The final installment in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″, arrive in theaters worldwide this Friday and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. This review from canada.com’s, David Yates gives the film an unheard of 5 stars. I am definitely going to see this one.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith
Directed by: David Yates
PG: Intense violence, frightening images
Running time: 130 minutes
Rating: 5 stars
It’s the quality of one’s convictions that determines success, not the number of followers.” Maybe so, Professor Lupin, but Harry Potter has found success on both fronts.
The seven films to date have earned almost a billion dollars each, so it’s obvious their followers are legion. But this is also a series that takes itself seriously, never more so than in this, the deathly finale.
The story starts quietly. Even in the wizarding world, there’s a time for talk and a time for action, as writer Steve Kloves (with the series since the beginning, save The Order of the Phoenix) and director David Yates (bringing the story home with the final four films) have clearly learned.
Thus, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) spends some time interrogating an ancient wand seller (John Hurt) and a wizened bank teller (Warwick Davis) about magical weapons before vaulting into the film’s first big set piece. It’s an underground bank raid that combines elements of the trash compactor from Star Wars, the sorcery scene in Fantasia, and Indiana Jones’ mine car ride. Also, a dragon.
This being the last stop on the line, Harry and his pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are free to leave rubble in their wake, and they do so spectacularly. The demolition of Gringotts bank is just the beginning of the end.
Horcruxes (bits of bad-guy soul) fall like dominoes, and Hogwarts, their alma mater, takes a shellacking -though not before literally defending itself against the evil hordes of Voldemort -whose name, I’ve only just learned, derives from the French for “fly from death.” Someone’s been studying languages along with the dark arts.
The cinematic story stretches back to 2001, when Radcliffe was just a wee lad of 12. Thank heavens he and the rest of the young cast (no worries when it comes to the likes of Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, et al) have also grown as actors.
Despite the fact friends and foes still insist on calling him “boy,” this was the first Potter film in which I fully accepted Harry as an adult. “I trusted the man I knew,” Harry tells Aberforth Dumbledore (played by Ciaran Hinds) of his character’s brother, the late headmaster Albus Dumbledore. It’s spoken with the gravitas of a grown-up.
There was some grumbling from fans when Warner Bros. announced that J.K. Rowling’s seventh and final book, The Deathly Hallows, would be split into two parts. The studio was accused of carrying out its own Gringotts raid.
But the final chapter needs the extra time to breathe, and to allow each character a final, fanthrilling close-up. Harry and Ron doff their shirts. (There was some unmanly squealing at the Canadian premiere when it looked like Hermione might do likewise.) Ron and Hermione get a From Here to Eternity lip-lock. Even the faithful Quidditch brooms have one last flight, although the pitch is in flames.
The plot finds Harry, Ron and Hermione racing against time to destroy He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-But-We’re-Going-To-Anyway, played by Ralph Fiennes. Voldemort is rallying his followers for a final attack on Harry, while the young wizards collect and destroy the last few Horcruxes in hopes of rendering the Dark Lord vincible.
The quest leads them back to Hogwarts, where one particularly difficult-to-find object is hidden. Harry learns that he has -literally -a ghost of a chance of finding it. The action is backed by an amazingly apposite score from Alexandre Desplat, whose work in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King’s Speech and now here has made him my new favourite composer. (Sorry, James Horner.) Loud when it needs to be, the score is also frequently as quiet as a tomb. Yet there are moments when one can detect almost infrasonic rumblings, as though kettledrum-playing elephants were riding a subway beneath the cinema floor. It’s shiver-inducing.
The film, like the books, ends with a brief coda set 19 years in the future. Let’s just say of it that Ron has finally tamed that mop of hair. Shorter than the interminable farewells in The Lord of the Rings, this final scene feels, like the rest of the movie, perfectly paced and entirely satisfying.
It is -dare I say? -magical.
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