California Literary Review

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

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July 15th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

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Movie Poster: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Directed by David Yates
Screenplay by Steve Kloves

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Professor Albus Dumbledore
Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger

How long is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2? 130 minutes
What is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 rated? PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.

CLR Rating: ★★★★☆

Movie Still: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


It’s All Over

For a month, marquees and enormous posters across the globe have shouted ominously, “It all ends 7/15/11.” No, they weren’t warning of the coming apocalypse (that’s not until next year, you know); they were preparing us for the end of the Harry Potter series. Fans of the wizarding world and the boy with the lightning bolt scar flocked to theaters in November for Part 1 of Warner’s final installment of J.K. Rowling’s wildly successful fantasy novels. The decision to split the movie in two was met alternately with rolling eyes and gleeful squeals – although it seems to be a blatant moneymaking scheme (Summit is doing the same with the last Twilight movie), the seventh book of the Harry Potter series contains far, far too much vital material to squeeze into two and a half hours. Part 1 left Potter fans with an agonizing sense of anticipation, and at last night’s midnight premiere, we finally achieved the climax we yearned for.

First things first: if you’re seeking this review, you should know the final Harry Potter movie will turn your emotions topsy turvy. The movie is everything you wanted and more – but it signals the end of an era. Rowling published her first book fourteen years ago, and as the stories matured, so did the readers. A great many of them grew up right alongside our protagonist Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his best friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). Some have been avidly watching the series unfold for a decade, and although Rowling’s Pottermore website opens in October and there’s already speculation she’ll write another book set in the wizarding universe, this is the end — of the world she so meticulously constructed, of Voldemort, of Harry Potter’s childhood (and many of ours).

In Part 1, Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off to search for Horcruxes (parts of Voldemort’s split soul) in the English wilds. Meanwhile, they research and discover the meaning behind the Deathly Hallows, a trio of objects that ensure world domination at the hands of whatever wizard possesses them. In the final minutes of Part 1, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) located the all-powerful Elder Wand by removing it from the grave of former headmaster of Hogwarts School Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) – bringing the Dark Lord one horrifying step closer to ultimate supremacy. The second movie picks up exactly where that one left off, and from there it only gains momentum, smacking you with death, war, pain, and perhaps most importantly, love, faith, and loyalty.

Professors McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Flitwick (Warwick Davis), Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), and Sprout (Miriam Margolyes) become formidable figures in the war against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. The Weasley family experiences a tragic loss, but mother Molly gets her final say (so to speak) against insane witch Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). Ron and Hermione, whose love story developed from book one, finally share a passionate kiss. Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), who in the sixth book and film murdered beloved mentor Dumbledore, reveals just how deeply he has been entwined in the war from the very beginning, and on which side he was actually fighting. (Rickman wrote a very sincere, gracious letter to Rowling published in Empire thanking her for trusting him with the role – when he took it on in 2001, he had no way of knowing where the character was going, but Rowling certainly did.)

Director David Yates, who also helmed the last two films, has earned his due. Not only is the 3D done correctly (not as a gimmick but to supplement an already beautiful film), but Bruce Delbonnel’s cinematography is brilliant. In a series like this, acting often takes a backseat to the real treat – the fantasy – but the acting leaves little to be desired in the final movie. The extremely talented Rickman finally gets his chance to play a different version of the sadistic professor than the one in which we’ve been invested from the beginning. Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint, who’ve been playing these roles for half their lives, matured into, if not Oscar potential, then at least decent actors. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a silent, omnipresent character in every book and film, falls victim to the whims of Voldemort and his scraggly, brutal followers – and to see it demolished is both astonishing and heartrending. Although the films have left out a number of important storylines (most notably Hermione’s foiled attempt to start a Society for the Protection of Elfish Welfare – S.P.E.W.), they have closely paralleled the books and work fairly well as a standalone series.

In line for the midnight premiere, costumes included lion hats (a nod to Luna Lovegood, whose hat in the films roared), the bleach-streaked locks of Narcissa Malfoy, and dozens of pairs of round wire-rimmed glasses like Harry Potter’s. As always, there were a number of Bellatrix Lestrange lookalikes – she looks most like what we Muggles assume a witch would. A palpable glee wafted through the theater as cameras flashed and 3D glasses shaped like Potter’s rested upon hundreds of noses. Gasps, sobs, and cheers reverberated while sniffles and furtive nose-wiping punctuated the quietest scenes. This is true fandom, and it’s wonderful. Some would see this as insanity, some would laugh derisively – and to that I’d ask, “Well, what are you passionate about?”

From day one, through four directors, seven novels, and eight films, the world has watched in awe as spells were hurled, broomsticks flown, ultimate evil overthrown. We witnessed magic come to life in a fictional universe in which kids have agency, epic battles are fought not with nukes but wands and dragons, and real teenage life marches on in the face of adversity. It’s been a trip, and it may not be over yet, but it’s certainly bittersweet to know we’ll never wait with bated breath for another midnight premiere of a Harry Potter film. Those who love the movies and/or the books will feel elated, triumphant, saddened, and most importantly, thrilled that we got to be a part of it all.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Trailer

  • Bre

    I just wanted to correct something in your article…the first Harry Potter book was published in 1997 so that makes it 14 years ago.

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