The only thing slow about Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was the line to get into the theatre.
Directed by David Yates, the eighth and final installment in the blockbuster franchise is an action-packed adventure that masterfully concludes the beloved series in a battle of epic proportions. Faster paced and more closely following the book than previous films, HPATDHP2 is a visually stunning emotional tale of duality -- life and death, good and evil, redemption and damnation.
This is the first of the eight films to utilize the widely popular 3D technology. And use it they did. The enhanced images explode from the screen, resulting in a richer, more magical atmosphere than prior films in the series. In this case, the use of 3D heightens the depth and dimension of the film, rather than detracting from it.
Opening where the last movie left off, a triumphant sneer is splayed across Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes)’s serpentine features as he desecrates Dumbledore’s grave and claims the wizarding world’s strongest tool, the Elder Wand. As Voldemort, Death Stick in hand, continues to search for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), our heroic trio resumes their pursuit for the remaining Horcruxes.
Aided by the Goblin Griphook (Warwick Davis), Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson), in the guise of Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter), visit Gringotts and endure a harrowing coaster ride that would leave even the most seasoned amusement park rider dizzy.
An amazing film with a truly stellar British cast, HPATDHP2 delivers several notable performances -- from Professor McGonagall (Dame Maggie Smith) aptly using the magic she has so devotedly taught for decades, to the lovable but bumbling Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) who, once again, stands up for what is right in the face of insurmountable odds. But it is Alan Rickman’s brilliant portrayal of Professor Snape that is one of the most poignant of the film, with a series of flashbacks that left nary a dry eye in the theatre.
The intense on-screen battle dominates roughly half the film. Leaving a trail of destruction reminiscent of a World War II blitz in their wake, Death Eaters’ smoky forms zip and buzz through the castle while giants and stone guardians face off on the front lines. With all battles, friends are lost and families are torn apart. An overwhelming sense of despair settles over our heroes as the catastrophic number of casualties is realized. Recognizing there is only one thing to do, Harry bravely becomes the martyr to enable his friends to live.
The subsequent overt religious imagery provides a striking contrast to the otherwise dark themes, as we find Harry and Dumbledore bathed in white light. God-like in appearance with cascading robes and an ethereal glow, Dumbledore counsels Harry, as he has become what many have long considered him to be -- a savior.
Setting up the final confrontation, an imprisoned Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) gently cradles Harry’s form, as Voldemort again marches on the castle -- this time to claim victory and demand fealty. Harry jumps out of Hagrid’s arms as a stunned Voldemort scrambles to regain control of the situation while protecting what is left of his fractured soul.
The film concludes with a glimpse into the future and the promise of happy tomorrows for our trio.
At times, certain scenes felt a bit rushed. Such was the case with the showdown between the fiercely protective Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) and the sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange. There were also attempts by screenwriter Steve Kloves to lighten the mood by inserting quips and comedic moments. While most worked, some did fall flat. Regardless, the resulting film is a dazzling epic that will be enjoyed by generations to come.
Harry Potter is not only the boy who lived, he is the boy who grew up before our eyes, stole our hearts, and brought J.K. Rowlings’s magical world to life.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ opens nationwide on July 15, 2011.