Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
Dir. David Yates
4 out of 5
Leave no stone unturned. That’s the mantra of the We Need Absolute Closure era – every loose thread pulled, every character fulfilled. All’s well that ends well? Try all’s well that ends wrapped in a bow with a note thanking you for your attentiveness. Congratulations! You didn’t waste a single second of your time!
There isn’t a moment to waste in Deathly Hallows Part 2, the action-packed conclusion to the Harry Potter series. After seven films of info-dumping flashbacks, supernatural side-quests, and hammy turns from Britain’s finest thespians, DHP2 sticks largely to the fulfillment of one goal: Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) final tete-a-tete with the supreme evil of the wizarding world, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). It’s the series’ most focused installment since Goblet of Fire. It’s also the shortest in terms of running time. And why not? By now, the audience is as comfortable in this environment as the actors – all David Yates has to do is wind both groups up and watch them go.
Considering that they might as well have posted a “for serious fans only” sign at the box office four films ago, it feels petty to complain about the manic pacing. Perhaps Yates is making up for the relative stillness of Deathly Hallows Part 1. Regardless, there’s no compelling reason why this book required two films when J. K. Rowling’s longer tomes (Fire and Order of the Phoenix) were neatly told in one. As I observed at the time of DHP1’s release:
Of course, there was no way to [include the entire story in one film] without fans sharpening their knives and/or leaving literally billions of dollars on the table. I just don't like being lead in by my wallet instead of my heart or my brain, especially with the rare story that transcends traditional Hollywood kiddie bullshit - get in, tell it, then get out.
Having seen all the Potter movies now, I can put my cynicism to the side for a moment and admit their aims weren’t entirely commercial, not with the wry Ms. Rowling overseeing the visualization of her novels. As Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) remarks in the middle of a heavily-promoted, effects-heavy summer movie extravaganza, words may be our most powerful form of magic. Indeed, Rowling’s words have inspired justifiably powerful – sometimes frightening – devotion; they are fantastic stories of courage, tolerance, and community. There are messages far, far less deserving of a $7 billion worldwide gross.