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

“It All Ends” is the tag line to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

No more Harry, Ron and Hermione. No more Neville. No more Hogwarts. Now, they just live on in our memories. I once told a friend I was about to start watching the AMC show, Breaking Bad. He said. “I envy you. I can’t have that experience of it being new again.” And with the end of this franchise, now I know what he means.

I loved everything about this franchise. Even the shaky beginning that had Chris Columbus at the helm, this is a franchise that may never be matched.

Throughout the series, we’ve watched Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson mature into some of the finest young actors around. I can only imagine the executives at Warner Brothers breathed a huge sigh of relief when they realized what a treasure they had.

But, they also had some help working alongside of Richard Harris (the original Dumbledore before his death), Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman… the list goes on. Imagine working 10 years straight with some of the best actors alive?

The film starts right where the first part left off: Voldemort (I’m allowed to say his name out loud now, right?) has the Elder Wand as Harry grieves by the seaside grave of the Dobby the Elf. From the opening credits to the end, the film doesn’t let up.

Harry, Ron and Hermione still need to find the remaining horcruxes which contain pieces of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul. First, they break into Gringotts a vault, not an easy task since it’s virtually impossible to get into under normal circumstances. Then, realizing where and what the final horcrux is (or is it?), they must return to Hogwarts.
The school, which is now run by Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) and wasn’t in Part One at all, is now a gloomy shadow of itself, with Voldermort’s Death Eaters looming outside the campus monitoring all the comings-and-goings of the students.

Once inside the school, all hell breaks loose. And it is epic.

Yeah, I said it. Epic.

If you read the books, you will know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you’re in for a ride. A wonderful, heart-wrenching ride.

Director David Yates returns for the third time and it’s clear he was the right guy for the job. The film is pretty much non-stop action but he manages to give each character their spotlight. Watching Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) come into his own – both the character and the actor – was a huge thrill. And one of my favorite parts of the film was Maggie Smith’s Minerva McGonagall. She packs an emotional punch throughout the film creating some of the more memorable moments as Hogwarts comes under attack. Her line, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell” after she sics rock-like guardians to help the school is probably one of the funniest of the entire film. Rickman’s final bow as Snape is so satisfying that it makes me want to go back and re-watch the previous films just to see if I can gather any clues he inserted into his performance.

But without a doubt, this remains Daniel Radcliffe’s film. It all comes down to caring for Harry here – and in the series – and for the last 10 years we’ve done that. We know he’s going to prevail. We know he’s going to make everything right. But, dammit, we’re still squirming in our theater seats during the final battle where Radcliffe more than stands his own against Fiennes.

Goodbye Harry. It was a great run and I’m sad to see you and the gang go.

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