Wizardry is not for the faint of heart. This becomes evident in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final chapter of this generation’s most popular series. While triumph almost certainly awaits Harry, even audiences familiar with the plot are not relieved of suspense and emotional attachment until the last spell has been cast. The result is a wildly entertaining and captivating 130 minutes.
Remaining mostly faithful to the book’s storyline, the film pairs satisfying payoff moments with stinging deaths of dear characters. No one is safe in this Hogwarts epic.
Director David Yates effectively casts dark shadows and terror over the wizardry world. While the spectacular special effects alone could have dominated the film, Yates allows the core characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, to carry the plot. When the final showdown between good and evil does commence, Hallows does not hold back, treating audiences to vivid and fantastic displays of computer-generated magic. The fact that all the characters, minor and major alike, hold special places in our hearts makes the explosions and spells feel as real and deadly as technology allows.
Harry and the gang rarely smile, and why should they? A hauntingly sinister Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes, slithers and sneers his way across the screen, upping the ante of evil at every turn. He is a fitting foil for the pure-of-heart Harry, portrayed yet again by Daniel Radcliffe. Radcliffe trades in the boyish charm present in some of the earlier films for a clenched jaw and pair of white knuckles reminiscent of Clint Eastwood.
Perhaps the most appetizing moments of the film come not during violent clashing of good and evil, but in the satisfying recreation of J.K. Rowling’s beautifully weaved plot. Audiences may clap at the demise of truly loathed villains, but seeing cherished minor characters rise to the occasion offers the biggest payoffs.
The first half of the movie is paced like a shot of wand-waving adrenaline, as the trio seems to sprint from scene to scene. When they do reach Hogwarts, they are no longer its students, but its defenders.
The climactic battle that ensues avoids over-dramatizing the death and destruction, a refreshing touch from the filmmakers who are presented with ample opportunity to do just so.
Finally, one must comment on the nicely wrapped epilogue to the series. It seems a bit corny at first, yet it remains a fitting conclusion to the beloved series.