Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 15, 2011 Released by: Warner Brothers
Many viewers and avid devotees of J.K. Rowling were especially peeved over the cliffhanger of a conclusion of Harry Potter and the Death Hallows, Part 1 which had a slower, more atmospheric charge to it
Now, Part 2 is the wrap-up to the most profitable, unique adventure series to date, initially diminished in its beginning, nearly a decade ago by Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings.
Returning director David Yates and scribe Steve Kloves (who's done all but one of these films) take the ominous proceedings to the limit as the Potter material gets the mature treatment it deserves. Especially around a who's who of British thespian talent.
The connection between Harry, as Daniel Ratcliffe navigates his way physically and emotionally through a role destined for him, and the malevolently desperate nasally deficient taloned Lord Voldemort, a fine incarnate in Ralph Fiennes, finally comes to fruition.
The filmmakers spent the time for 3D formatting for this penultimate part of the final chapter after scrapping it from last year's segment to get it right. It's just the necessity to squeeze more money from viewers who like those jumping out visual jolts. Here, there are dragons and snakes and some later battles that have some noticeable effect even if discarding those dark glasses hardly won't hamper one's viewing pleasure.
In what is the shortest run-time of the eight total films, the action really intensifies to a somber, dramatic close as the image of a coveted Elder Wand (a reference to the eponymous legend) appears over the studio's logo. What started out as kid-like fantasy definitely has gotten rather heavy, especially under Yates's arguably increasingly assured watch.
It might be disorienting for some (especially newcomers to Potter, as many theaters are rolling out advance showings in tandem with Part 1). With Voldemort's Death Eaters enveloping the stately Hogwarts, the mission for wilderness-bound Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson, now enrolled in Brown University) is to locate the remaining Horcruxes (pieces of the Lord's soul), vital for our lightning-bolt scarred hero's vitality. To destroy these scattered objects these longtime friends must return to their old school now run by Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) and confront pervading powerful forces.
A thoughtfulness not always felt in earlier episodes as Ollivander (John Hurt) explains the importance of the Deathly Hallows. So, themes of fortitude, fidelity, as life and death enter the picture adds to its cinematic resonance. With a wealth of interaction from such an eventful source that Rowling has mastered, its fans might be let down a bit when it comes to identity-switching or a duel, among other potential possibilities. Yates and Kloves realize cutting to the chase of the final confrontation outweighs some tantalizing diversions, romantic pairings and an epilogue set 19 years later with new families.
This elegant final film contains some momentous set pieces with chases and escapes with in the bank vault of Bellatrix Lestrange, a wicked Helena Bonham Carter, or the Room of Requirement. Yates conducts the action convincingly, including a crucial flashback scene, as the tension mounts in an exciting last act as Harry goes at it with a chilling Voldemort. He gets refined production craftsmanship from designer Stewart Craig, lenser Eduardo Serra and composer Alexandre Desplat to propagate a desired eeriness that leads to unexpected affecting returns.
Among the large backup there are good turns by Ciaran Hinds as the venerable Albus Dumbledore's brother and Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, along with longer veterans of the series like Maggie Smith. Rickman adds considerable impact during Harry's metamorphosis as diehards and casual fans realize that this is the end. A finale that genuinely lingers in the mind afterwards like the passion of its wizened adult wizard.
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