Rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 was the epic finale we've all been waiting for and a worthy ending to an amazing series.
Lord Voldemort now has the Elder Wand - the most powerful wand ever created. His defeat is getting farther and farther away unless Harry, Ron and Hermione can track down the final Horcruxes and destroy them. But they have no idea what the Horcruxes might be, let alone where to find them. Their journey leads them from Gringotts to the place where it all started - Hogwarts. And now, Voldemort is tired of waiting to get rid of Harry and issues an ultimatum. Either Harry willingly hands himself over to the Dark Lord, or Voldemort will destroy Hogwarts and all who dwell inside. But Harry now knows what his true destiny is and in the end the two opposing forces of good and evil come head to head in a climatic final battle. Neither can live while the other survives. It all ends, now.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 was the perfect ending to what has been a tremendous series of films. Yes, as many of you who read my reviews know, I'm completely biased for all things Harry Potter, but the final film struck all the right notes. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry and it'll make you stand up and cheer as the Battle of Hogwarts is as epic as I had hoped it would be. The movie starts from the exact point Part 1 left off, with Voldemort finding the Elder Wand and Harry and company at Shell Cottage. Harry, Ron, Hermione and the goblin Griphook concoct a plan to break into Gringotts because Harry believes that another Horcrux is hidden in Bellatrix Lestrange's vault. But breaking into Gringotts is a fools errand and it leads to the one sequence I had wanted to see in the first film - the ride through the caves and caverns of the bank to the vault. I think it would make a fantastic ride, and this was one instance where the 3D IMAX screen really made you feel like you were riding along with them. In the books, Harry uses more logic and reasoning to understand what the Horcruxes are - he understands why Voldemort would have chosen them and why he would have hidden them where he did. In the movie they change it up slightly where Harry can feel the Horcruxes when they're close. It's a change that makes sense for the movie because we simply don't have time for a lot of studying, for lack of a better word. The entire Gringotts sequence was amazing, if a little distracting due to Emma Watson's cleavage coming front and center for a little while. It was a side of her we haven't really seen in the previous films.
Next up is a trip to Hogsmeade where they finally meet Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth, who has rescued them on more than one occasion. He feels like all hope is lost, but Harry knows there's always a chance. They end up back in Hogwarts, where Snape is now headmaster. Harry, having seen inside Voldemort's mind, knows another Horcrux is buried somewhere in the castle, but he's at a loss to know what it is. Answers come from an unexpected place as Luna gives Harry the information he needs which leads the trio of heroes inside the Room of Requirement, where they're met by Draco Malfoy and his cronies. A fight ensues, leaving one dead and the room in flames. At this point Voldemort is getting more and more desperate, and he comes to the conclusion that the Elder Wand isn't acting as it should - that he isn't the true master of the wand. And in his mind, the person who is, is Snape.
And it's at this point where the Snape character, arguably one of the greatest characters in the history of literature and film, makes his final stand. We watched Snape from Harry's point of view, the greasy-haired professor who always seemed to have it out for Harry. And yet Dumbledore always trusted Snape when no one else would. As we learn about Snape's true feelings through the pensieve, Harry comes to find out that Snape was the bravest person he's ever known. But Harry also finds out that his destiny lies with his own death. And yet, even in death, Harry learns more about his true destiny which leads to one last battle with the man who killed his parents. In a battle for the ages, Harry takes on Voldemort, one on one through Hogwarts, the place where both their paths started and where one of their lives will ultimately end.
The movie starts out with no introduction - it just jumps right into the action. It's a very, very dark film with moments of humor, but rare instances of light. There is no happiness left in the world and so the movie is grainy and sparse. I saw it in IMAX 3D and while I always like seeing things on an IMAX screen because of the sheer size (a real IMAX, not a fake IMAX), the 3D was still a conversion so it wasn't great. It didn't hurt the movie, like so many other conversion have, but it didn't really help the film that much. There were a few scenes that looked decent, and the final battle sequence was pretty compelling, but when I see the movie again (and again) I'll try and see it in 2D where I imagine the picture will look a little crisper and cleaner. While all the films have veered somewhat from the books, a lot of this film was taken pretty directly from J.K. Rowling's work, including Molly Weasley's famous line, "Not my daughter, you bitch!" as she duels Bellatrix. That line may have gotten the loudest applause of anything in the film. There are characters who die in the book and while their deaths are almost afterthoughts in the film, they do occur. There were a couple of things I wish had been mentioned in passing though. One was that Tonks and Lupin had had their son and that Harry was made Godfather. Even in the 19 years later coda it was never mentioned, and I thought that character was an important part of Harry's journey because now he was raising someone who was just like himself. The pacing of the film was pretty good. They had to only condense a couple hundred pages of the book into a roughly two hour film, so it allowed for a lot more action. The scene at Gringotts and the battle at Hogwarts were a lot longer than I think they would have been if the two movies had been combined. The one thing that I was a little disappointed with was the ending of the battle between Harry and Voldemort. It seemed more like a fizzle at the end than the big bang I would have liked. After thinking about it, I understand why it was done like it was done - Harry and Voldemort alone in the courtyard with Harry's wits and understanding of the situation winning out over Voldemort's sheer power - but I still would have liked to have people around to see it happen. To have that sense of finality amongst everyone at the same moment. I think it could have lead to a massive round of applause in the theater. But there is something fitting about it only coming down to the two people who the series centered around.
I have a sense of sadness now that the series is over. Yes, the books ended a few years ago but I've always been a film person and while in this case I love the books more than the movies, there's still something about seeing them come to life on the big screen. I was a little disappointed in the first two films when they first came out because I felt like they were too clean for a magical book, but I appreciate them more now because they set the groundwork for what was to come. With the third film, I felt the movie really took giant steps forward - it's still my favorite book and movie in the series. The fourth book was a massive undertaking that I felt didn't get captured correctly on screen, but with David Yates taking over the directing duties for the final four films, I thought the movies got stronger and stronger. The three lead characters have come a long way from the first film to the point where they're truly good actors. I hope they all have long and fruitful careers from here on out and they seem like the kind of people who will always remember that this was the series that gave them their big breaks. Here, by the way, is my final rankings of the films (without going back and checking, my grades of the films may not reflect this order but remember, I wrote the reviews after one viewing, but this time I've seen each of the previous seven films at least 5-10 times each).
1) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (best book and best film, thanks in huge part to Alfonso Cuaron's amazing directing).
2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (hit all the right notes and was as grand and epic as a finale should be).
3) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the book felt more like a long intro to the finale, but the movie was a perfect mix of drama and humor)
4) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (positions 4-6 are almost interchangable but this is the one that started it all)
5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Yates brings a rough edge to the films)
6) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 (Unfortunately most of the good stuff was saved for the second part)
7) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (probably the weakest book and therefore a slight film)
8) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (great book, but the movie was all over the map and had one major change I did not like)
I think what saddens me the most is knowing there is no more new material. I know Pottermore is out there and will be filling in some of the blanks, but it'll be based on things we already know. I was almost giddy when this last movie started because after having watched all the other films for the umpteenth time over the last few days, I was able to see something new. It's that lack of knowing what happens to the characters and the new generation that makes me the saddest. I do hope at some point in the future Rowling revisits the characters, even if it's not a full-fledged book. She has created a universe unlike any other and while I'm sad that it's over, I'm happy to have been a part of it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I loved Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. It's as grand and epic as it should have been, with a lot of gritty action, some laughs and some tears. It's a worthy ending to what has been an amazing series of films.
Feel free to drop me a line on Twitter and let me know what you think of the final film as well as the entire series.