Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
dir. David Yates
Release Date: Jul 15, 11
“It all ends.” That’s been the tagline for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ever since the first half of the saga’s final installment was released last November. And now, so it has. Luckily, it’s with quite a bang, and nary a whimper to be found.
The film picks up exactly where the first half left off, with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) obtaining the Elder Wand, a source of power so untouchable that even Hogwarts castle, once a whimsical place of magic and now a battlefield, cannot be spared. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) return to the castle to wage their final battle and destroy the remaining Horcruxes (pieces of Voldemort’s soul) before even more death and ruin can follow.
As the above would suggest, this is very much a somber affair for much of the running time (a surprisingly lean 130 minutes). The battle, like any great ideological war, is not without bloodshed, and director David Yates does a good job for the most part of treating the deaths of beloved characters, no matter how peripheral, with as much gravity as he can fit in context. Obviously, some resonance is lost without J.K. Rowling’s rich character textures (there’s a sequence in a makeshift infirmary that quickly glimpses some significant character deaths without much aplomb), but in the context of the films, Yates does the best he can.
Since the first Hallows was a lot of setup, Part 2 is all action for the most part. Yates shows restraint in not diving forth in medias res, but the action picks up before long, and among the treats are a wild escape from Gringotts, the goblin-run wizarding bank and the battle at (and for) Hogwarts, which fills the vast majority of the runtime. The big showdown between Harry and Voldemort adds a few flourishes for action’s sake, but still ends with a duel of powers, and there’s a sequence in a washed-out train station that is both frightening and genuinely moving. That’s to say nothing of how well-shot all of the above are; Eduardo Serra’s cinematography is Oscar-worthy.
Deathly Hallows Part 2 is all the pomp and circumstance you’d except from the final installment of a beloved franchise, right down to a final scene that is far more effective onscreen than it was even in Rowling’s novel. It’s a fitting end for a beloved tale, one that has widely been referred to as this generation’s Star Wars, and a wistful, mature goodbye for a specific generation of fans who were 10 years old when Harry matched wits with Professor Quirrell and have followed his journey all the while. For a billion-dollar franchise to have such a soul as this one has had is simply miraculous.