“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” written by Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling (novel), directed by David Yates, 130 minutes, rated PG-13.
In the discovery of something you love, there is joy. At the end of it, there is sadness. Fans of Harry Potter, who has become a cultural icon like none other, know this more than ever, as the boy wizard’s final film hits theaters.
I remember the first time I became aware of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. It was September 1999 when I saw the animated wizard on the cover of an issue of Time sitting on the coffee table. I was 14.
There he was, illuminated by an open book, with his green eyes staring back at me behind his ridiculously round glasses, taped together in the middle, no less. He had a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, and it hardly registered with me at the time.
My initial thought was something like: “Who the hell is Harry Potter?”
Twelve years later, I know who the hell Harry Potter is. Everyone does. As Gringotts banker Griphook points out, Harry is famous even among goblins.
The second part of David Yates’ epic adaptation of J.K. Rowlings’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” picks up where the first left off. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has recovered the Elder Wand – the most powerful wand in the wizarding world. Severus Snape has usurped the role of headmaster at Hogwarts, and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is on a seek-and-destroy mission for the three remaining Horcruxes, which will level the playing field against Voldemort.
He’s joined, of course, by his dedicated friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). The three also are reluctant leaders of a resistance movement against Voldemort and his dark-arts minions. The rebels, a group largely made up of teen wizards and witches, have been beaten down hard by their oppressors. When Harry returns to Hogwarts on his quest, it is both triumphant and demoralizing, as Harry sees first-hand the condition that his friends are in.
We’ve come to know and love many of these characters, and as we see them more bruised and battered than ever before, there’s a sense of hopelessness as we watch Neville Longbottom hobble around with a bum foot, and see the cuts that cover his face.
Then there’s Snape, the most alluring “Harry Potter” character. With unwavering emotional defense in the first seven movies, “The Deathly Hallows: Part 2” answers all questions you may have had about Severus Snape. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s some of the best material in the movie, if not the entire series.
If, however, you’re seeking an epic, end-all battle of Harry vs. Valdemort, look no further. There are plenty of megasized action scenes to occupy your eyes, and enough physical heroics to make you want to applaud, but the most thrilling moments come from Harry and Voldemort’s attempts to outwit one another.
It’s a game of chess between the two, and Yates knows it. But chess can’t be won without losing a few pieces. For “Harry Potter” fans, it’s a pity. The franchise should take pride in having built such a strong connection with the audience and its characters, and certainly some fans will shed a few tears for the losses here.
When the screen fades to black, and the credits begin to roll, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is bittersweet. That’s just the way endings are.
Then again, it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to call “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” an end. Generations far beyond mine will discover what Time referred to as “The Magic of Harry Potter.” And they’ll obsess about it, just as we have.
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