Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt2
July 14, 2011
In “Deathly Hallows”, Harry Potter saves the best for last
Like any great magician, Harry Potter waited until he was about to walk off the stage to show the audience his most memorable trick, and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II” is memorable for all the right reasons.
The final installment of this franchise is Hollywood entertainment at its best: epic, engrossing, moving, terrifying and just plain fun. This isn’t just a great Harry Potter movie. It’s a great movie.
If you’ve never seen any of the previous movies or read any Harry Potter books, don’t let that stop you. You don’t need to know the history to follow the plot and enjoy the universe created by author J.K. Rowling. As for the legions of devoted fans who dressed up when each new book went on sale, they will be deeply satisfied with this last chapter, though I imagine it will be a bittersweet experience to say goodbye to an enormous, eclectic and well-developed cast of characters.
At the heart of “Deathly Hallows” are those three characters (and actors) who have matured both biologically and as performers before our eyes: Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Gint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). There are genuine moments of poignance, camaraderie and humor between these friends, but the revelation is undeniably Radcliffe. He makes Harry a hero worth rooting for, a vulnerable man who has gained strength in the face of tragedy throughout his young life.
(A brief aside: How about a round of applause for Susie Figgis, Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins and Karen Lindsay-Stewart? Ten years ago, these women were responsible for casting the original Harry Potter movie, and they scored a remarkable hat trick when they found these three children.)
Without giving too much away, the “Deathly Hallows” follows the final leg of a journey that will pit Harry against his nemesis, the ghastly, serpentine Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes ). With his immortality threatened, Voldemort becomes more dangerous as he grows more desperate to stop Harry and his friends. Fiennes, born to play characters who make our skin crawl, has transformed Voldemort into an iconic cinematic villain second only to Darth Vader.
The anticipation of Voldemort’s final showdown with Harry has been building up for 10 years, and that’s a lot of pressure in an era when special effects make anything possible. But anchored by the performances of Fiennes and Radcliffe, the visual spectacle of this ultimate confrontation will take your breath away.
“Deathly Hallows” could have focused exclusively on Voldemort and Harry still been a damn good movie, but David Yates – who directed the final four movies in the franchise – aims higher and hits his target. “Deathly Hallows” sheds light on the shadowy motives of several key characters, and for others it offers well-deserved, crowd-pleasing thrills. Audiences will cheer especially loudly for the heroism of Professor Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis).
The success of “Deathly Hallows” should not be limited to the box office, where the previous films have grossed more than $6 billion worldwide. Harry Potter’s final triumph deserves the same respect afforded the last movie in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture Oscar despite being the weakest of the three. Harry may not be able to conjure up his own Oscar, but the list of nominated films will be incomplete without “Deathly Hallows.”