The End. Seriously.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (July 15, 2011)     4/5

Directed by David Yates (Warner Bros. Pictures)

There has been no greater example of movie magic than that which began an entire decade ago, when an eleven-year-old boy learned that he was indeed, a wizard.  And now here it is.  The end.  It is sad that good things must come to an end, but as exemplified by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, it is a fact of life that we must all face.  In the thrilling, emotional, and meticulously crafted conclusion to the Harry Potter series, many story elements are implied, rather than thoroughly explained as they were in J.K. Rowling’s novel.  But the fact remains that the Harry Potter series was as much about storytelling as it was the growth of its young characters, who as they approach adulthood, must face their fates and become the future of this dark world.  That is the theme which most heavily dwells upon the conclusion to the world-renowned, billion-dollar franchise, and what ultimately makes for a satisfying, tear-jerking conclusion.

Resuming directly from where the slowly-paced, atmospheric Part 1 left off, Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint), and Hermione (Watson) are on their quest to find the remaining pieces of Voldemort’s soul, called Horcruxes, which they must destroy in order to defeat the Dark Lord and restore peace to the wizarding world.  This will eventually lead them back into the halls of Hogwarts, where Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is now headmaster.  Meanwhile, the Death Eaters, Voldemort’s followers, have taken control of the Ministry of Magic and plan to launch an assault on the school, where Voldemort plans to finally murder “the boy who lived,” and Harry Potter must finally confront his destiny.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, meaning you haven’t followed the movies or the books, then it is likely that you won’t understand a word of Deathly Hallows – Part 2.  But trust me, it would be infinitely rewarding to catch up.  Followers of only the films will likely have an even better experience with the finale.  Although it may be difficult for them to follow in a few spots (as is the case with many in the series), it leaves out a few details captured in the novels that the “moviegoers only” group will not recognize.  Meanwhile, hardcore fans may be slightly frustrated.  These details are not essential, but they would have provided clarification to quite a few plot points.  Another flaw of the film is its lack of emotional peak in quite a few game-changing scenes, although maybe it is a relief that Part 2 doesn’t dissolve into melodrama, instead letting viewers sort out their own feelings about The End, and in a way, how this series has affected them.  However, it is important to know that these complaints are strictly fan-based.  I know because I am a fan.  And when one loves a series like many love Harry Potter, it is very difficult to separate fanboy feelings from the true merits of such a film.  But I have come to realize over a decade that they are more similar than I could have imagined.

After watching Harry grow from an eleven-year-old boy into a brave young man, and those cute kids into these fine young actors, it is impossible not to be moved and enamored by their journey.  And to compliment this transition, thank God the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 provides a conclusion that is cohesive, mature, and reflective.   The series has progressed with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and as a result, the films have become art.  In this final chapter, the visual effects are awe-inspiring, the cinematography by Eduardo Serra is dark and beautiful, and the score by Oscar-winning Alexandre Desplat provides a full-montage of the music we have now learned to call classic.  Although it may divide some fans, there is no denying that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a fitting end.  I might protest that the film should’ve been longer, which studio executives would likely find shocking, considering how much effort they place on cutting down the runtimes of films.  But for the conclusion of the world’s most popular fantasy epic, why not go firing on all cylinders?  Why not add a few more scenes that would flesh out the story and clarify character development?  The answer is because within the film’s “slim,” two hour and ten-minute running time, it is all there…as audience members, it is simply our duty to find it.  The details will become more clear the second time we listen to Steve Klove’s precise, rapidly-paced screenplay, and the development we so desperately seek is written all over our beloved characters’ faces.

The acting here is beyond solid.  As we have come to expect from the Harry Potter series, it is exquisite.  All of this, when concocted into its rightful cauldron, becomes quite a unique and touching experience.  There is a scene in the film where Harry walks into the Great Hall after doing something extraordinary, and he looks around to see his classmates, teachers, and friends casually walking about.  Some are morbidly injured.  Others have already died.  Several years earlier, Harry would walk into the Great Hall for the first time and be marveled by what he would see.  With a leaping smile upon his face, Harry would be a celebrity.  But now he is just like everyone else.  On the night where most of Part 2 takes place, everyone who Harry has come to call family must face their fears, battle adversity, and do what is right in the face of evil, just as he.  His loved ones may not have lightning-bolt scars, but they must also face the lives ahead of them, wherever they may lead.  If nothing else, Harry Potter is a coming-of-age story, and the character himself, a metaphor for the human experience.  When J.K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I doubt she realized what she was creating.  A parable for the magic of growing up, and the ability within all of us to confront the journey we all must share.  We may die alone, but love, the most relatable magic of all, remains with us the entire way.  It is the people around us who ultimately shape our destinies.  Luckily for Harry Potter, he has an entire castle-full.

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