Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Guest review by Robin Smith-Johnson.

Spoiler alert-o-meter: Major spoilers ahead so read at your own risk.

With the long-awaited final chapter of Harry Potter in theaters, the big question has to be – was it worth the wait? In a word, yes. The finale provides a nice finish to the huge story arc that J.K. Rowling began in the first book and subsequent movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001). Ten years ago, we met an 11-year-old Harry as he embarked on his adventures as a novice wizard. The author opened up a whole magical world of witches and their muggle counterparts (for the uninitiated, a “muggle” is someone from the non-magical, ordinary world).

At the end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I,” a triumphant Voldemort lifts the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave and raises it to the sky. It would seem that evil is about to trounce good. Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort is granted more screen time in part 2 and he puts it to good use. In this last film, we finally see Harry’s nemesis in all his horrible glory. This villain is ruthless and, at times, unpredictable. As Voldemort’s powers wane, Harry declares that this makes him more dangerous. His pursuit of Harry is so single-minded that anyone in his way will be destroyed.

The film is a complex mix of storytelling and adventure. For those moviegoers who haven’t either read the books or seen the movies, the going might be tough. A quick primer of the action should include the special nature of horcruxes. According to the Harry Potter wiki, a horcrux is a very powerful object in which a Dark wizard or witch has hidden a fragment of his or her soul. In Voldemort’s case, he has split his soul into seven parts in hopes of insuring his own immortality. In addition, there are the deathly hallows, three powerful magical objects that used in tandem can overcome death.

Overall, the cinematography is breathtaking. There is a scene where Hogwarts teachers perform enchantment spells to protect the school against the evil invaders. Statues of armored knights come alive and leap into position. A vast ethereal scrim is unleashed to cover the school. It’s a powerful, emotionally charged scene with great special effects. Indeed, the entire movie is a visual feast.

Throughout the eight Harry Potter films, movie goers have grown up with the young characters. Here, Harry and his friends are finally adults. I loved the quick glimpses of Ron and Hermione's long-time friendship turning into romance. The young trio do justice to Rowling’s idea of the brave, intrepid schoolmates in search of justice.

The real hero has to be the unlikely Neville Longbottom who stands up to the onslaught of Voldemort’s legions near the end of the movie. He risks his life to confront what he believes is a dark obstacle to the truth. Stirring stuff!

It’s always fun to see England’s most esteemed actors taking part in the films. Once again, we meet Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, beloved headmaster of Hogwarts (his character is dead but comes back in an other-worldly scene with Harry at the very end of the movie), Helena Bonham Carter is the over-the-top evil Belatrix Lestrange, the wonderful Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall and larger-than-life Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid.

The actor who demands the most respect for this film, however, is Alan Rickman as the mysterious Professor Severus Snape. Throughout Harry Potter’s journey, Snape has been both friend and foe to Harry. In the final movie, we finally understand what makes Snape tick. The trip back in time thanks to the pensieve (an object used to retrieve memories) gives Harry a look at the real Snape. This was the most moving part of the film where the film viewer finally understands the depth of Snape’s love for Harry’s mother Lily and the sacrifices Snape has undergone to honor that love and protect Harry.

In the end, this film shows the grand battle between good and evil played out on the school grounds of Hogwarts. Although Voldemort seems all-powerful, his comeuppance is quick and powerfully done. Favorite characters die; others are injured. Somehow, though, the resourcefulness and integrity of Harry and his friends shine through.


Theater location: Heritage Cinemas in Sandwich, Friday, July 29, 6:30 p.m. Price: $9.50.
Movie date with hubby Greg. No snack.


Robin said...

Dell - thanks for posting my review! I really enjoyed writing this and look forward to doing more in the future. Have fun on the Vineyard!

Dell Smith said...

Thanks for sending it along, Robin! You do a great job of wrapping up this final chapter of a ten year (!) epic story.

Cynthia Sherrick said...

Great review, Robin! I think I need to see this movie. :)

However, the really big question is: No snack?

Liz's Mom said...

Well done, Robin. I loved this review. I love knowing what happened, so I am delighted to find out.

You explain all the complicated plots, past history,and wizard vocabulary, with economy and grace.

Robin said...

Thanks Liz's Mom for your nice comment! Cindy -- the ticket prices were so high we decided we weren't hungry!!