Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4) : It ends well with a bang

Finally, after nearly 10 years, we arrive at the point where the story ends. With the stage for a big finale established in Part 1 in last winter, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” does an excellent job as the climatic half of the finishing chapter of the series that has been entertaining us. Our expectation is fulfilled with lots of things including the final confrontation between its hero and his evil arch-nemesis. The movie shines with nice special effects and good performances. And it is time to say goodbye to Harry Potter and other memorable characters – and a very good fantasy series that has exceptionally kept its momentum over 8 films.

Part 2 starts with the last scene from the Part 1, so, to understand what is going on, you have to watch Part 1 before watching Part 2. In previous movie, Lord Voldemort(Ralph Fiennes), the powerful evil wizard, takes the control over Ministry of Magic after the death of Professor Dumbledore(Michael Gambon), the mentor of Harry Potter(Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, Ron(Rupert Grint) and Hermione(Emma Watson). They cannot go to Hogwarts School this time, and, while avoiding Voldemort’s followers and accompanying dangers, they try to find and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes, the fragments of his souls that makes him near immortal. Their situation becomes darker and more desperate while they try to defend themselves. Furthermore, Voldemort gets a very powerful weapon; with that, he can possibly do what he has yearned for a long time – killing Harry Potter.

Because the movie is entirely about how the series ends, explaining what happens in Part 2 may a spoiler to you, unless you have read all of J.K. Rowling’s books(I read them all, by the way). Let’s say Part 2 is basically the climax that relentlessly drives you for about 2 hours. Many things happen during less than two days on the screen; Harry and his friends have to go through another series of perilous adventures, the final conflict soon starts at Hogwarts School, everyone gets very busy, and the hidden secrets are revealed and explained to Harry and us.

We do not get lost in its rapid progress. The pacing is appropriate, and the urgency is seldom absent – even during the obligatory flashback/explanation scenes. The finale in the book is changed a little for more dramatic effect. Several elements of the book, including Dumbledore’s hidden past, are omitted or condensed in the adaptation process, but these changes do not hurt the story much. The screenplay writer Steve Kloves, who adapted all of Rowling’s books except the one, succeeds again in satisfying both Harry Potter fans and average moviegoers, and he deserves the praises for completing the hefty job of adapting Rowling’s books.

  The series went around several talented directors like Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, and Mike Newell, and then it has settled on the director  David Yates since “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”(2007). With the dependable cast and crews accustomed to the series, Yates makes the movie as competent as his previous works. Thanks to the cinematographer Eduardo Serra,  the dark atmosphere surrounding Hogwart School is impressive along with the first-rate production design. CGI is very good while functioning as the part of the story; it never overshadows the characters in the apocalyptic battlefield between the good and the evil.

As the series gets darker in the later entries, there have been casualties and damages. While the wonder of their world is now less enchanting and more familiar than before, we still care about them and their world, and we understand what they try to do at their great risk. While the Hogwarts becomes the last stand against Voldemort and his followers, lots of things are smashed and exploded around them. This is quite a tough growth process for these kids.

The three main performers, Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson, have also walked down a long, hard way since the beginning. Their presence in the movie reminded me how much they have been changed while we have watched them growing up on the screen. They were kids when we met them in the first Harry Potter movie. The start was a little awkward at first, but they have been comfortable with their respective roles for years, and they are now adults who will probably move on to the next step in their lifes after this series.

And they are surrounded by many wonderful British actors who consistently steal the show. Harry Potter series has been the encyclopedia of the talented British actors, and, regardless of whether the roles are big or small, they have a good time with their supporting roles. In this movie, we meet again Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, and many others. Not so surprisingly, the dark characters are the most amusing to watch. Carter has a brief but funny scene when Hermione has to disguise herself as Carter’s evil witch, and Fiennes is superbly menacing as Harry’s arch-nemesis; he relishes when his character threatens the students and teachers at the Hogwarts. As the professor Snape, one of the most interesting characters in Harry Potter series, Rickman has his moments with the personal secrets behind his cold demeanors which overwhelm the young students of Hogwarts School.

The notable flaw of the movie is that it is not wholly complete as a movie, but that is just a minor complaint about its inherent flaw when you look at the series as a whole. Like other movies in the series, this one works well as a part of the series – it does a solid finishing job. It is sort of amazing that they have maintained the production quality for a long time; all eight films are well-made and enjoyable, and none of them are particularly weak or bad. It ends well, and all is well.

I remember what the great filmmusic composer Bernard Herrmann said about his working experience with “Obsession”(1976): “After so many weeks those two characters – Cliff Robertson and Geneviève Bujold – were no longer celluloid fantasies but real people. It was like saying goodbye to two of my closest friends.” I felt the same while watching the last scene of Harry Potter series. Goodbye, Harry Potter, it has been entertaining to watch your and others’ adventure. And I sincerely hope they will not ruin this wonderful series for earning more money. Have they already earned enough, haven’t they?

Sidenote: I watched 2D version, so I cannot tell you about 3D. But I assure you, but I did not lose anything while watching 2D version. Plus, it is a dark film; you do not have to make it dimmer with the 3D glasses.

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1 Response to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4) : It ends well with a bang

  1. Greg says:

    A fitting end to the series, indeed. And I’m not ashamed to admit that there were scenes in this film that made me cry, which has never happened to me while seeing a Harry Potter film before.

    Now I feel like going back and watching the first seven movies again. And bravo to whoever was behind the decision to split the seventh book into two films. They couldn’t have done justice to the series with only one film.

    SC: I was a little cynical about that decision, but now I agree it was a good choice. I hope I will have the time to watch them all again.

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