Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman. Directed by David Yates. 130 minutes. 14A
We all knew there would come a day when the books about the Boy That Lived would come to die. And when that day arrived, we threw our Hermione bookmarks aside and cried into our Gryffindor scarves. Then, once we composed ourselves, we started counting down to the days until the movies based on the books about the Boy That Lived would come to die.
Now that that fateful day has arrived, with the release of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Potterheads around the world, including myself, are collapsing faster than a horcrux in the presence of a basilisk fang. Some might attribute this to them having to say their last goodbyes to J.K. Rowling’s endlessly bewitching characters. However, the real reason lies in the film itself, which manages to conjure up the same irresistibly bittersweet feelings the books did so perfectly in the final stages.
Don’t get me wrong. Part 2 isn’t a spot-on rendering of the second half of the final instalment in the best-selling boy wizard saga. Some of the most memorable lines from the book (including one from Mrs. Weasley) are lost, either through too-quick editing and or delivery. But what surrounds these minor script-to-screen disappointments is so engaging even Muggles will leave feeling totally enchanted.
If you take it simply as a film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:Part 2 is a lightning bolt to your head. It comes at you swiftly and suddenly and stays with you long after it’s over. The fantastical drama, which picks up right from the end of Part 1 and never takes a breather, is overflowing with both action and emotion. In spell speak, it’s not hard to accio laughs, tears or squeals. Often times, they come at you simultaneously. Just wait until you see Harry’s lifelong nemesis, the dark, noseless lord of all things evil, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) attempt to give someone a hug. As HP’s best friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) say repeatedly to one another in an adorable mini-moment, “Brilliant!”
The film follows Harry, Ron and Hermione as they search for, and attempt to destroy the remaining horcruxes (a.k.a. those pesky pieces of Voldy’s soul which have been transferred to everyday objects.) This battle is not only intense but meaningful, taking us back to places we grew fond of in previous instalments including Diagon Alley, Gringotts Bank and finally, Hogwarts, where Voldemort’s assistant and notorious Harry hater, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) has taken over as headmaster.
While Harry and his BFFs obviously have a major hand in this particular defence against the dark arts, they are not the only heroes of the film. Everyone from their old professors to school statues get in on the fight, giving many of our favourite minor characters, such as the timid but totally kind Neville Longbottom (a trim and triumphant Matthew Lewis) and his crush, the loopy Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), the screen time they deserve.
Radcliffe, Grint and Watson are as stellar as always, standing strong from the beginning to slightly laughable end. But it’s the elder witches and wizards who really cast a spell. Maggie Smith, who played Professor McGongall with both grace and spunk in the seven previous films, turns into a deadly assassin this time around, capable of demolishing Death Eater with just her stare. (At least, metaphorically.) And Alan Rickman deserves serious award consideration for his moving take on Snape. He not only shows us the secret side of Voldemort’s right-hand man, he makes us believe it so hard we can’t help but shed a bucket of salty ones.
I wish I could say the same about the 3D effects. The extra dimension does nothing to add to the already multi-layered story. Although you do some pretty sweet, Harry-sized specs to watch it with, you’re better off spending your spare change on some chocolate frogs.
3D and overpriced visual effects may be in right now, but when it comes to truly magnificent film, it’s well-thought out words (spoken or written) and stories that are, to paraphrase Harry’s mentor and former Hogwarts head, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), “our most inexhaustible form of magic.” And thanks to Rowling’s words and director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves’ inspired interpretation of them, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is all that– and a bag of booger-free Every Flavour Beans. A-