Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part Two--My film review
After ten years and eight films, the mega-popular Harry Potter franchise takes it's final bow, as the story of everyone's favorite young wizard comes to its exciting conclusion. Potter fans who've been waiting eagerly for the pay-off to the saga will not be disappointed. Director David Yates' Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 manages to be both epic and touching at the same time; a feat many films shoot for and fail to accomplish.
First, here's a note of warning for people unfamiliar with the complicated Harry Potter mythos: This movie is not for you! Unless you are well-versed in Potter-lore, this movie will be incomprehensible to you. Everything you need to know in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was explained in previous films. This installment drops us off at the climax of the story, and if you're a new watcher, you won't know the who or the why or what the heck is going on. But if you're up-to-snuff regarding the Potter-verse, you're in for a rousing good time.
The film picks up immediately after the conclusion of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part One. Our eponymous hero Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two ever-loyal pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are still on the run from the forces of evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes),and trying to destroy the seven Horcruxes (magical totems which contain pieces of Voldemort's shattered soul, and make him immortal) so that their enemy can be defeated. After a kinetic action sequence with dwarfs and a dragon, the story returns to where it belongs--inside the walls of Hogwarts school. Harry is greeted as a returning hero and soon finds himself organizing the defense of Hogwarts against the imminant assault by Voltemort's army. Harry leads both the students and faculty as they batten-down-the-hatches to keep the minions of evil at bay. A big chunk of the film is like a mystic version of The Alamo, with the heroes trying to defend their sanctuary from invaders, as the casualties begin to mount on both sides.
Harry thinks he can save the day by destroying the last of the Horcruxes, one of which is inside Hogwarts, but Harry is in for a surprise. There's an eighth Horcrux, which no one knew about and may spell doom for Harry if it is destroyed.
The film makes up for any lack of action in the first half of the story. (Part one was criticized for having too much exposition and not enough excitement.) Yates fires all barrels here and the action hardly lets up from beginning to end. The special effects are excellent, as well.
Many characters from previous 'Potter' films pop up--many only briefly--for this cinematic swan-song to the franchise. Some actually contribute to the plot, such as Minerva McGonagall (Played by Maggie Smith, who finally gets to kick some mystic keister here), Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) and Ollivander (John Hurt), but most are glorified cameos. Jim Broadbent (Slughorn), Robbie Coltraine (Hagrid), Jason Isaacs (Lucious Malfoy), Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley), and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) barely have a chance to register. Returning students include Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Fleur (Clemence Poesy), Seamus (Devon Murray), and Harry's love, Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). James and Oliver Phelps reprise their roles as Fred and George Weasley. Matthew Lewis nearly steals the show as Neville Longbottom, who steps up as an action hero in his own rite, and his bravery rivals Harry's.
Helena Bonham Carter is back as the derranged Bellatrix LeStrange (Her best scene is when she's playing Hermione masquerading as Bellatrix) and Tom Felton gets some closure as bad -boy Drago Malfoy. Michael Gambon has limited screen time as the wise Professor Dumbledore, which is really not a surprise since Dumbledore died two films ago. Finnes is very hateable as the sinister Voldemort. And, for course, the wonderful Alan Rickman is as captivating as ever, reprising his role as the enigmatic Severus Snape, whose mysterious motivations are finally made clear here.
The star trio of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson have grown up on screen and became adults before our eyes. Radcliffe gives his most confident and polished performance ever as Harry, and Watson continues to find the "it's-hip-to-be-square" sense of fun inside the brainy Hermione. Grint has advanced the least as an actor but he's adequate for what the script calls upon him to do here. At least Ron has moved beyond being mere comedy relief.
Lovers of the Potter franchise may feel teary-eyed during this film. Some beloved characters meet their maker, and the book's touching epilogue remains intact. Fans of the series will be sad that the ride is over but they'll be heartened to know that it goes out on a high note.
I'm also including a link to my review of the first half of this story, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One."