The tale of "the boy who lived" cast its spell on moviegoers 10 years ago and the Harry Potter franchise hasn't slowed since. When word came out the final film "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" would be released as two films, some cried foul. Most thought it was a moneymaking ploy, but fans still flocked to see the first installment of the "Deathly Hallows".
Now comes Part 2 and the finale of a franchise that has earned a whopping $6 billion worldwide and that figure is about to jump significantly.
"Deathly Hallows Part 2" has already smashed presale ticket records, racking up more than $32 million in ticket sales by Tuesday afternoon. Potter and company seems poised to take down "The Dark Knight" to claim the biggest weekend opening of all time. But what you really want to know is whether the final movie live up to the hype and brings a fulfilling conclusion to this beloved franchise. The answer is a resounding yes.
I will begin the review portion with a confession -- I've not read the final book. I bought it the day it came out and tucked it way. Nor have I sought out info and more than a time or two ran the other direction when people began talking about the book. I wanted to go into the final films with zero knowledge of what was to happen and let the magic work its way over me like it had in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".
What I really liked about this film is it starts where the last movie ended. No recap, no "here's what ya missed" -- it picks up where "Deathly Hallows Part 1" ended and begins it ascent. I liken it to a rollercoaster, as the first part of the film is like that climb before the excitement begins. You're tense, breathless and just waiting for your stomach to drop, your jaws to clinch and for the ride to overtake you. And that's what "Deathly Hallows Part 2" does.
The word epic is tossed around a lot these days, but it's the best word to use describing "Deathly Hallows Part 2". The tension is what makes the film work so well, with the thought that it could snap at any moment heightening the excitement. As Harry gets closer to his final encounter with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), his world is literally crumbling around him.
The trio of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) must find their way into Hogwarts, where Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) has been promoted to Head Master, to locate a Horcrux. Snape is expelled from the school with the help of Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and the good guys prepare to make their final stand as Lord Voldemort draws near.
The ensuing battle sees the Quidditch pitch in flames, the walls of Hogwarts crumbling and Harry one step closer to his destiny of facing Lord Voldemort to determine the fate of the wizarding world. The face-to-face has everything you'd expect and more.
I know that most reviews will hint at major plot points and things to be on the lookout for, but not this one. I want you to go into this with a clean slate and be surprised on your own account, not because I told you.
The franchise's ability to keep most all of the actors in place for an eight-film run over 10 years is amazing. It shows the love the cast has for the subject matter and their devotion to see it through to the end. It also makes it seem like we're sitting down with some good friends to tell us a story everytime these characters come on screen.
As I've told people before, Harry Potter has nothing to do with magic. It's set in the fantastic world filled with spells, wands and creatures, but the true magic of the story comes from within the characters. The story is filled with instances of courage, loyalty, friendship, and in the end, the power to accept who we as individuals are and be at peace with it.
In the end Harry is faced with a decision most of us might never have the chance to experience. He's shown his destiny and it's up to him to accept it and make it happen. Most characters, and that includes us on this side of the screen, are never afforded the opportunity to truly know what fate has in store for us and therefore we don't know what our action would be in the situation. In the case of Harry Potter, he's shown his destiny, and it's not a favorable one, and he understands it's the way things must shake out to bring about the outcome that is needed.
"Deathly Hallows Part 2" benefits from having director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves part of the production. This marks Yates' fourth go-round directing Harry Potter, and Kloves has written seven of the eight Potter films, being absent for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix".
The film is powerfully acted by Radcliffe, Grint and Watson and its easy to tell the trio gave it their all to close out the films. Fiennes is spot-on with Lord Voldemort, with every whispery word sending chills down your spin.
The highlight for me was, once again, Rickman's devilish delightful Snape. Having not read the book I didn't know what faction he was truly aligned with, but in "Deathly Hallows Part 2" we get to see how he is, why he's the way he is and his character is galvanized as one of the best of the franchise.
Final Cut: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is a fitting end to a franchise that has always used its strength of story as its primary weapon. It's hard to believe that Harry, Ron and Hermione won't grace the screen again in another adventure, but the characters have gained a special place in the hearts of moviegoers worldwide and will live on as one of the best fantasy franchises of all time. The film is epic and more profound that most would realize. And looking back over 10 years of wonderful films, only one thing can be said -- we'll miss ya, Harry.
5 out of 5 stars
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright
Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves (Screenplay), J.K. Rowling (Source Material)
Run time:2 hrs. 10 min.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images