'Harry Potter' Finale

Review: “Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″

It’s over. After 10 years, eight movies, billions of dollars and countless numbers of poorly-executed Halloween costumes the Harry Potter series comes to a close with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

As a singular effort wrapping up an entire franchise “HPATDHP2” can’t help but be a tad anti-climactic, but it is a wholly-satisfying finale to what is unquestionably the greatest coming-of-age saga ever committed to film.

Not only have we watched the young cast, headed by the trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, traverse puberty before our very eyes, we’ve also seen them evolve into fine actors along the way. “HPATDHP2” is a tricky little movie because not only does it have to stand on its own, it also has to answer questions that have been floating around for roughly a decade.

What quickly becomes apparent is that while some elements from the previous films certainly come into play, none of the horcruxes, do-dads or whats-its our heroes have been chasing around all this time really matter. As far at the plot is concerned, this is a very traditional good-guy vs. bad-guy showdown as Harry faces off against ultimate baddie Voldemort (still brilliantly played by Ralph Fiennes).

Plus there aren’t really any major character developments aside from the heroic emergence of dopey, little Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and the ultimate revelation of the motivations of Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, who for my money has been the most consistently outstanding performer in the series).

But really, the “Harry Potter” films are more about the journey than the destination and even though the narrative structure running through these films reveals itself to be loose and meandering when seen from start to completion, it still proves to be one heck of a ride.

So much of the joy of all the movies as been seeing the magic of the wizardly world realized and applied in exciting and compelling ways. There is plenty of that to be sure in “HPATDHP2” to the point that even the wonderful Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall reacts with awe when she conjures to life the statuary surrounding Hogwarts, saying “I’ve always wanted to use that spell.”

There are some nits to pick as several resolutions in the massive plot get hustled past for the sake of time, including the demise of some beloved supporting characters. But director David Yates (who has directed the last four “Harry Potter” films) does a serviceable job of finding the appropriate emotional beats in the sensory-assaulting, action-heavy plot.

I have to admit that following the climactic battle of “HPATDHP2” I was choking back some pangs of disappointment as I though to myself “did we really need eight movies to tell this story?” Then along came a poignant little epilogue that washed any letdown away.

In a scene that could have easily been cheesy or overplayed, we get some nice, inconsequential moments that illustrate why the world is worth saving and how all of us have endured our own trials and tribulations that have shaped us into the people we are today.

Granted maybe your trials and tribulations couldn’t fill eight movies, but we all can’t be heroic boy-wizards, now can we?
Regardless of whatever cracks and flaws they may have, the eight “Harry Potter” films are a monumental achievement of movie-making that will be enjoyed by families for generations to come. As far as I’m concerned, that’s about as magical as it gets.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.

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