Friday, July 15, 2011

On Olden Wand: The Flying and Magic Comes to an End in “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”

I’m not sure I’ll ever really understand the pop culture phenomenon that is “Harry Potter.” Ok, I kind of get it, but not completely. Why a magical boy wizard captured the hearts and minds of not only the world’s youth, but of the adult population as well is something I can’t quite put my finger on. So I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, unlike everyone else in the world, and that’s most likely part of the reason why Harry Potter doesn’t quite mean that much to me. However, I can say that the now concluded eight part film series will remain one of the most popular and beloved motion picture series of all time (it doesn’t quite live up to the Elm Street series, but I digress). Having said that, the films themselves are completely watchable, maybe even a little magical, if not sometimes confusing to muggles like me. “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” the epic conclusion to this whole series makes a wonderful ending, even if I sort of sat there dumbfounded a few times still wondering what the heck these magical characters were really talking about.

We learned in the last movie (the first part of the adaptation of the 7th book) that the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has separated his soul into several “horcruxes” with the intent of becoming immortal. The boy wonder Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) set out to find these horcruxes and kill Voldemort once and for all. A couple horcruxes have already been found and destroyed, but we soon learn what other horcruxes exist and the possibility that not only WHAT could be a horcruxe but WHO could be a horcrux. Ok, spoiler alert, Harry is a horcrux. It turns out when Voldemort killed infant Harry’s parents a part of Voldemort’s soul was trapped in Harry, which explains their strange connection and them being able to be aware of each other and get inside each other’s heads. So if Harry is supposed to destroy all the horcruxes that must mean Harry himself needs to be sacrificed. Oh what’s a poor wizard boy to do? Oh and Voldemort has some really powerful wand.

Besides being slightly confused here and there, as you recall I haven’t read these books, I found the film to be pretty entertaining and well constructed. Even though it’s part 2 it really sort of feels like it can exist on its own, with its own beginning, middle and end. This second part focuses more on action as there is a huge battle at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school, which was now being run by the ambiguously evil Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), who had previously killed Headmaster Dumbledore way back in part 6. We learn much more about Snape who has spent the entire series as someone seen as possibly evil but things aren’t always as they appear. Finally there are revelations about Snape that come to a satisfying conclusion, including a cool flashback that takes us back where we learn things we never knew we never knew. There’s plenty of action, and pretty dark stuff that is in total contrast to the first few entries of the series which were much more bright, innocent and full of wonder. And those fans will be happy to see some of their favorite Hogwarts characters return as the first part of this entry didn’t take a single step into their favorite wizarding school, because Harry was too busy hiding out in the woods. This time it’s all about business and death. Lots of death. Who will live and who will die?!

Director David Yates, who worked on the past few entries, makes “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” work as a good conclusion, save for a slightly corny epilogue, to this disturbingly popular series. Fans will most likely rejoice and see it ten more times. And even non-fans like me, who simply enjoy the films for what they are and nothing more, will be satisfied as well. It’s a fun adventure with many great scenes - I loved Hermione disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) as they attempt to break into her vault in Gringotts to find a horcrux - and even momentum to make even the most ardent non-magic fan at least somewhat entertained. Sure there are parts that went over my head and I didn’t become emotionally attached to these wizards and witches whatsoever, but it’s a fulfilling finale nonetheless. GRADE: B

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