July 17, 2011
Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes
Release Date: July 15, 2011
One Last Wave of the Wand
Ten years after its debut, the Harry Potter film franchise has drawn to a close. The dedicated fan-based generated by the book series of the same name has been subject to a fairly consistent variety of offerings, but never (in my estimation, at least) has any one of the pictures ventured into the realm of being truly “bad.” Thankfully, the same can be said for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Is it epic? Not at all. But it is a slam-bang finale that—for the most part—satisfies.
Picking up where Deathly Hallows: Part 1 concluded, the final act of the film has a much more action-oriented focus. The story, of course, continues to revolve around mystical items called “horcruxes,” the persistent evil of Lord Voldemort, and the whimsical stuff that otherwise defines the alternate world in which Hogwarts exists. The final “revelations” are not entirely predictable, but anyone moderately familiar with Potter lore should have a solid idea as to where the whole thing is going to end up. In a sense, that’s one of the things that’s made the Harry Potter story so successful: it’s a clear-cut case of good vs. evil, and, given the ridiculously muddled narrative webs that many tales are caught up in these days, that’s an extreme rarity. I mean, really: in the final moments, when Harry and Voldemort are wand-dueling and red and green sparks are flying, one can’t help but think of other similar confrontations (think Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader, Frodo vs. Gollem, ad infinitum). At its core, then, the movie is fueled by a basic—though extraordinarily powerful—mythos that’s hard to ignore.
The movie isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, though.
In fact, it suffers from a similar syndrome that just about all stories with an abundance of fantastical elements seem to think is absolutely necessary: namely, a crazy amount of overblown battle sequences. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy this sort of thing every once in a while. I do, however, think that the story has to merit the inclusion of such a large-scale confrontation, though. Here, when goody-two-shoes-professors and minions-of-the-Dark-Lord face off amid the ruins of the once proud School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, there’s a sense that things are a bit… well… forced. It’s as if the filmmakers came to the realization that they were at the end, and that this was the appropriate time to plug-in sweeping armies, etc. It also seems as if the long-awaited showdown between Harry and Voldemort was much too tame. It’s got its moments, but when the inevitable comes to pass, I found myself whispering, “Really? That’s it?”
I know what you’re thinking: well, it was better in the book. That may be true. But this isn’t the book: it’s the movie. And after investing countless hours in this cosmic collision that should be the end-all, be-all of the Potter universe, the unfathomably large audience that’s waited patiently for this final installment deserves something much more grandiose.
I say all of this with love. I really did have fun watching the movie. It’s just that that special “something” that makes up a classic seems to be just out of arm’s-reach. When taken as a whole, though, there’s no denying the power of the spectacle of one of the better movie series to come along in quite some time.
out of 5