Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Ten years, an entire decade of my life has been measured by the Harry Potter series of films. In those ten years our country has gone through numerous political and cultural upheavals. Personally, I’ve gone through and graduated high school and am almost through with college, that’s a lot of time. In a way I’ve grown along with stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint and when the credits rolled on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I felt as if I was saying good-bye to them, graduating along with them and going off into the unknown world. I can’t say that everyone will have the same response to the last Potter film as me, but the final installment conveys a sense of finality and emphasizes that these kids have grown into upstanding adults, ready to face life’s challenges head-on.
Picking up where Deathly Hallows: Part 1 left on, the film sees Harry (Radcliffe), Hermione (Watson) and Ron (Grint), scramble to find the final Horcruxes to defeat Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) once and for all. Their journey takes them back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where everyone they’ve ever known must band together to fit the army of Death Eaters knocking at their door. Lives will be lost, and death will be confronted, but in the end the film puts Harry and Voldemort in a life or death match out of which only one will survive.
At a little over two hours Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the shortest two hours ever, literally I felt as if I’d just sat down before the credits rolled up, the pace is incredible. It helps that about 95% of the movie is action since the first film set up all the necessary exposition. It does make it difficult to figure out the plot right away, especially if you didn’t rewatch Part 1 like me so I heartily recommend brushing up on the last film so you’re not poking your friend next to you asking “Explain this to me again.” Starting off with a thrilling trip to Gringotts Bank and ending with the most explosive and heart-stopping fight at Hogwarts, this film is all about action! The battles are nothing short of epic and you’ll find yourself struggling to catch your breath at times before the next climatic duel begins. There are a few laughs and sweet moments to pepper the action but not nearly on the scale of past efforts.
The film doesn’t lack tender moments, but they are used more in the interest of the story, mostly the flashback involving Harry and his mother before her murder. Snape’s (Alan Rickman) backstory is also incredibly heart-felt and sweet. It’s scenes like these that break up the tension but don’t think this movie will tug on the heart-strings, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is almost a war film. The cast look world weary in this installment, dark circles under the eyes, sunken pallor and a general grittiness that makes it appear as if they haven’t seen happiness in months. These are children, but soldiers who have been fighting a battle for years and it shows. When the army of Death Eaters and the like surround the castle you see Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) plans the student’s movements as if she’s ordering the troops. Combined with a gorgeous and suspenseful score by Alexandre Desplat the film conveys a finality, a sense of this moment being the last stand before something dies fighting and a new world order is accepted.
The cast have given 150% over the years and in their final moments on-screen you feel their loss, their compassion, and their love for each other. Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are all fantastic as expected and having done all these films they’ve evolved and grown before our very eyes. Matthew Lewis and Bonnie Wright steal several of the scenes they’re in, Lewis especially showing that he’s become more than the boy who gets cheap laughs. Alan Rickman is sweet and heart-breaking as Snape, revealing parts of himself that you’ve never seen before, while Julie Walters receives the most immortal words of the whole series as Molly Weasley.
The film is not without its flaws but they’re easy to overlook when looking at the series as a whole. With this film flying by with all the action it’s easy to see how the two films could have been made into one. This entry just starts and moves so quickly I have to believe there was a way everything could have fit. The side characters seem more cast to the side than in previous installments, especially Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. In the third act his character is shown bound and chained. How he got there is anyone’s guess and as soon as he’s presented he has a single line and then disappears, a sorry send-off for an integral character. The epilogue is also unbelievable and leaves a bad taste in your mouth considering that very little makeup was used to age the trio 19 years. In the scene it’s as if the group is brother and sister to the children who are supposed to be their kids. They easily could have used makeup or other actors to make them look older considering they’re supposed to be pushing 40.
In the end, I left the theater a bit sad and resolved to the fact that Harry Potter as I know him has ended. Author J.K. Rowling has talked about writing other books in the series but as it stands, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 feels like a culmination of ten years. These kids have been to hell and back, so things like marriage and children will be a cinch. I did feel as if a chapter of my own life had closed, my childhood of whimsy has ended and I must move on to other things. No matter where you stand, whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual observer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a must-see, to see how it ends and to yearn for what’s to come.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.