It has ended. One of the best franchises in cinematic history is now over, The Boy Who Lived now a past event. But what an event it was. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is an epic conclusion to the storied franchise, a penultimate finale that sizzles with emotion, suspense and action - and the sad acceptance that there are no more Harry Potter movies to tell.
The first half of the movie, released last year, was an alluring, engaging tale of friendship strained and evolved by the task at hand. It was also patient (slow), a build-up to the climax. Some people called it boring.
No one can call Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 slow or boring. The movie, with a short Harry Potter running time of 130 minutes, is set almost exclusively against The Battle of Hogwarts, where the school is invaded and obliterated, its inhabitants - the students and teachers we've grown to know over the last ten years and eight movies - slaughtered so that He Who Must Not Be Named can finally murder Harry Potter.
The plot is simple: one must kill the other, and nothing else matters.
Directed by David Yates and written by Steve Kloves, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is top notch, a massive, sweeping production that stays very close to the book while trimming the fat. The movie is streamlined, but Yates holds little back; major characters die and hell is unleashed much in the way events occur in the book.
The Deathly Hallows is a far cry from the early films. The little kids, who were driven by innocent curiosity, are now grown up, fighting for their lives in a very serious summer blockbuster. And Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the kind of blockbuster we wish every movie could be.
The acting is excellent; Warner Brothers is lucky (or skilled?) to have cast three unknown entities at such a young age who would grow up to be actors capable of The Deathly Hallow's complex blend of drama, humor and seriousness - and to still look the part.
Beyond Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, the supporting cast is also superb. While Ralph Fiennes has shown some muscle in previous movies, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 shows exactly why such a talented actor was recruited to play Voldemort, one of the most sinister and frightening villains ever put to screen. Fiennes embraces his character's complex wickedness, especially in the scenes where he realizes that he is not as invincible as he once thought.
The movie's one weakness is that it is the second half of a single story; Yates hits the ground running, rarely stopping to catch his breath after the opening title sequence. The Deathly Hallows is meant to be watched as one film; I encourage you to watch the first half immediately before heading to theaters for the second.
That being said, I completely stand by the decision to split the book into two parts. Each half has their separate, unique tone, and to have kept this important finale as a single film, the smaller moments that have always defined the Harry Potter franchise would have been lost in a production that would need to be well over three hours long.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is an excellent, spellbinding conclusion to an excellent franchise. Those who abandoned the franchise early on - or never started it in the first place - should give Harry Potter a second chance. The Deathly Hallows is well worth the journey.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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