HARRY POTTER AND THE
DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART II
****1/2 (out of 5)
July 15, 2011
Daniel Radcliffe as HARRY POTTER
Rupert Grint as RON WEASLEY
Emma Watson as HERMIONE GRANGER
Ralph Fiennes as LORD VOLDEMORT
Alan Rickman as PROFESSOR SNAPE
Helena Bonham Carter as BELLATRIX LESTRANGE
Michael Gambon as PROFESSOR DUMBLEDORE
Directed by: David Yates
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Well here we are, after ten years of filmmaking, four directors, billions of dollars at the box office and eight movies. The snitch that Professor Dumbledore willed to Harry Potter says, “I open at the close,” and now millions of fan sit in theaters waiting for the close of this series to open.
As a fan of summer event films, and someone who loves a healthy dose of fantasy in my movies, I’ve enjoyed the Harry Potter franchise as a whole. The series has had its ups and downs (I’m looking at you, “The Order of the Phoenix”), and with the lackluster Chris Columbus at the helm in the early years, things were off to a rough start. However, once Alfonso Cuarón took his stab at the franchise for the third movie, we were really off and running.
Now, British television director David Yates, who has been in charge of each installment since Year Five, brings the cycle to an end with the second half of “The Deathly Hallows.”
Taken as a stand-alone film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” is a convoluted mess. However, it was not made to win any screenplay competitions. This film is all third act, with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” serving as the set-up and exposition to the climax.
Fortunately, few people will be seeing this as a stand-alone film. Because as a final installment, as an action-packed, heartstring-pulling denouement, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” is simply awesome.
The story picks up where the last film left off. Harry and his friends are searching for the final hoarcruxes in which Lord Voldemort had hidden parts of his soul. Meanwhile, the Dark Lord is busy searching for Harry, hoping to put an end to his life, as he had tried to do eighteen years before.
For anyone who complained about “Deathly Hallows: Part I” being slow and drawn out with tons of dialogue and camping sequences, this should be a welcome relief. Aside from a somber opening sequence in which the kids decide to break into Gringotts Bank, there are very few moments in which the audience can catch their breath. This is the movie in which shit happens. This is the movie in which things get real.
As dark and foreboding as the other films have been, this new one takes things to a whole new level. And that makes sense, considering you have a mass murderer targeting a teenager and laying siege on his boarding school. Forget giant snakes turning people into stone and trolls wandering into the girl’s bathroom. The normally perilous Hogwarts school has become a battleground. Wizard parents would have found a safer haven for their kids in the streets of Baghdad than in this school.
But that’s one of the things that’s so great about this movie. J.K. Rowling did not shy away from the dangers she built up in the books, and David Yates follows suit with the film. Like the first installment in this final year of Harry Potter, the formula has been broken. Rather than following the kids through a series of classes on the school grounds, they’re fighting for a greater freedom in a bigger world.
Those with foggy memories of the other films might need a refresher course at least, and there are plenty of videos online that recap the last film. This can be necessary because Yates doesn’t slow down to explain anything. Hell, you’ve had seven previous films to figure this stuff out. If you don’t remember key story elements now, you’re getting no sympathy from this movie. Bravo to Yates for not spoon-feeding anything to his audience.
And bravo for the care and quality that was put into this film’s 3D conversion. It may not be worth a 50 percent ticket price hike, but it looks fantastic, and not just from a post-conversion standpoint. The 3D is subtle but effective, and it doesn’t get gimmicky. Rather, it does what 3D is supposed to do, and that is to add depth to the film and bring the viewer farther into the movie’s universe.
Those who read the book should be very pleased with this movie, as it is one of the most faithful adaptations of any source material I have seen, in this series or outside of it. And fans of the movies will likewise be thrilled because it proves to be one of the most exciting films in the franchise.
Say what you will about the other movies and the speed bumps that have been thrown up for Harry Potter in terms of publication delays, aging actors, visual effects challenges and other not-so-lethal dangers of the Muggle world. In the end, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” is a fantastic film on all levels. If only Hollywood would make more movies like this.