, and yet often cut down to the bare minimum of scenes.  In this one however, he gets his due.  There is even talk of Rickman getting nominated for an oscar.  It’s just that good.

In addition to Rickman, many of the great British actors make an impact.  Ralph Fiennes does a wonderfully evil job of portraying Voldemort, but adds an added dimension of vulnerability that we don’t see in the books.

All in all, this was an amazing final movie and a great one in general.   The level of craft and care used is stunning and finished off one of the highest quality series of all-time.

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