Cinematically, it began a decade ago. Eight films and three hundred billion-fazillion dollars later, the epic conclusion to the mysterious world of muggles and magicians has arrived. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a relatively solemn and exposition-heavy conclusion to the series that was once so lighthearted and blissfully unaware of the real dangers that lurked in the shadows of Hogwarts. The kids grew up. So, too, did its audience. Voldemort became stronger. So, too, did the Potter franchise. Darkness prevailed the land. Madness became merchandise.
Until now. It all (hopefully) ends with this the final installment in the series.
Dark is the look of this film; it bleeds through each frame with dramatic contrast to what went before in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The two worlds don’t even look or feel the same anymore. Indeed, havoc has brought gothic ruin to landscape of Harry Potter’s world. While I won’t give details away in the narrative behind the showdown between Voldemort and Potter, know that Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have adapted the material to give closure (albeit sometimes off-screen in a disappointing manner) to what can only be described as a witchy family reunion of sorts. Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Ollivander (John Hurt), Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs), Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), Prof. Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Sybill Trelawney (Emma Thompson) and Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) all return in the final showdown between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), Ron (Rupert Grint) and the dark tidings of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
The cast reads like a living and breathing list of Who’s Who Among British Actors. It’s such a stellar cast that if you never were a part of the Potter royalty and you’re a British actor, I would feel sleighted and even pissed for not being included. The kids, Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint, are all grown up and still they are conquered by the adult talent that surrounds them. To be fair, their characters aren’t nearly as cool as say Bellatrix Lestrange or Sirius Black, but they are simply dominated all throughout this by the British royalty of actors and actresses that simply has to stand next to them to provide a fair amount of upstaging. Sometimes the material doesn’t give them a chance to break from their sneaking about ways, but mostly it’s the power of the cast that swells against them. It’s no secret that powerful performances from Rickman and Fiennes steal this movie out from under their feet; the youngsters don’t have a chance against those two titans.
I am not the biggest fan of the series (which I still argue has gradually gone downhill since the fourth entry), but Yates has assembled a conclusion that should satisfy everyone on some level. It isn’t a film in and of itself and still has a tremendous amount of back-story to tell that Part One couldn’t (what the hell?), but when it settles into the explosions and destruction and wages its 10-years-in-the-making-war against Voldemort the film finally comes alive. It isn’t mindless which is good, but sometimes it trades its momentum for book-servicing facts and loses focus. Again, large parts are too mannered and reserved for its extended two-part performance but when it works, while some of the young cast stumbles with their performances, it offers one hero - Matthew Lewis' Neville Longbottom – the chance to emerge as something more than comic relief. Moments like that are marvelous.
Eduardo Serra's cinematography, first established in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, continues to merge real world settings with fantastical landscapes and the affect is darkly pleasing if not a bit confusing at times. When did the school relocate (again?) and place itself next to such dramatic and towering heights? I guess the question of placement and logic doesn’t matter as Serra’s camera toys more with destruction than in painting portraits this time out. And, man, do things ever blow up.
While Part Two is still a love letter to the faithful fans of the books and the rest are challenged to place context where they can, the hour long battle between good and evil is satisfying for the casual observer. Of course, they’ve stretched the material (due to the halving of the films) so, once again, mounting tension is broken with extended exposition and the movie (which doesn’t establish an identity outside of the book [which is why I like director Alfonso Cuarón’s The Prisoner of Azkaban so much]) suffers as a result. There’s also one too many explanations of Harry-Will-Kill-Voldemort-This-Way that, with little to their introduction, just get sillier as they continue.
It isn’t the best film of the series and provides no rationale to its Part One/Part Two structure (other than to milk more money from those damn foolish muggles) and even if the 3D is worthless (too damn dark to dimensionize anything), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two is an agreeable (warts and all) concluding statement to a pretty remarkable legacy. Some grew up with Potter, some just tolerated him. Regardless, Yates’ film is the only conclusion to the world of magic and Elder Wands either example will ever get.
Until Warner Bros reboots it.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.
Writer: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe; Ralph Fiennes; Rupert Grint; Emma Watson
Genre: Action | Adventure | Drama | Fantasy | Mystery
Memorable Movie Quote: "Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries. Protect us!"
Tagline: It all ends.
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: July 15, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date: November 11, 2011
Plot Synopsis: With three of Voldemort's six horcruxes destroyed, Harry, Ron and Hermione must find the rest. One of them is a fabled Cup that once belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, one of the founders of Hogwarts, but the other two remain mysteries. They deduce both Gringotts and Hogwarts are likely hiding places, but will the mystical yet real Deathly Hallows prove to be a crucial part in the unfolding of events? Lord Voldemort has gained possession of the all-powerful Elder Wand, strengthening him further, but who really is its true master? Did the fateful events of 16 years ago have even more impact than Harry thought? All of these questions must be answered for ultimate Battle of Hogwarts, where the final showdown between Harry and the Dark Lord will determine the fate of both the wizarding and muggle worlds for the rest of eternity.
Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley continue their search for Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, which ultimately leads up to an epic battle at Hogwarts.
No blu-ray/DVD details available
Available on Blu-ray - November 11, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live; Blu-ray 3D
Playback: Region Free
Even darker than Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer holds its own with its grim palette and dark shadows. The colors are stylistically drained, yet the bolts and bursts of magic are wonderful blasts of color and light. Even the wondrous look at the past comes across with a glorious hue of dazzling color. To be expected, the skin tones are pale and cold and provide a nice ghostly match with the darker than dark shadows that permeate the picture. Detail is fine, but sometimes hard to make out considering the inky blacks that anchor the picture. The hard-hitting DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is an audiophile’s wet dream. Windows rattle, the floorboards bump, and every nuance is handled with capable skill from the track.
- File this one under the Maximum Movie Mode as host Matthew Lewis and other cast members guide you through a wondrous picture-in-picture commentary. It provides numerous interviews, thorough behind-the-scenes looks, deeper looks at the FX, and featurettes that cover the design, the production, and the art of the final movie.
From the touching farewell from the cast to the organized look at the production featurettes, the supplemental material is brimming with delicious information of the Harry Potter for its fans. Clocking in at nearly an hour is the conversation between Radcliffe and Rowling. It’s easily the best of the package and of any release from the series. It’s cheery and bright and it is beyond obvious that these two titans have tremendous respect for each other. Also included is a brief list of deleted scenes that include the titles: "Shell Cottage," "Grave on the Beach," "Hog's Head," "Marble Staircase: Harry & Ginny," "Wooden Bridge," "Hogwart's Battlements," "Slytherin Dungeons" and "Marble Staircase: Ron & Hermione." Also of interest is a long-time coming featurette that focuses on the strong women of the Potter world.
- Focus Points (26 min)
- Final Farewells (3 min)
- Deleted Scenes (7 min)
- A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe (53 min)
- The Women of Harry Potter (23 min)
- The Goblins of Gringotts (11 min)
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour London (2 min)
- Pottermore (1 min)