Monday, August 1, 2011
After Columbus came Alfonso Cuarón who directed the much acclaimed third installment The Prisoner of Azkaban, then Mike Newell who directed The Goblet of Fire, and finally David Yates, who went on to direct the final four films in the series. Yates is the director who began to inject a sense of maturity in the series, and with him the films began to get progressively darker. He has directed the last four installments which add up to be half of all the films in the series, and has done a job that I describe as commendable.
When it came to the point where the last installment, The Deathly Hallows, was split into the films, the decision was at first viewed as a greedy executive move aimed at doubling the revenue and squeezing every last dollar from the series as possible. I admit that even I didn’t quite agree with it, but when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was released, my mind had been changed. And if anyone still had any doubts about the split, I am sure that after watching this last installment, they will be glad that this was the way things turned out.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the series so far, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is by no means the place to begin, nor the place to catch up again. For any of you who walk into the theatre with the nerve of asking what a Horcrux is or who still confuse Professor Dumbledore with Professor Snape, be prepared to watch a film that might as well be in another language.
What’s more; it might even be a good idea to re-watch Part 1 before going into this, because Part 2 wastes no time in catching up those who haven’t been doing so or reminding any of us where we are picking up from. It begins right where its precedent left off; the evil Lord Voldemort has gotten hold of the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in the world, which also happens to be one of the Deathly Hallows – three objects that together make one master of death. Now, all he has left is to go after the only individual with the power to defeat him, Harry Potter.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the hunt for the remaining of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, pieces of his soul which he has concealed in other objects. Without their destruction, the Dark Lord is immortal. Having already destroyed one in the previous installment, Harry and his friends have three more to go. One is in Gringotts Bank, inside Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault, and the other is somewhere inside of Hogwarts. Getting them is no easy task given that Gringotts has a reputation of being impossible to break into, and that Hogwarts is no longer the jovial, happy-go-lucky castle that it used to be. Now under the supervision of the sinister and mysterious Professor Snape, Hogwarts resembles more of a concentration camp than a boarding school, and getting in will be more complicated than simply waltzing in through the gates.
All this leads up to the much anticipated final battle between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort; the moment of truth, the answering of all of the questions, and the finale that the world has been waiting a decade for.
If Part 1 was a slower, character based, and more tone setting, than this one is the exact opposite. Seven other films have been leading up to this one with the pretense that it will be a battle of epic proportions, and it delivers as promised. There is no beginning, middle, or end in this one. Instead, it is a two hour long climax in which the story finally unfolds and brings along with it everything it has. It is relentless in its brisk pace and at the rate in which it throws action scenes after actions scene at the screen.
And must I say - it is exhilarating. Finally, we are able to receive the extraordinary battle and just sit there and indulge it. We are, finally, having our cake and eating it.
The visual effects are spectacular and have never been better, from the smallest spell flying of the tip of a wand to a dragon taking off from the rooftops at Diagon Alley. We are given some amazing set pieces, in particular the breaking into Gringotts, a flight from a raging fire in the Room of Requirement, and of course, the Battle of Hogwarts, which indeed is everything you would expect from the finale of these films.
The acting in the final film is as grand as the film itself. Ralph Fiennes brings it his all as Lord Voldemort, and is given the opportunity to finally give the performance that shows the true extent of his acting abilities in the series. His work here is applause worthy, and gives his character moments that are genuinely terrifying, as well as those in which his vulnerability is enough to even make you vaguely pity him.
But in the end, what is most appreciated is how the magic has remained through eight films, four directors, and a whole decade. The series comes to a close with arguably the best installment in the series; one that will conjure a couple of tears and memories for a generation that has grown up with these movies. It ends on a note of satisfaction rather than devastation – but most of all, on that is abundant with the genuine, hard to find magic that will remain within us for a very, very long time.