After ten years, it ends. If that sentence doesn’t choke you up at least a little bit or get the eyes slightly damp, this movie isn’t for you.
I’ve never been a huge Harry Potter fan. I have all the movies on Blu-Ray. I like them well enough. They are very entertaining stories about witches and wizards and, behind all of that fantasy dressing, growing up. You watch a young boy and his friends go through the trials and tribulations of adolescence and become adults. These movies are so effective that I, a non-fan fan, even got a bit misty eyed at the end while all the girls and guys dressed up in various robes and skirts bawled uncontrollably, wiping their eyes with their improvised wands, woefully realizing what a horrible idea that is. Deathly Hallows, Part Two is, in nearly every way possible and in every way that counts, a complete triumph.
The only real negative here is that it is a movie made for the fans. The people who have followed this series since movie one, or preferably book one, they are the true target audience here. The uninitiated, those that have no idea what a Muggle is or why Lord Voldemort is so gosh darn angry at pretty much the entire world will be completely and utterly lost. So if you’re in that category and thinking of going to see this movie, don’t. Stop. Go watch the other movies. Then come back. There’s a good chap.
So we start exactly where we left off last time. Voldemort has the Elder Wand, which is pretty much the best thing ever. Harry and the others are still trying to find the other Horcruxes, which all contain parts of Voldemort’s soul. Destroy them, destroy Voldemort and all that. Oh, and Dobby is still dead. Goodnight, sweet prince…
This leads to a series of scenes and images that absolutely rips at the Harry Potter fanboy or fangirl buried within you. Harry and Co. go to Hogwarts, now under the control of the Death Eaters, to destroy the final Horcruxes. What they find is the place that represented their childhood is in utter ruin. Think of what happened to the school in Order of the Phoenix under the rule of Dolores Umbridge and multiply it times a hundred. But this is just the prelude. Voldemort soon realizes that Harry is slowly killing off little bits of his soul and launches a full on Death Eater invasion against Hogwarts. We get a fantastic battle with several beloved characters getting their chance to act like utter badasses…and get their chance to meet their maker. People die. The battle has consequences. And that is what this movie, this story, is.
I said it earlier, Harry Potter is the story of growing up. That gets a big ol’ period put at the end of the sentence with this movie. Hogwarts is in ruins. You can’t go back again Harry. You must move on, rebuild yourself after everything is said and done. For some reason, the image of the Quidditch field on fire just sticks out in my mind as an example of this. Remember the scene from the first movie where Harry first learns to fly on a broom and learns about Quidditch? Such a silly sport with a silly name. But it’s light and fun and optimistic. It’s the exact antithesis to the scene in Deathly Hallows.
As much as this movie is a payoff of ten years of storyline, it’s amazing how well the actors are able to handle that pressure. If you think about it, if these guys dropped the ball at this stage of the game, it’d be all over. Ten years wasted. Fortunately, that is nowhere near the case. Daniel Radcliffe, Rubert Grint, Emma Watson and all the other child actors have really grown into their own. They have lived in these character’s skins for so long they have no problem giving these characters the sendoff they deserve. We hardly have to worry about the adult cast. Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, world class actors all. Every single performance, from the most subdued to the most over-the-top dripping with overacting (I’m looking at you Helena) is spot-on perfect.
There are a few bumps along the road here. The book this movie is based on is massive, especially for a children’s book. Even with it being split into two movies, it feels like parts are left out. Characters do die in the attack on Hogwarts, but sometimes it seems as if their deaths are just mentioned and then passed over to get to the next major plot point. And Snape’s backstory is kinda…truncated might be the right word, but I don’t really know what to call it. I’m just saying, while no scene is rendered ineffective, sometimes things just feel a bit rushed. This is especially true coming from someone who has just watched the movies and can’t fill in the little gaps himself.
Now I do know that I’ve pretty much spent this entire review saying that this movie is good because it’s the perfect payoff. Well, that’s pretty much the truth. It’s like trying to describe why a volcano erupting is cool. You anticipate it, you want it to happen. The tension and suspense just builds and builds. And when it finally erupts it is a spectacular display of sight and sound. That’s what the eight Harry Potter movie is. It’s the end of all that waiting. And believe me, it is an ending worth waiting for.
|It's a fantastic conclusion to an epic series that helped define the childhoods of an entire generation of children. Even as a non-fan, I can appreciate that.||What with the books being so big and all, some things get left behind. It sometimes feels like, 'Hey, let's stop here, mention something quick and then move on.' It doesn't get in the way, but it's a bit irritating.|