Thursday, July 21, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

This is the first blockbuster movie this summer that I can say I really liked.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 provides satisfying closure to the Harry Potter Series, the seven novels and eight movies. The movie starts right at the end of Hallows, Part 1 with no backfill, which is fine, and the three or so viewers in the world who walk into the theater not having read the books or seen the movies will just have to deal with it.

Here are three reasons why the movie is a fitting ending to the Harry Potter series:
  1. The panorama effect: Hallows 2 subtly provides perspective. The novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Philosopher's Stone in the UK) was published fourteen years ago in 1997. The movie provides visual flashbacks of the principal actors from those years--from the movies--and those younger faces emphasize the journey that Rowling's novels and the movies have taken us on--from children's movies to the showdown between good and evil.
  2. The special effects: The movie magic does not overshadow the storyline's magic--rather, it enhances. We see lots of epic magic in this concluding movie, but the visual effects never leave the story behind and just become ooohh and awwww moments for themselves. I wish the same could be said for Transformers 3
  3. Voldemort comes out of the closet: Lord Voldemort is a presence in all the books and movies, but in Hallows 2 he becomes more than a lurking presence or a fleeting figure with a few lines. Scripting, directing, and the acting for Voldemort had to be spot-on, or he would be seen as unbelievably two-dimensional or as buffoonish. And all I can say is "Great job!" Actor Ralph Fiennes creates a character that is both powerful evil sorcerer Lord Voldemort and also Tom Riddle, the incomplete personality that crows and preens before his follows at his moment of triumph. Giving full, three dimensional presence to Voldemort's character validates Harry Potter's epic struggle--and also the audience's journey through seven books and eight movies. (I have to add that Alan Rickman as Professor Snape provides a character with truly poignant dimensions--a loving, embittered, complex individual.)
The "19 Years Later" ending was somewhat funny in the novel and even brought a chuckle from someone in the audience in the cinema. It's OK, though--the epic adventure must return to everyday life, according to archetypal story patterns, and what better way than introducing the next generation.

Who knows? Maybe Rowling will take up an unbelievably large challenge and go for a Harry Potter, Jr., series! That would be one brave writer.


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