Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

Director:  David Yates
Cast:  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman
Plot:  The final chapter begins as Harry, Ron, and Hermione continue their quest of finding and destroying the Dark Lord's three remaining Horcruxes.

Genre:  Adventure / Drama / Fantasy
Awards:  Nom. for 3 Oscars - Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects.
Runtime:  130min
Rating:  PG for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.

“Do not pity the dead, Harry.  Pity the living and above all, those who live without love.”

This is it.  The very last 'Harry Potter' film, unless J. K. Rowling has a nostalgic change of heart.  The Deathly Hallows Part II continues smoothly from Part I (2010) into the epic finale that many of us have been waiting for.  There are twists and turns to the plot giving excellent insight into the back stories of several of the film’s characters, in particular Severus Snape (Alan Rickman).

While Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and gang try to outwit the forces of evil that continue to pursue them, it is his it-ends-here-and-now duel with the franchise’s arch-villain, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), that is most highly anticipated.

David Yates, who took over directorial duties back in 2007 for The Order of the Phoenix, delivers his best film of the franchise to date, though it is not the best film overall as that belongs to Alfonso Cuaron’s The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) in my opinion.

Yates nails the action in The Deathly Hallows Part II with some exciting wide shots and excellent editing, though the film is far less suspenseful than its previous installment.  The splendid use of CG effects integrates well with the film’s dark visual template; they never seem gimmicky and overdone and appear to be consistent with the Potterverse that we know.

The adapted screenplay by Steve Kloves, who wrote all but one of the installments, will be keenly appreciated by filmgoers who have not read the source material (like myself).  They are likely to find it straightforward and accessible, though I suspect fans who pray to their Potter books every night may feel slightly disappointed by the treatment of the story or some of their favourite characters.

The acting is still dominated by veterans Rickman and Fiennes.  Despite this, I feel that the trio of Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are still remarkably watchable not because their acting is superb, but because we never get tired of them.

I also wish to credit Yates for not indulging in a lengthy all-wands-blazing battle between Harry and Voldemort that could have so easily fizzled out.  He smartly paces it with drama and dialogue, sometimes alternating locations to break the monotony of the action. In particular, a scene with Dumbledore and Harry (Michael Gambon) in an otherworldly place is handled quite beautifully.

Perhaps from a cinematic standpoint, the best aspect of the Harry Potter franchise is not its great story or colourful characters per se, but its quite brilliant cinematography and art direction that give the story and characters an artistic platform to excel.

The Deathly Hallows Part II completes the franchise adequately, never in spectacular fashion, but most certainly satisfyingly.  The parting of ways would be especially emotional for fans, but for the rest of us, even though it may not strike a heart-rendering chord, there is no doubt that watching the Harry Potter films over the last decade have in some way or another brought us closer to our loved ones and friends.  It is those treasured memories that are priceless, and it is this final film that brings a close to that small but valuable chapter of our lives.  Adios.


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