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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (PG-13)

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Length: 130 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Age Appropriate for: 13+. J.K. Rowling’s novels got steadily more intense and mature as they were released to match the characters’ growth, and with this final film centered on the Battle of Hogwarts, there’s a bunch of violence involved. Characters are burned, shattered apart and in many other ways killed; there’s a gory scene involving a giant snake, rows of bloody corpses and much-adored characters who pass away. Those elements, and the film’s emotional toll, may be too much for younger viewers, unless they’ve already read the books and know what to expect.

Been looking to snatch up some Kleenex stock? Do it now, people. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ is finally in theaters, and in wrapping up the beloved saga of one good boy against one very bad villain, it will both shatter and swell your heart.

By Roxana Hadadi 

There’s this scene in the series premiere of “The Wire,” undoubtedly one of the best TV shows of all time, in which Baltimore detectives are discussing the daunting task of investigating a powerful drug organization in the city. Detective Kima Greggs, seasoned and practical, sarcastically calls it a war. Detective Ellis Carver, young and hungry, won’t accept that label. “Wars end,” he says — but what they’re doing, fighting an enemy so adept at hiding and transforming and regrouping itself, is more than just a black-and-white battle. It can never really be finished.

And so it seemed during much of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One,” the second-to-last installment in the “Harry Potter” film series; back in November, director David Yates and his beloved cast of Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron and Emma Watson as Hermione impressively captured the dreariness of the three friends’ quest, the unceasing sacrifices required to best nose-less baddie Lord Voldemort. Sure, there was a lot of camping, but it was a necessary buildup to the second half of J.K. Rowling’s novel and this final flick, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” an uncompromising finale that delves into our nightmares and our dreams and lays it all out there. Our heroes give everything they have, see their friends die, fight until nearly all is lost and then realize it’s still not enough. “Wars end,” Carver said on “The Wire,” but at what cost?

In “Part 2,” Yates gives us that cost. Terrifying Dementors hover over Hogwarts, wraiths out of a horrendous fairy tale, waiting to feast on happiness. Hordes of bloodthirsty Death Eaters clamor to kill their way into the school, to claim an unjust victory fueled by the blood of children. And of course, as always, there’s Voldemort himself: not entirely human, not entirely animal, but an extraordinary wizard, a maniacally chuckling psycho who gets his giggles from controlling everyone and everything in his path. If you’ve read all of Rowling’s books already, you know this — and Yates and writer Steve Kloves, who has adapted all the books but “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” for the screen, chillingly and wondrously make you feel it.

Things begin exactly where “Part 1” left off, with Harry, Ron and Hermione having just escaped torture at the hands of the Malfoys, Dobby the house elf dead, and Griphook the goblin hiding away secrets of his own, invaluable glimmers of information that again help Harry and co. create an unbelievably fantastical plan. “When have any of our plans ever actually worked?” Harry sardonically asks Hermione, and he’s right — but in “Part 2” their adventures are more dazzling than ever before.

Yates has always lent a Gothic, Tim Burton-without-the-wacky touch to the wizarding world, and integral elements of the book are transformed here into startlingly beautiful and exceptionally masterful sequences. The Battle of Hogwarts succeeds most during a scene that follows Harry, Ron and Hermione as they dash through the fighting without any dialogue; words aren’t necessary to express the danger from giants, acromantulas and wizards aiming to kill. And there’s so much to weep at: Harry’s encounter with the Resurrection Stone, the makeshift hospital ward created to mourn those lost in the battle, the last moments with Dumbledore at what we perceive as King’s Cross Station — and the heartbreaking truth about Snape, the bravest man Harry ever knew.

You can’t enjoy the “Harry Potter” movies if you expect Yates and Kloves to stick exactly to everything that happens in Rowling’s hundreds of written pages, and “Part 2” seems especially streamlined. Gone is some of the camaraderie and revelry written into the Battle of Hogwarts, those cheering crowds urging Harry on. Gone is the discussion of what really happened to Dumbledore’s little sister and why he had such a feud with brother Aberforth; Grindelwald who?

Instead the main, most definitive focus here is on the solemnity and lonely nature of Harry’s journey, the steps he must take on his own to finally avenge his parents, godfather Sirius Black and everyone who has died for him.

Numerous shots capture Harry alone, struggling internally with decisions we read Rowling describe in the novel, and Radcliffe is exceptionally strong here. That little pip of a kid we met all those years ago has grown into an extremely talented young actor, and here he captures all the sorrow and determination we know Harry to have — the weight of all humanity on such a young man’s shoulders. Grint and Watson are good, too, especially near the end of the film, when Yates focuses on the Chamber of Secrets-and-horcrux scene we didn’t explicitly experience in the novel. But as Dumbledore tells Harry, it’s his party, isn’t it? (Or perhaps it’s Alan Rickman’s; his portrayal of Snape will have you tearing up if you have any scrap of soul whatsoever.)

Either way, we’re the gifted ones. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is our final present from Rowling, Yates, Kloves, Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Rickman and everyone else who has helped transform this overwhelming tale of love, faith and loyalty into a magical (ha!) film experience, as well. “Part 2” is a cultural phenomenon regardless, of course — duh, anything even remotely attached to “Harry Potter” is — but it’s a joy, delight and undeniable pleasure to see a film so good cap off the end of an era. So far this year, and in the “Harry Potter” film series as a whole, there’s been nothing better.

Read the review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 



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