Someone once said, “The trick is growing up without growing old,” and as we reach the end of the Harry Potter film cycle that saying rings true. The series has matured but not over stayed its welcome. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the eighth, and final film in the franchise is a fitting end for the Boy Wizard and friends. It’s a mature movie that puts a period on the story without being maudlin or overly sentimental.
This is the one muggles far and wide have been waiting for, the final face-off between lightening-bolt-scarred Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Elder Wand in hand the merciless leader of the Death Eaters attacks the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, bringing about a fiery showdown between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) and the dark forces who put both the Wizarding and Muggle worlds at risk.
As close to a all out action movie as there is in the Potter series Deathly Hallows puts the pedal to the metal early on, effectively using 3D in the action sequences (although not as well in the talky exposition scenes). Harry’s Horcrux hunt (say that fast three times!) takes up much of the movie leading up to some major revelations, an existential train station scene and a heartwarming conclusion, but along the way along the way it’s an exciting ride.
It’s worth it to see beloved thespian Maggie Smith engage in a fireball duel, hear Alan Rickman deliver the best evil vocal tics since Boris Karloff and watch Fiennes wave his wand with wondrous aplomb but despite the bombast this isn’t your average summer blockbuster. There are quiet moments, and the death scene of major character is played out off screen. Of course, it is made all the more horrifying because of what we don’t see, but the typical summer movie doesn’t want you to use your imagination.
Potter does. I’ve been critical in the past because I found the movies to be a bit too inside. If you haven’t read the books and aren’t familiar with the Potterverse—it’s grown to big to be called Potterworld—then you’d be lost. All the talk of Horcruxes and Death Eaters can boggle the muggle mind, but in the new film the Potter-parlance doesn’t get in the way. This time out the Sword of Gryffindor and the like are McGuffins, things that propel the story but in the end aren’t as important as the underlying themes of friendship and good versus evil.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” may be the most metaphysical summer blockbuster ever. It deals with large questions of life and death, examines what goes on in the souls of men (and evil lords) all wrapped up in the comforting Potterverse. It has been a long strange journey with its own set of rules, internal logic and kooky creatures but the Potter cinema saga ends with dignity and without cutting corners.
Probably the most satisfying film, not just in the Potter series, but of the summer so far.