As Deatheaters surround the Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, series MVP) headmastered Hogwarts and Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) evil reach continues to grow, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) keep on fighting, searching out the remaining horcruxes that house the Dark Lord's soul in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2"
Director David Yates has done a superb job wrapping the J.K. Rowling's series with an ever more serious cast. "Deathly Hallows Pt. 2" begins with very somber tones as we view Hogwarts under a sickly siege and consider those who have already died. Inside Hogwarts, the students seem like prisoners of a concentration camp, color drained from their clothes and the halls. In this finale, it will be the dead who come to Harry's assistance.
There is an opening adventure, as Harry negotiates with Griphook (Warwick Davis) for access to Gringotts bank. Hermione will disguise herself as Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter having a goof in different character), whose lockbox contains one of the last horcruxes and their escape is made on a magnificent winged creature, albeit an albino one which has been dreadfully abused. Then Harry must make his way into Hogwarts to find a horcrux hidden there. McGonagall (Maggie Smith) outwizards Snape and Luna produces the clue which leads Harry to the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw (Kelly Macdonald). Ron kisses Hermione. Draco (Tom Felton) switches allegiances. Snape's true story is told by his tears in Dumbledore's pensieve. Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) shows what he's made of, Voldemort attacks and many more die.
Screenwriter Steve Kloves can't disguise the fact that Rowling overworked her saga as she tried to wrap it - hallows and horcruxes and elder wands all in a jumble and the rules that guide them seem to shift and slide (Harry's dead, now he's not, but he dropped that resurrection stone a few scenes back? The elder wand answers to whoever kills its master, until a plot twist requires that they only be overpowered?). Voldemort doesn't seem as invincible nor quite as blackly evil as he should. Yet Yates gives this final Harry Potter production the majesty it calls for. There is something to be said about the effect of seeing Hogwarts in rubble. And if Fiennes comes across a bit too soft, Yates gives us a madly grinning closeup as Harry pulls Voldemort into the abyss, the Dark Lord doing "The Dark Knight's" Joker (later, Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) goes all Ripley on Lestrange). Alexandre Desplat steps up to the task as well with the series' most varied score to date - there is little of that Harry Potter magical theme here, just enough to ground us when the moment is right. The 3D photography is nicely done, the Potter shaped glasses a cute tie-in, but as with most 3D films, it's thoroughly unnecessary.
There's a who's who of "Harry Potter" as actors like Emma Thompson and Miriam Margolyes have their brief moments even as new cast members still come aboard (Macdonald, Ciarán Hinds as Dumbledore's brother). And in the end, in the much talked about '19 years later' coda, young Arthur Bowen will forever be a trivia answer as Albus Severus Potter.
In truth, that coda is anticlimactic, a rather bland gathering that does little but give us the three we've followed since they were nine and ten years old envisioned as parents of same. And so the tale wraps with the light-hearted magic that was initially Harry's world restored. A fitting, if not earth-shattering, end.
Robin did not see this film.
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