TITLE: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2
STARRING: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith
DIRECTOR: David Yates
STUDIO: Heyday Films, Warner Bros.
RUN TIME: 130 min
June 24, 2011

By Justin Polak
Co-founder, Ambassador of the Mushroom Kingdom

Ten years ago I was convinced to go see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I never really planned on seeing it simply because Potter-mania first swelled up in the public’s eye around then, and I was simply sick of hearing about Harry Potter. I walked out of the first film with an understanding of why fans dig the series, but I still didn’t consider myself a fan at that point. Having said that, I willingly saw all the other films. Sometime after the fourth film (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) was released, I randomly decided to read all the books, which at that time came to a total of six out of the eventual seven. As I blazed through page after page of each book, I converted. I even picked up the last book on day one! Since then, I have been proud to be a Harry Potter fan, and even gained a greater appreciation of all the films.

As cliché as this opinion may be, I do find the books to be vastly superior to the films. A book has many more opportunities to expand back story and character development, which works wonders for the Harry Potter series. The books all flow like one cohesive story while the films feel a bit more disjointed.

That’s why when I first heard that the final part of the Harry Potter saga, The Deathly Hallows, was going to be separated into two films, I was overjoyed. There would be no way to cut the story down to simply a two hour film, so a split into two parts was essential. If anything, I felt a couple of the later films seemed rushed since their book counterparts also had a lot of story to tell.

As far as both parts of Deathly Hallows go, the split into two movies did help flesh out the overall story and character development better than ever before. The effort still isn’t going to please the book purists, but audience members of all types will find enjoyment out of them, especially Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2.

The film wastes no time moving things right along as if you never left the theater from whenever you saw the first part. While Part 2 is much more action-packed as many issues are resolved and the story reaches its climax, it still delivers a satisfying experience as you see the end of each character’s journey.

What has amazed me since the fifth film is how some of the sets have turned out nearly identical to how I pictured them in the books. For example, No. 12 Grimmauld Place felt like the movie ripped the architecture from my brain to build the interior set in Order of the Phoenix. The cave that held the fake Horcrux actually frightened me in Half-Blood Prince thanks to how accurate the lighting was compared to how I envisioned it. Part 2 further ups the ante by downright filming it such a way where even certain camera angles resembled how scenes where “shot” in my imagination.

Aside from a few special effects being a little too cartoonish for me, the film as a whole looks beautiful. Many visuals subtly mimic the tone and attitude of the struggle everyone is going through, and how the whole world is on the line. Even taking away the fact that I felt the movie was shot how I envisioned it, almost every scene had superb cinematography. Ever since David Yates has started directing the films since Order of the Phoenix, the Harry Potter series have been fun rides to be apart of.

Although there wasn’t an incredible, surprising sequence like the animated back story of the Deathly Hallow legend as seen in Part 1, one sequence in particular hit me harder than it did when reading the book. Without spoiling anything, I will say the scene in question involves one Severus Snape. Those of you who have read the book know what I am talking about, but for those of you who haven’t, I’ll just say that I was moved to tears while watching this part of the film. I’m not one to cry too much when I see movies, either. There have been only two times I have completely broke down while watching a film. One of those films was The Road, but simply because of how utterly bleak and hopeless that film is. It’s rare that this much emotion swells up in me while viewing any film. I mean, Alan Rickman’s acting brought tears to my eyes! This is the same guy who played Hans freaking Gruber!

The only part of the film I can imagine book readers being turned off by is the climax. The final battle sees much more action than the books, and offers many changes too. When seeing previews of Part 2, I was a bit concerned the action would get carried away and make it seem like the equivalent Die Hard in Hogwarts (and yes, I realize that I could make an Alan Rickman joke here since I just dropped his Die Hard character name).

Personally, the climax did the story justice. As I just said, there are some pretty big changes, but as a whole the story remains the same. Plus, many changes made more sense for a visual medium like film. As long as you walk into Part 2 with that attitude in mind, you’ll find yourself enjoying the action. It goes without saying the average movie goer will love all the on screen chaos.

I’ll waste no more time. As far as the films go, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 is king of the hill. If fans of the book can get past the changes, they’ll find themselves enjoying it immensely. From the movie only fan perspective, audience members will find themselves with a satisfying ending from a long, ten year trip. Go to your nearest theater and watch a magical series go out with a bang.

RATING: 9/10