Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011)

Note: No spoilers in this review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
Director - David Yates
130 Min; PG-13
Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter - Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley - Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger - Emma Watson
Professor Severus Snape - Alan Rickman
Lord Voldemort - Ralph Fiennes

The Harry Potter films have come to an end and, much like when the novels concluded, there will certainly be a void for many devoted fans who openly or secretly wish there would be just one more magical tale of wizardry around which they may wrap their imaginations.  Fortunately for us all we were given a decent send off with the second part of the Deathly Hallows adaptation and in the end it is all we can ask for from a decade long series of films which would always fight an uphill battle to live up to the highest of expectations from those who so dearly love the words from which the visuals took form.  The epic conclusion to the story of The Boy Who Lived remains mainly faithful to the original storytelling and audiences are treated to the proper amount of cathartic moments.  There are wonderful special effects with bright colored lightning bolts from magical wands, reappearances of characters from past movies, and finally the full back story to the most controversial figure in the Harry Potter world - Severus Snape.  Can you really ask for more?

The story of how Harry Potter came to be is actually quite amazing and I urge you to read about Rowling's efforts to conceive, write, and ultimately publish what has become and will surely stay as one of the all time greatest selling series in literature and as a movie franchise.  Here are the release dates of the novels in case you didn't know:

1.Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone released June 26th, 1997
2.Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets released July 2nd, 1998
3.Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban released July 8th, 1999
4.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire released July 8th, 2000
5.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix released June 21st, 2003
6.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince released July 16th, 2005
7.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows released July 21st, 2007

The films overlapped the development of the series, with release dates as follows:

Philosopher's stone: 16th November 2001
Chamber of Secrets: 15th November 2002
Prisoner of Azkaban: United Kingdom - 31st May 2004 United States - 4th June 2004
Goblet of Fire: 18th November 2005
Order of the Phoenix: United Kingdom - 12th July 2007 United States - 11th July 2007
Half-Blood Prince: 15th July 2009
Deathly Hallows: Part 1: 19th November 2010
Deathly Hallows: Part 2: 15th July 2011

In all likelihood the Harry potter series has had some effect on your life, whether you enjoyed the novels personally, read the novels with your children, or simply enjoyed the films.  If you paid no attention to the books or the movies, well, you missed out on something wonderful. 

In the final installment of the film series we follow Harry, Ron and Hermione as they work tirelessly to track down and destroy the remaining horcruxes containing pieces of Voldemort's soul.  What begins at a somewhat slow pace speeds up soon enough leading to the ultimate battle of good and evil at Hogwarts, an ongoing scene that takes up most of the film.  I was pleased with the amount of time spent focusing on Harry and Voledmort juxtaposed with the large scale battle going on around them, as well as the time taken to include many notable side characters and of course the story of Snape.  It should also be noted that, like the books, the films do not shy away from death, an important theme throughout the novels, and in this film many people do die.  Like the last film it is a darker piece that fits the situation.  Gone are the innocent days of potions blowing up in little kid faces and students discovering how to sneak out for a brew.  In the wizarding world there is a whole lot of serious business going on.

I loved all the Harry Potter novels but have not loved all the films.  I think most are decent and I will watch them again and again over time, but in the ranking of the films I would say this final installment ranks near the top.  Perhaps it has a lot to do with it all coming to a close, but I found the tone to be perfect in this film, and though the films will never live up to the great imagination of Rowling put in to words, I think they held their own in a way that allowed a generation of people young and old to allow themselves to be taken over for a decade+ of the story of the Boy Who Lived.

**** out of 5

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