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Harry Potter's Final Destination

After 10 years, seven movies, six Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, four directors, two dead parents, one grating house elf, and incalculable amounts of CG wizardry, pubescent growing pains, budding romances, and apocalyptic fire and brimstone, we’ve finally arrived: Bespectacled Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) squares off against amphibian-faced Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. It’s a climax of truly epic proportions, not only for its narrative import but for the fact that it heralds the end of a beloved decade-long Warner Bros. franchise that has reaped billions (including for its creator/author J.K. Rowling), mainstreamed gobbledygook terms like “Muggle,” turned its broom-flying sport Quidditch into a real-world pastime, and, to the illogical objections of some conservative commentators, celebrated youth, love, and loss as inherently magical processes.

With a pop-culture goliath riding on its back, David Yates’s adaptation of the second half of Rowling’s last tome follows a Part 1 that could barely sustain itself as a stand-alone work, given that it was driven less by necessary plot fidelity than by a desire to squeeze two films’ worth of box-office profits from a single book, a bottom-line decision that’s also true of this entry’s superfluous 3-D. And yet Part 2 is a magnificent finale for this fantasy opus, one that pays ample justice to Harry’s long-in-the-making showdown with He Who Must Not Be Named, a battle in which life and death, the past and the future, precariously hang in the balance. Before that cataclysmic confrontation can take place, though, Deathly Hallows must first chart Harry’s attempts alongside best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) to locate a collection of remaining Horcruxes—enchanted objects that house pieces of Voldemort’s soul, and whose destruction will make the Dark Lord mortally vulnerable.

That objective requires breaking into dragon-guarded Gringotts Wizarding Bank with the help of one of its goblin employees (Warwick Davis), as well as convincing a Hogwarts school ghost (Kelly Macdonald) to reveal the whereabouts of a hidden tiara. These quests pit treachery and self-interest against steadfastness and sacrifice, a fundamental series conflict that’s embodied by Harry and Voldemort, the Christ and Satan at the center of Rowling’s coming-of-age saga. Still, the propulsive film (penned, like all but one of its predecessors, by Steve Kloves) remains interested in such religious notions of martyrdom, fate, and rebirth only insofar as they reflect the story’s overriding celebration of friendship as an unbreakable bond even under the greatest of strains. Thus this installment’s reunion vibe, heavy on cameos and returns to familiar locales, isn’t merely a concession to demanding Potterphiles, but rather a closing expression of Rowling’s belief in the primacy of camaraderie and devotion in the face of annihilation.

Yates’s latest boasts an almost classical attention to mood and composition, with the director allowing shots to breathe for more than five seconds at a time, conveying emotion through careful framing, and—notwithstanding a somewhat visually subpar airborne flight from fire—imbuing his CG-heavy centerpieces with grace and majesty. As before, however, performance trumps spectacle, especially with regard to Alan Rickman, capping off his iconic turn as Professor Severus Snape by slowing his dialogue down to a sinister crawl, and Radcliffe, completing his portrait of Harry’s transformation from wide-eyed naïf to selfless adult with intense conviction and heart.

That development has naturally been mirrored by the series as a whole, whose early, buoyant, kid-friendly adventures are such a far cry from this film’s black-night doom-and-gloom that, when now we get a quick glimpse of a cheerfully boyish Harry or of a long-ago teacher, it’s like a punch to the stomach. The loss of innocence is Harry’s true destiny, and as the movies have moved from the juvenile wonder of Chris Columbus’s efforts to the teenage awkwardness, confusion, and anger of subsequent chapters, what emerges is a frank, multifaceted view of getting older as something at once jarring, frightening, and—in its ability to allow one to clearly confront the world as it truly is—liberating.

Deathly Hallows’ revelations of allegiance, deaths of cherished characters, and panoramas of ash-gray warfare—here highlighted by the sight of a jellyfish-membrane force field enveloping Hogwarts, and a race across a chaotic battlefield—can’t fully compensate for a conclusion that hinges a tad too heavily on schematic and perfunctory magic-world laws. Yet such a miscue is ultimately negligible, for in its majestic vision of the energy blasts from Harry and Voldemort’s wands clashing across a school courtyard, or in its flurrying flashbacks of Snape’s true relationship with murdered Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), the film recognizes, with a maturity and sincerity that have become the franchise’s hallmarks, that love and loyalty are the most vital, powerful, and real in times of true darkness.

 
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8 comments
Brooklynish
Brooklynish

This movie was not a good adaptation of the book, nor does it stand on its own as a successful film. The film was boring, drawn out, and stale, and it didn't create any of the epic urgency of the book. David Yates changed -- completely unnecessarily -- so many details I'd found to be interesting in the book, perhaps for film expediency, but then wasted time on hollow dramatic concoctions. He is an emasculating director.

But then, I didn't see the movie in 3D, and I actually read the book.

guest
guest

Excellent review.

Cbill88
Cbill88

This Harry Potter series which spanned over a decade ended with the worst kind of writing offense an author can commit - Deus Ex Machina.

Throughout the series, fans were wondering how will Harry Potter and friends defeat the all powerful dark wizard Voldemort? What clever way is the author devising? What grand plan is she setting us up for? Well, it turns out that the author, Rowling, had NO plan. Just out of the blue she throws in an "all powerful one wand" which defeats the all powerful evil in the end. This "one wand" that was not so much as mentioned in the previous books or movies (Not including part one, it's the same movie from the same book even though they charge you twice); not a hint, not a whisper. This is shameful writing. The fans deserve better.

A truly lazy effort. I feel really sorry for the fans that had grown up through childhood with this story and get such a lackadaisical ending. Poor writing, poor storytelling.

melanie tucker
melanie tucker

you have got to be kidding. It's just the reviewer writing that super-cliche "mock-majestic/failed novelist" mode. Totally misses what's interesting and great about this film and the series in general.

Kevin Carter
Kevin Carter

deathly HALLOWS... Three hallows, together make one the master of death.

It wasnt just the "all powerful one wand" that allowed harry to defeat Voldemort, but the combined power of all three objects, The Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone (introduced in Book 6) and the Cloak Of Invisibility (Introduced IN THE FIRST BOOK), all this coupled with the fact that voldemort was using not only a wand that was not rightfully taken but also taken from one of his oldest enemies and had no allegiance to him and therefore didnt make his magic nearly as powerful as it would be normally.

And whilst the Elder wand itself was not mentioned in any of the previous books, its set up was built throughout the series. Gellert Grindalwald, the Wizard who had the wand before Dumbledore and Dumbledores defeat of this wizard was mentioned in Book one and Gregorovitch, the wandmaker from whom Gellert stole the Elder wand was mentioned in Book 4.

So I'm sorry but your opinions are fairly unfounded if not wholly innacurrate.

Jjac84
Jjac84

Ha ha I think u totally missed the point of Harry believing he would die if he faced u know who. That is sacrifice something most would never do. Also it's about how the group overcomes evil and doesn't just give up I think u should focus more on the people in the book than the props. Harry could never have beaten voldemort with only the elder wand read the books again. As to the wand it would have ruined the voyage of discovery of finally discovering a way when all seems lost

ibivi
ibivi

She could pretty much get away with this type of sloppiness because by the time she got around to writing the ending she had her audience and her riches. I slogged my way through the all the Narnia books to the end and even C S Lewis had a few volumes where he wasn't his at his best. She probably just ran out of steam. It happens.

 

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