Review: Harry Potter Ends His Journey On A High Note

Harry Potter as a film saga is the rare case in which commercialism helps art achieve its maximum potential. The last chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, is an excellent example of this. The questionable Part 1 (for many a moneygrab manouver by Warner Bros.) turned out to be the perfect setup for an all-out conclusion such as this.

While the 3-D factor is not particularly impressive (except when showing  dementors surrounding Hogwarts), this is entertainment at its finest.

Spoilers after the jump!

Director David Yates establishes an impossibly tense mood from scratch. The heroes, Harry, Hermione and Ron, are outnumbered and underwhelmed by their responsibilities, but at no point hide from them. So many movies attempt to make an audience care for a lead in similar circumstances and so few achieve it (Transformers 3). We care so much for these three, their victories and defeats feel like our own, judging from the audience burst of applause at some critical moments.

Readers of the book would be greatly rewarded by Deathly Hallows. Every memorable moment of it is amped to 11 and quite a few deliver goosebumps: McGonagall taking back Hogwarts from Snape, Neville Longbottom’s Braveheart speech, the best use of the word “bitch” ever. Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman get more minutes than usual and deliver accordingly. Not enough has been said of Ralph Fiennes’ work as Voldemort: Fiennes turns this supremely evil being a fully fleshed character, even comical when the part allows it.

Aside the uselessness of the 3-D format, the movie looks wonderful, even surpassing what I imagined when I first read the book. One wishes it wasn’t so dark at times (again, 3-D’s fault).

The most difficult aspect of the book, the whole ‘ownership of the wands’ drama, is dealt with deftly. Same happens with the spectacularly high body count: Despite the big names who bite the dust in Deathly Hallows, Lavender Brown (a lesser character better known as Ron ex-girlfriend) is the one that stays with you. Her lifeless body laying among the wreckage is a chilling moment treated as an afterthought.

In the end, special effects are not the main attraction in the Harry Potter saga. We care because it’s the closest we have to a communal myth: A kid nobody wanted is actually the chosen one to deal with unimaginable evil. Faced with powerful enemies, he is joined by equally brave and noble comrades (tell me if that doesn’t sounds like a Greek legend).

The main lesson J.K. Rowling wants us to get from her books is that nobody should go to war alone, whatever that war may be.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 marks the end of many people’s childhood. With all its faults, the Potter series (in book and film format) has made our lives so much richer. It’s sad to see it go.

I’m just glad there is something I can read to my kids in the future that I’ll enjoy as well.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.

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