Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman.
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 130 mins. Reviewed in Jul 2011
The finale of the Harry Potter movie series consists of two films: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” (2010) and this film, released in 2011. Part 1 ended, and Part 2 begins, as the evil Lord Voldemort exultingly snatches the Elder Wand from the hand of Professor Dumbledore, who lies in his grave. The Elder Wand is one of three Deathly Hallows, and Harry and his friends have to destroy the Horcruxes that are pieces of the soul of Voldemort. Harry himself is the last and seventh of those Horcruxes. The story is thus set for Part 2, the conclusion to the Harry Potter series, based on the writings of the richly creative British author, J. K. Rowling.
This series has taken more than $6 billion at the Box Office. Beginning in 2001 with the release of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, it has established enormous expectations and challenges for a concluding episode that preserves both the heady action of a movie that will be satisfying in itself, and one that meaningfully draws the threads together of seven previous film.
The film lives up to those expectations extraordinarily well. It is a very satisfying climax to the most commercially successful series in the history of film. In it, the opposing forces of Good, represented by Harry Potter and his friends, and Evil, represented by Voldemort and his Death Eaters, move into total war. In the ensuing battle, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is asked to make the supreme sacrifice, to the taunt of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) that “you have allowed your friends to die for you, rather than face me yourself.”
Part 1 was a dark and measured film about the loyalties of Harry, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) to each other, as they faced the challenges of growing up. This is a much grander movie where Good and Evil, dramatically confront each other. The surface plot of trying to destroy the remaining Horcruxes is subjugated to the final, special effects-filled show-down of Harry and the Dark Lord. Previous plot lines are drawn together, old familiar characters like Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) return to play a final and magical role, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy takes on a more sinister look. The old Hogwarts was home to eye-catching special effects, that visually dazzled and entertained us, like the fantastic Quidditch matches, that were played in many of the previous films. Here, Hogwarts is the battle ground for life-threatening decisions about which of the two forces, Good or Evil, means survival for those who live inside its walls. In this film, previous plots are integrated, flashbacks are used to show the true nature of characters like Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and the core emotions behind the characters are not forgotten.
This is the only one of the Harry Potter movies to be made specifically for the 3D medium, and the film is best viewed in this format. The special effects are obviously designed for it, and they are superbly captured by the film’s special effects supervisor, Tim Burke. What marks this film as distinct from the ones before it (and many other movies, as well), is that the visual effects are not there just to be marvelled at; rather, they are integrated effortlessly into the drama, and serve as its background. Parents, though, should be mindful that some scenes are still scary.
The moral themes that the film projects are love, friendship, and loss, and the values which accompany them move to the fore in an action-packed finale. Characteristic of the series as a whole – but often submerged by it in the past – is the message that darkness can lurk in each of us, but can be overcome by love, goodness, and courage.
This movie is hugely entertaining, and will not disappoint those who go to see it. For Harry Potter and his fans, it brings a highly imaginative series, a little sadly, to a life-endorsing end.
12 Random Films…