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.
Oscar voters aren’t easy to please. Even Harry Potter, Hollywood’s famous boy wizard, has failed to cast his spell over these gatekeepers to win an Academy Award.
Fans hope to see that change with the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the epic finale to the highest-earning movie franchise in Hollywood history.
“I’m just like any other Potter fan,” said Tracy Cameron, a 28-year-old teaching assistant in St. Catharines, Ont.
Like millions of Potter fans, Cameron grew up on J.K. Rowling’s books about a lonely young wizard who comes into his own. She also reread Rowling’s books many times.
Like other fans, Cameron worried that Warner Bros.’ film franchise would fail to capture the magic of Rowling’s saga. Those worries faded after Cameron saw “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” the film that launched the Potter series in 2001.
“The films exceeded all my expectations,” said Cameron.
“I just don’t understand why the Oscars haven’t given these movies their due.”
Cameron isn’t the only one pondering that mystery.
In January 2011, veteran actor Richard Griffiths, who played Harry’s uncle Vernon Dursley, told reporters that he believed “something is going on.”
Other than a few nods in the technical, costume, and music categories, the Oscars have never given the Potter movies a crack at the Academy’s acting, directing and best picture prizes.
“It’s sad it’s only technical awards and not artistic ones it has received,” the 63-year-old Griffiths said earlier this year.
“It’s the biggest movie phenomenon on the planet. I remember when ‘ET’ was the highest earning movie all time — $870 million. With Harry Potter, you’re talking “$6 billion,” said the Tony and Laurence Olivier Award-winner.
The Oscar snub is perplexing.
To date the Potter franchise has earned US$6.3 billion worldwide.
It’s proven that a children’s fantasy could hold its own against adult franchises like “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars.”
The instant recognition of the Potter films’ first, memorable musical notes was seconded only by “Jaws.”
The Potter movies also helped put Harry’s iconic glasses into Hollywood’s history books, giving them as much cultural significance as Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from the “Wizard of Oz.”
Yet, Oscar voters remained unimpressed.
That’s not surprising, says Canada AM movie critic, Richard Crouse.
‘Deathly Hallows 2′ no lucky charm
“Historically, these kinds of kids’ or genre films have never been big Oscar winners. Voters have never felt they were deserving of an Academy Award,” said Crouse.
“It’s not to say that ‘Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ isn’t worthy of an Oscar nomination. But I don’t think we’ll see any acting or directing nods this year for the Potter gang,” said Crouse.
But “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” could surprise everyone in 2012. In fact, the sentimentality over the end of the Potter era in Hollywood could influence Oscar voters in favourable ways.
“It’s possible, but it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Gregg Kilday, the film editor for The Hollywood Reporter, told CTVNews.ca.
“The early reviews for ‘Deathly Hallows 2′ have been solid. But I doubt that we’ll be seeing David Yates nab a nomination for best director in 2012,” said Kilday.
“Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and other established directors could be vying for Oscar gold next year. Yates doesn’t have the reputation to take these guys on,” he said.
It’s also unlikely that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint will score any nominations in the best acting categories.
“The problem with the Potter films is that they came into being with a group of young actors who never had the stature to grab Oscar voters,” said Kilday.
As well, the older stars showcased in the Potter franchise, including Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and the late Richard Harris, were never on screen long enough to grab voters’ attention.
“If any actors stand a chance for an Oscar nomination in 2012 it’ll be Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes,” said Kilday.
“They’ll have to muster up a lot of magic to pull it off,” Kilday said, with a laugh.
“But these guys have the acting chops and the Hollywood stature to stand a fighting chance.”