After 10 years, eight films, 20 hours of screen time and global box office well into the billions, the Harry Potter franchise at last comes to a close with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The film is a worthy conclusion to the series, providing numerous worthwhile payoffs to J.K. Rowling's wizard saga.
While most of the movies of the Potter series have comprised a longer period of time, the bulk of Deathly Hallows - Part 2 takes place over one long night. Set at Hogwarts, the film builds toward Harry Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) final confrontation with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
In the meantime, there are secrets revealed, mysteries solved and various moments just screaming for applause, whether it's kisses between heroes or the deaths of villains.
(The usual disclaimer: I have read none of the Harry Potter books, but seen almost all of the movies. I know who most of the characters are, but not all, and while I know what a horcrux is, I couldn't keep straight what they're called or which one is which.)
When considering Deathly Hallows - Part 2, the first word that comes to mind is "dark." The Potter films, as the series has progressed, have gotten darker and darker, both thematically and in terms of the actual darkening of the image.
And the new movie is the most pitch-black of all, between being set almost entirely at night, various indoor/underground scenes, the darkness of the 3-D glasses and the general English dreariness.
This would be a problem, but David Yates (the signature director of the franchise's back half), does a good job arranging shots and organizing the action, while series veteran Steve Kloves handed in another first-rate script.
There are a couple of castle battles that rival similar Lord of the Rings scenes, and there's one really beautiful sequence in which several of the characters cast spells to create a protective shield around Hogwarts.
The performances are strong, as well. The series really lucked out in picking three actors as small children who developed such chops to perform so well as adults a decade later. Michael Gambon's return, in fantasy sequences, as Dumbledore is welcome, while I could watch eight movies of nothing but Alan Rickman playing Snape.
The only place the film really steps wrongly is the final scene, an epilogue set two decades later in which virtually no attempt has been made to make the characters look older. I read that this was the result of reshoots after a previous version, with old-age makeup, didn't look right; a better idea might've been to scrap the whole scene entirely.
I'm going to repeat a line from probably five of the six reviews I've written this summer: "3-D adds nothing to the film."
There were one or two moments that looked legitimately cool in 3-D, but otherwise, I barely noticed it. The filmmakers abandoned plans, at a relatively late date, to convert the previous Potter film to 3-D; that initial impulse may have been the correct one.
The Silver Screen Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Roll Credits: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon
Length: 2 hours 5 minutes
AMC Neshaminy 24—Click for showtimes.