Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Starring all those kids we’ve watched grow up over past decade
To be fair, I’ve liked the Harry Potter films—but I wouldn’t say I loved them. We had a good time and spent many hours in each other’s company. I’d be more than willing to buy the Harry Potter films dinner and hope for a sweaty roll around. Hell, I might even spend the night and have coffee in the morning, but I won’t be proposing anytime soon.
There’s never been a long-term commitment here. I’ve taken this long, strange 20-hour plus journey through the wizardry world of Harry Potter, so I want to know how the story wraps up. The good news is, it wraps up pretty well. There’s bad news, too, but we’ll get to that a little later.
This is by far the most fast-paced film in the series. After five minutes playing catch-up, we’re diving off a cliff, head first into some massively awesome action sequences. The story picks up right where “Part 1” left off: Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) are trying to stop the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) from blanketing the world in darkness. They have to destroy some enchanted items that house fragments of his dark soul. By destroying these “Horcruxes,” they can finally defeat the ultimate evil. This puts the characters somewhere they haven’t been before: in a race against time. Let me be the first to say, “Thank God!”
My problem with this franchise has never been the story, the characters or its fantastical elements. My gripe is that nothing ever happens. Every movie is basically a mystery, which has to be solved over the course of a school year. Eventually, the mystery is solved, but it leads to an even larger mystery, which has been teased for a decade. “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is one gigantic money shot. Damn, if they don’t throw everything at us, too: explosions, death, war, a giant dragon, more death, ghosts and Armageddon. It felt quite gratifying to finally get answers. Most of what I take issue with is watching a movie that tries to cram seven films worth of answers into one reel.
It is great to see so many characters get validation. Over the last three or four films, I’ve been far more interested in characters like Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), two seemingly evil and conflicted characters. Thankfully, a lot of the secondary characters get an opportunity for conclusions, albeit brief. There’s so much to like about this movie, and at the same time I was left wanting more—though, not always in a good way. The ending is so quick—like, lightning fast. By the time the evil Voldemort is dispatched, we get two minutes where Harry channels Peter Parker with his speech about power and responsibility, and then a quick cut to the characters a few decades later taking their kids to the train where their Hogwarts adventures await.
It’s not a bad ending—just brief. After 20 hours with these characters, and after two hours of watching so many of them suffer, die and finally win, I wanted a little more time. A seven-minute epilogue might work in a two-hour movie, but this didn’t feel like an adequate send-off for this epic. Would an extra 10 minutes have been that difficult? Could we have a few moments with these characters in celebration or remorse for fallen friends?
I’ve heard some people make fun of the “Lord of the Rings” films for the 20 minutes of multiple endings. Personally, I would take a little extra effort to the epilogue than a rush job to wrap up the story.
Still, there is so much about the finale that works. There is a sense of awe and dread that permeates every frame. The gloves come off, and there is a feeling throughout that any of the characters were expendable and that at any moment evil could prevail. It’s the one thing I give the films a lot of credit for: Harry’s demise seemed almost like a foregone conclusion. There are so many movies that do a piss-poor job of making the villains feel unremarkable, where the dark side seems nothing more than another hurdle for the characters to jump. Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters are a force with which to be reckoned. Their eventual defeat feels a little hollow since the characters sacrificed so much to live in a world without evil which we never really get to see.
Yet, so much works in “Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” It’s fascinating to watch this marvelous world, which a handful of filmmakers created, get leveled. There’s a moment in that I genuinely loved: After narrowly escaping decimation, Harry decides to take a direct approach. He gets scolded by Hermione for not having a plan, and Harry replies, “When have our plans ever worked?” He explains what we’ve always known: Their plans were useless because they all boiled down to inevitable, violent confrontation. “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is exactly that—and a two-hour, go-for-broke, entertaining summer blockbuster.