Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2’
Guest Critic Tells Us If the End Was Worth the Wait
Friday, July 15, 2011
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
It all ends. That's right, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" (opening July 15 throughout San Diego) brings the 10-year franchise to a close.
Whether you are a fan of the Harry Potter franchise or not, no one can deny that it has been a media sensation, capturing the rapt attention of countless fans for over a decade. When novelist J.K. Rowling released "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" in 1997, no one expected the cultural zeitgeist that followed. The well-written books enchanted children and adults alike, bringing a renewed appreciation for books to a digital generation. As an educator, I watched with excitement as middle school students took a new interest in the written word, and Rowling’s tales of the boy wizard have paved the way for several good book series (like the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman), as well as some that are maybe not so good (there is a reason that the "Twilight" books are guilty pleasures, folks).
But I digress. The wildly popular book series has spawned an equally acclaimed film series, immortalizing these characters on celluloid as well as paper. The latest film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," is also the last, putting to rest a cinematic journey we started almost 10 years ago. If you haven’t kept up with the plot of these films, you probably shouldn’t start now, but I’ll fill you in anyway. Over the course of the last seven films our friend Harry Potter has been growing up, wizard style. In his six years at Hogwarts, he has done more than most of us do in a lifetime: learning to be a wizard, foiling all sorts of nefarious plots, making friends, falling in love, and, of course, trying to save the world from the evil Lord Volde- well, you-know-who. This film finds Harry facing the final showdown, and naturally all kinds of exciting hijinks ensue.
There really isn’t much to say about this installment of the franchise. If you are going to see it, you are going to see it. If not, then nothing I say is going to make you go. It is a good movie, however. The script is tight; the film comes in at a cool 130 minutes, well under the length of the "Transformers 3" debacle. As always, the impressive supporting cast does a fabulous job, and Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson have come into their own, doing a competent job with the material.
For book purists, it is important to note that there are several changes. However, all of the changes are justifiable as they help to streamline the dense subject matter. Little is left out, so you just have to check your preconceptions at the door and enjoy the film. The scoring of this film was left in the capable hands of Alexandre Desplat, and it is haunting and beautiful. I can’t think of much to complain about except the 3-D, which is useless, but at least not too obtrusive. Personally, I would recommend the 2-D version; it will save you money and make the film less dreary. The ending has some issues as well, but it isn’t bad enough to detract from the rest of the film.
But none of you care about my opinion on the matter, and that’s cool. I wouldn’t care either. I think the tone of the screening audience said it all. As the lights went down, the requisite catcalls and murmurs suddenly died down. The theater was packed, but you could have heard a pin drop. Naturally people laughed and cheered at times, but overall there was a quiet respect throughout the screening. After the film I think many of us were feeling the same thing; the satisfaction that comes from viewing a well-made movie comingled with the nostalgic sadness you feel at the end of something important.
I read a review of the last book that said how special it was to have been there on the ground floor, along for the ride as it unfolded. I think it is the same with the films in a way; the anticipation, the excitement of seeing each one on the big screen, watching cast and crew alike grow together, getting better with every passing year. I feel lucky to have been a part of that, and I know I’m not the only one.
So it’s time to say goodbye to The Boy Who Lived. It was a good ride, but it had to end sometime. Enjoy your rest Harry; you earned it. All is well.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" is rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.
-- Erika Hughes is a local kindergarten teacher.
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