Seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 isn’t like watching a movie; it’s like watching eight of them. The Potter franchise carries so much baggage – good and bad, but mostly good – that when you finally get to the end, it’s impossible to see the denouement as simply a two-hour entertainment.
So how does the grand finale stack up? It was better than I suspected it might be. Director David Yates, who somehow managed to remove much of the fun and magic of J.K. Rowling’s saga from the preceding three Potter films, partly redeems himself in this last chapter. The whimsy of Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets is still missing, but Yates sets a brisk pace, avoids sentimentality, and stages one hell of an assault on Hogwarts.
What tripped up last year’s Part 1 is the same kind of thing that occasionally bogs down Rowling’s novels: tedious exposition. If the books have a flaw, it’s Rowling’s obsession with silly plot points. Who really cares about the history of the Horcrux? In this last movie, Yates and longtime scenarist Steve Kloves largely dispense with Rowling’s back story, instead concentrating on the final battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort.
Normally, I rail against the over-reliance on special effects in action movies; computer graphics all too often are the movie. But in Part 2, the lengthy, elaborate confrontation between the forces of evil and our Hogwartian heroes is visually stunning.
Longtime friends are killed, long-anticipated kisses are played out in the blink of an eye, and a movie I feared might be one drawn-out yawn is instead a satisfying wrap-up to an uneven but often enchanting film series. To paraphrase someone famous, “All ends well.” Grade: B+
Director: David Yates Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham Carter, Clemence Poesy, John Hurt Release: 2011
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