HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (2011) (***1/2)
When I reviewed PART 1, I said that it wasn't a complete film and that everyone needed to check back to see how I really liked it when I'd seen the whole film. I'm happy to report that the conclusion of the HARRY POTTER series is epic and ultimately satisfying. And unlike PART 1 it works as a stand-alone film too.
The film picks up where the last one left off and the more familiar one is with PART 1 the easier it will be to follow this one. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliff) strikes a deal with the goblin Griphook (Warwick Davis, RETURN OF THE JEDI) to sneak into the Gringotts bank to search the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter, SWEENEY TODD) for one of the horcruxes, which hold a piece of the soul of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, THE ENGLISH PATIENT). Destroying them is the key to defeating You Know Who.
After the break-in goes astray, Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are on the run and must sneak back into Hogwarts, which is now a grim place run by the Dark Lord’s Death Eaters. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, GALAXY QUEST) has been named headmaster. Harry and his friends need to find the remaining horcruxes, which they know nothing about and must figure out a way to destroy them once they have been found. Their battle is certainly uphill.
Harry once again becomes the center of the story again. But his emotional maturation, which was the most fascinating part of the series, had reached its pinnacle about two films ago. Here he has become the hero that he was destined to become. It’s a bit less interesting then his growing pains, but it seems like the place the story had to go. He faces certain death with bravery, knowing that if he dies his friends will survive. Along the way he makes tough decisions. He was the boy who lived, but now he is a man.
Around Harry the key characters get at least a moment. I will not list them to avoid revealing secrets to those who have been fans of the films and not the books. Here again is a satisfying area. The film doesn’t leave anything out for the fans of the novels. This gives each character the do. While I knew what was coming, director Peter Yates does a great job of creating the same tension the book did as Harry faces off against Voldemort.
The attack on Hogwarts is an epic battle on the scale of the LORD OF THE RINGS series. Stone soldiers. Rampaging giants. Hordes of Death Eaters. Mayhem. Death. This is a real war with real consequences. Graduation from this school is rough business.
Kids in high school have grown up alongside Harry, Hermione and Ron. I’ve said it before; this is one of the best film series in history. No other has been more successful each time out. It was based around great characters from J.K. Rowling, which were taken seriously. For the student characters, it was a coming of age tale on a grand scale. Over the past decade, fans have come to love so many of the characters, which makes the world so vast and engaging. Now the legend of Harry Potter is complete, but we can always go back and relive it again. I have a feeling this will be true for generations to come.