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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, John Hurt, Kelly MacDonald, Maggie Smith, Tom Felton, Warwick Davis, Jason Isaacs, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon and Gary Oldman
DIRECTED BY
David Yates
SCREENPLAY
Steven Kloves (Story/Characters by J.K. Rowling)
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
130 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Warner Brothers
DVD EXTRAS
DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack With:
Maximum Movie Mode hosted by Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and other cast members - As the epic showdown between Harry
Potter and Lord Voldemort approaches, don’t miss a single detail as the forces of Good and Evil clash one final time throughout the
grounds of Hogwarts.
• A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe - Join J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe for an exclusive conversation
about bringing the character of Harry Potter to life, the last decade of films and how their lives have changed by the fame that
they’ve both experienced.
• The Goblins of Gringotts - Hosted by Warwick Davis, you’ll see the entire process of becoming a goblin” on a Harry Potter
film, from auditions and casting to makeup and prosthetic tests as well as filming the final scenes.
• The Women of Harry Potter – A look at the remarkable women in Harry Potter’s life and the critical role they play in the
films.
• Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios Sneak Peek
• Deleted Scenes
 "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" Review 
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Harry Potter has been good for our children.

Whether you regard the Harry Potter films as amusing trifles or junior masterpieces, the simple truth is that Harry Potter has spent the last ten years casting a spell upon moviegoers young and old. With the exception of the Star Wars films, no cinematic series has truly captured the attention of our young people with such fervor and devotion as the Harry Potter films. It is for these fiercely loyal and devoted fans that this final film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, has been so lovingly constructed.

Deathly Hallows 2 is not a stand alone film. It couldn't possibly be, especially considering it is the second of two films based upon the last of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowlings. Yet, I almost pity anyone who dare try to watch and fully enjoy this final film without having seen the previous films or, perhaps, having read the books. Deathly Hallows 2 is not just the conclusion to the journey of this young wizard and that of his friends, but it is in many ways a reverent tribute to every person who has crossed his path and every lesson learned upon his way. Without fully understanding the entire journey of Harry Potter, embracing Deathly Hallows 2 is nearly impossible.

Defying the odds, this eighth film in the Harry Potter series is easily more captivating and commanding than the first. While Star Wars floundered at times, sometimes terribly so, it would seem that the Harry Potter films have only increasingly gotten better (though I may be among the minority to acknowledge preferring Deathly Hallows 1).

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is no longer a child, nor a fumbling adolescent nor even an insecure young man. Harry is a wizard who has come face-to-face with his destiny and realized what is his to do. One of many miracles of Deathly Hallows 2 is that Radcliffe couldn't have possibly created such a dramatically resonant performance when he first started in the role ten years ago. Just as Harry Potter has grown into his role, so too has Radcliffe grown into the role of Harry Potter. It is miraculous, nearly unheard of, for such a lengthy cinematic series to carry with it many of the same actors and actresses for its entire run. In reality, only real life or cinematic death has separated actors from this series and, rather surprisingly, even the production staff has remained remarkably stable.

While director David Yates, now leading his fourth Potter film, isn't necessarily a master at the visual construction of a film, he's extraordinary with actors and in this final film manages to coax maximum drama from both his classic veterans and his trio of co-leads who have grown up living in the Harry Potter Universe. Harry Potter isn't a brilliant film, but it is an extraordinary achievement.

Deathly Hallows 2 picks up, quite literally, where part 1 left off with Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) attempting to locate the horcruxes that will help them weaken and ultimately defeat Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). We know, of course, that Voldemort has stolen the Elder Wand from Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and that this wand gives its possessor enough power to rule all. There's no doubting that the good majority of folks who will rush into the waiting line on opening weekend will have already read from cover-to-cover the Harry Potter books. They will be in line to see if David Yates has once again remained faithful to the series, but more importantly because Harry Potter has, unlike nearly any book or film aimed at children and youth in recent decades, captivated their attention and cultivated their imaginations.

Much as is found in the Lord of the Rings films, Harry Potter has always been a not so thinly veiled morality play about good vs. evil, the power of love and the absolute vitality of hope. There are elements, some would say outright bold statements, of faith in Harry Potter and more clearly in Deathly Hallows 2. I would argue, perhaps, that this is more a byproduct of Rowlings' devout faith in children and their capacity to change their own lives and even the world.

It is astounding to see a cast this talented in a film so immersed in technology yet still so celebrating of really fine performances. There isn't a single performer phoning it in here, and there isn't a single performer overplaying nor underplaying. While there are rather shameful wastes this time around, most notably the one-liner appearance of Emma Thompson and the far too brief turn by the wondrous Jim Broadbent, it is far more the rule that each actor is offered a moment to shine brightly such as Warwick Davis as Griphook being interrogated early on by Harry followed almost immediately by the extraordinary John Hurt taking one magnificent scene and literally owning it with focus and elocution and remarkable intentionality.

To even begin to cover what unfolds in this final chapter of the Harry Potter saga seems both irrelevant and a tad unfair. If, like me, you've only seen the films and never read the books, then it would be completely and utterly unfair to spoil it for you. Much has been made of the fact that there is a much higher death count in Deathly Hallows 2, and this is most definitely true. Yet, this time around it must also be said that Radcliffe, Watson and Grint have really brought such depth to the humanity of their characters that even with a significant increase in the action from the more thoughtful, slow-paced previous film this film still offers more emotional resonance. Deathly Hallows 2 serves up heart, quite a bit more genuine humor, awesome special effects and captivating, if at times anticlimactic, battle sequences.

There are so many moments, big and small, that leave you breathless here...

Alan Rickman's stunning, even award-worthy, performance as Snapes, a minion of Voldemort yet so much more...

Maggie Smith sweeping in and alongside her deserving young pupil as he and his fellow young wizards fight to protect Hogwarts from Voldemort, the Death Eaters and the seemingly universal flames...

Matthew Lewis, as Neville Longbottom, long a laughing stock yet always a hero waiting to be born...

Helena Bonham Carter, as Bellatrix, especially in one scene where she's playing Hermione playing her and doing so brilliantly...

The list simply goes on and on and on...

Eduardo Serra's camera work is, once again, quite exceptional while Alexandre Desplat's original score majestically weaves together little moments from previous films into a finale that is simply unforgettable. Stuart Craig's production design ups the ante without losing the film's small moments of humanity.

There is, of course, the question of the film's post-production 3-D conversion. A surprising decision, yet obviously corporate decision, the 3-D is utterly necessary given the significant use of darkness in the film and how 3-D actually serves to only convolute the images. While the conversion is vastly superior to recent failures such as The Last Airbender and Clash of the Titans, it is still an unnecessary add-on and an unnecessary expense for families.

There you have it.

It's doubtful that the Harry Potter films will ever be consider cinematic greats, yet they are unquestionably going to be treasured for years to come by children, adults and families seeking ways to spend time with one another. Whereas so many writers and filmmakers prefer distraction and destruction over intelligence and imagination, J.K. Rowling created a world in which children were able to grow into the loving, compassionate, strong, create and empowered human beings they were destined to become.

The real miracle? Hollywood didn't ruin it.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic


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