Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

It has been thirteen years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone hit bookshelves in the United States. In the last thirteen years the Harry Potter saga has gotten kids to read again, and its film versions have impeccably adapted J.K. Rowling's thrilling vision, as well as brought generations within families together for all to share. For example, this afternoon I went to the theatre, the 21 year old, with my 53 year old mom, and my 74 and 76 year old grandparents, and all of us were able to sit back, slip on our 3-D glasses, and watch our favorite characters just one last time. And if that is not magic, I don't know what is.

I had been avoiding seeing the film, as I was afraid it would all end too soon, or that for some reason I would be disappointed at its outcome. Well, disappointed was definitely not one of the emotions I was feeling, if anything far from it. I was overwhelmed, and I cried and cheered and as the final frame faded away I couldn't help but smile. And that is a true testament to David Yates, Streve Kloves, and the entire cast, that truly put together a wonderful film  that has everything we could hoped for. They truly did save the best for last.

The story starts off exactly where the last began, as Harry, Hermoine, and Ron set off to Gringotts to take on the next Horcrux. Their journey then takes them to Hogsmeade, and eventually Hogwarts, where all of those who had been in hiding come out with the alert that Harry is there, to defend the school they love, and protect Harry long enough so that he can finally defeat Voldemort once and for all. In the midst of the epic final battle, Harry discovers the truth about Severus Snape, sees people that he loves die, and fights to the death to defend his friends, his family, and all those who have spent the last seven years doing the same for him. I won't give away the rest of the plot for two reasons: 1) most of you have already seen it, so there's no point, 2) or there are people out there who haven't, and why give away the spoils.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is an emotional and thrilling action adventure masterpiece, that deftly combines the quiet moments of reflection with the action packed battles. This is because David Yates and Steve Kloves have respected Rowling's work, while also making proper changes and cutting out parts so that it fits perfectly on the screen. Most importantly, the previously mentioned balance was probably my biggest complaint about the last two films. There were too many talking scenes and not enough action. But for those who shared my complaint, have no worries. Yates and Kloves never skimp on the emotional moments, but provided enough action and magical happenings to satisfy us all.

But the real magic doesn't come from Yates' ability to conquer impossible material and turn it into something amazing, or the fantastic technical elements, all of which are Oscar worthy. The real magic lies in the characters that Rowling, and this stunning set of Great Britain's finest, created. The supporting players do their part, especially Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, and Helena Bonham Carter. But like Part 1, the real weight is carried by our three main protagonists, and each in their own right has matured as an actor, and they have all grown into powerful and talented adults. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson both prove they can hold their own, and I stand firm in my belief that Watson is a young talent that will be one not to miss in years to come. But the real surprise here is Radcliffe. He has been great as Harry, but always seemed to not be as good as his co-stars. But this time around he has really grown into his character, and proved, finally, that he can nail the dramatic moments with poise and emotion.

I know a lot of you are thinking, with this kind of praise, can the film finally bring the series Oscar glory? It currently has better reviews and a better grade than Inception, which won four awards last year. And knowing this is the last film, and knowing how good it is, I think the Academy may finally give the series the credit it deserves. If it doesn't, then at least legions of fans will ensure that at least it is a huge box office success.

Now, no film is perfect, except maybe The Godfather, and at first I was slightly perturbed by the way Yates chose to end the battle. But after thinking about it for a couple of hours, I think Yates knew exactly what he was doing, and in the end it comes down to simply Harry vs. Voldemort, Good vs. Evil, as it should be, so my frustration has quickly evaporated. So in the end, the hardest part about seeing this film was saying goodbye. And the epilogue scene that Rowling created and Yates brought to life was simply pitch perfect. It was quiet and happy, and most importantly, for one last time, our heroes stood side by side to tell us all goodbye. And I think I speak for an entire world when I say, they truly will be missed.

Grade: A

Oscar Potential: Picture, Director (Yates), Supporting Actor (Fiennes), Art Direction, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Visual Effects, Makeup.

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