Year: 2011
Director: David Yates
Writers: Steve Kloves (Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling)
Region of Origin: U.S., U.K.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: PG-13
Digital, 35mm, Color, 130 mins

Synopsis: The final chapter begins as Harry, Ron, and Hermione continue their quest of finding and destroying the Dark Lord’s three remaining Horcruxes, the magical items responsible for his immortality. But as the mystical Deathly Hallows are uncovered, and Voldemort finds out about their mission, the biggest battle begins and life as they know it will never be the same again. (source)

Unlike most people, I didn’t get to grow up with Harry Potter. I didn’t read the books and I never saw any of the movies, until this past week anyway. In fact, I almost saw the last movie cold. Luckily, I woke up and went back to discover the entire film series (except parts 2 and 5) to catch up, and man am I glad I did that. The HP series is unlike any other. It’s a rich coming-of-age saga, complete with endearing, real characters that you feel like you truly know.

It’s hard to review The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 because just like its predecessor it doesn’t stand alone the way the first six installments do. Technically it’s the second half of a movie, but in reality it’s the culmination of a decade’s worth of storytelling and the end of an era. With unimaginably high expectations and growing fervor from a legion of fans, how could this movie hold up?

While Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 is not the best of the series (that honor goes to Prisoner of Azkaban and Half-Blood Prince), it’s a worthy and fitting ending that plays it safe and keeps it simple. At this point, the filmmakers were not necessarily interested in gaining new fans, but giving the correct closure to the billions of those who have been there for the journey. This is perfectly okay with me, since every movie has been, for the most part, masterfully executed character-driven pieces of pop-entertainment. Where Deathly Hallows  Pt. 1 was all exposition and set up, its companion is all payoff, and not just for DH1, but for the entire series. The movie starts in almost the exact place that the last one ended, and doesn’t bother to fill in the uninitiated on the details. From beginning to end, it’s a non-stop rush of action that only pauses for emotional exposition, and if you’re part of the 1% of the population that’s never seen any of the movies (like I was), then this is still an entertaining ride, but you won’t get any of the proper emotional fulfillment out of it.

What I admire throughout all of the films that pays off here is the consistency in the world and the characters that inhabit it. The series has undoubtedly been one of the largest ensemble casts ever put together, and it was great to see lots of minimal characters get their spot to shine. For example, Snape’s mysterious motivations become crystal clear for the first time in a scene-stealing and very poignant moment that’s almost the heart of the entire movie/series for me. He is definitely one of my absolute favorite characters in the entire series, and Alan Rickman’s mysterious duality finally gets its emotional payoff. The series’ three leads Harry, Hermione and Ron are all grown up now and their respective actors Radcliffe, Watson and Grint all, for the most part, have more mature themes to tackle, which they all do quite well. Also, Ralph Fiennes, who has always been one of my favorite actors, returns as the eerily sneering Voldemort and cements the character as an unforgettable part of cinema history.

To a minor fault, the movie’s only about two hours (which is lean for an HP movie), and I wouldn’t have minded it slowing down a bit more than it did, since it does feel that some characters were a teeny bit shortchanged (Neville and Luna for example) and some of the deaths are a glossed over a bit. Again, this would have been more detrimental in any other movie, but in translating an epic series into film, you have to pick and choose what’s important for the characters and themes, and I feel they’ve succeeded in doing that here. If you were around the same age as the characters when you read the books or watched the movies, you probably went through a lot of the same trials that they did: finding your place, navigating bad haircuts and awkward teenage love, learning who your friends were and, most of all, being able to accept death as a part of life, while learning that love conquers all in the end. It sounds cheesy, but in a nutshell that’s life.

When all the dust has settled, HP survives because it’s a beautifully simple story told in a genuine way. The actors (hats off to Radcliffe, Grint and Watson), characters, and most importantly the audience, all grew up together and took part in something that, unlike most Hollywood films today, had something more than just spectacle and magic, but plenty of heart and love as well. While it may have become darker as it went on, there haven’t been any other stories of late that have chosen to define the night and day difference between good and evil as love’s presence and absence. So, though this last movie may not be as narratively fleshed out as its predecessors, it’s still the emotionally-charged, action-packed payoff that its fans deserve. Now the tale of the boy wizard and his friends is over, but it’s earned a special place in our hearts forever. Take note Hollywood, this is real magic with substance, not empty cookie-cutter spectacle.

Crome Rating: 4/5

SG