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Not With A Bang, But With A Sonic Boom

Saturday, July 16, 2011

So, the end is upon us. I honestly cannot think of another movie that has caused as much hysteria as this one. I cannot think of one film that caused all my friends to drop everything, dress up, and wait in line for midnight screenings except for this one. I cannot recall a single film that had the potential to mean more to me than this one. The bomb has been dropped. The final chord has been struck. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is upon us, and with it, the end of the story that a generation grew up with. And what an ending it is! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is not only the best movie of this summer, it's the best movie of any summer that I can remember! It is a more satisfying conclusion than Return of the Jedi or Return of the King! It's better than Avatar! It's better than The Dark Knight! This is big, epic filmmaking at its most passionate, its most emotional, its most glorious! It's the finale you didn't even know you wanted. You will cry! You will cheer! And you will love EVERY! SINGLE! SECOND!!!

Three down. Four to go. The hunt continues for the final Horcruxes as Harry, Ron, and Hermione rush to put an end to Voldemort before he puts and end to them. To that end, they find themselves returning to the place where it all began; Hogwarts. By now Voldemort is wise to their plan, and thus begins the final battle for the wizarding world! As both factions meet in a head on collision, Harry must face his darkest demons and make the ultimate sacrifice if he can ever hope to defeat the evil that threatens to destroy everything he loves.

As I said in my Part 1 review, the decision to split the final book helped it that it left more than enough room to cover everything. Deathly Hallows was the richest and densest of JK Rowling's novels, and Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the most satisfying of the movies. Everything is wrapped up as well as we could have hoped, and then some. Every loose plot thread that was left dangling when Order of the Phoenix ended, when Half-Blood Prince ended, is addressed, and what we are left with is a feeling of closure seldom found in any medium. It's a mark of how well this story has been told that a solitary moment that sees three characters standing on a bridge, hands clasped, speaks volumes more than any exposition of speech could.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint all grew up and matured with these films, showing greater range and talent with each installment. They swing for the fences here, and each deliver brilliance, Radcliffe especially. He always seemed out of his element in these films, but no longer. The scene before he confronts Voldemort in the forest, where the ghosts of his dead loved ones come to him to offer comfort is one of the most heartbreakingly sad moments I've seen and Radcliffe performs it like a champ. Watson and Grint do just as well, but for the first time, Radcliffe does better.

All the veteran British actors do their part; Ralph Fiennes is now one of the iconic screen villains, and Maggie Smith returns with flying colors; but it's Alan Rickman who steals the show out from everyone's noses. As Snape, Rickman was always excellent, but this is the installment where we finally see him for who he truly is, and Rickman absolutely owns it! He was one of the first people to ever know Snape's true motivations, and because of this his performances in the previous films are that much better because of the job he does here. His big scene features some of the most honest and emotional to come out of this series.

David Yates has made something marvelous here. He takes everything that was good about all the other films and combines them into one amazing package. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is easily the best of the Harry Potter films, full to bursting with feeling, spectacle, atmosphere, and pathos. The script by Steve Kloves is quietly brilliant, finding the time in between the mayhem to show the effect the battle is having on the characters. Normally, seeing a couple stealing a kiss during a hectic display of fire and destruction is groan inducing at best. Not here though. Here, it feels absolutely real when Ginny and Harry lock lips or Ron and Hermione finally give in to their attraction to each other. You know and believe, as much as they do, that these could be their final moments together, and share in the love they have for each other as strongly as they do.

I say final moments because Yates has unleashed hell upon Hogwarts. The final battle, a good 60% of the whole movie, puts to shame anything in Transformers 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, or any of the over stuffed superhero movies that have come out this season. As chaotic as Lord of the Rings, but as beautiful as The Tree of Life, the scale and spectacle on display is something to behold and marvel at! Hogwarts, literally, comes crashing down, but it's not destruction for destruction's sake. The school was home to so many of these characters. They feel the hurt as the place is torn to pieces and are more than willing to die defending it. It's balls to the wall action, with real emotion as a groundwork. In other words: GOOD!!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a perfect finale to an astounding series. When all's said and done, you really have to applaud the ambition of the whole project. A series of films, spanning a decade, all with the same cast, where the main characters grow and mature with the people playing them.   It's a risk that paid off beautifully, and the finale is the best example of everything the series offered. It's an emotional and heartfelt ride that thrills and touches you, and when John William's epic score swells for last time in the final moments, you know that whatever you just experienced was something truly special. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a great film, and even if you have never read the books, never seen the movies, or don't get the whole Harry Potter thing, you are doing yourself a disservice by not seeing it.

Well... that's it then, I guess. I'm never one to readily break down at something, but I find it hard not to, given the circumstances. No matter how I felt about the individual Potter books or films, the fact remains that one of the single biggest elements of my childhood has now bowed out of the picture. The books were among the first I remember my parents reading to me. They were among the first I read by myself. The movies were the first ones I ever anticipated in any regard. I remember getting up on July 21st, 2007 and waiting by the door until the Amazon delivery man rang the bell and handed me the final book, after which I locked myself in my room and didn't come out until I had finished it. And I felt largely the same then as I do now. I felt elated and devastated, euphoric and miserable. I grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione; Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Snape; Lupin, Sirius, and Hagrid; Ginny, Fred, and George. I grew up at Hogwarts; on Privet Drive; at The Burrow. I learned Defense Against the Dark Arts and Potions with them, played Quidditch with them, fought Dementors and Death Eaters with them, suffered with them, loved with them! The world JK Rowling created all those many years ago on a napkin is as big a part of me as anything. And because of that, I know this. Harry Potter is, effectively, dead, but the magic is not. The magic will never die. I love you Harry, you and everything you gave me. You will be missed, but never forgotten.


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