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‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ Film Review: Capping a decade of epic magic

For this concluding chapter, there is that sense of nostalgia on how everything started and how things come to an end.

Gracefully aging in terms of look, treatment, and emotional exploration for the last 10 years of its existence, the “success spell” for J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series has never been broken. Now, for the final film of the legendary franchise, the little boy in Harry officially becomes a man. With it comes a capper to a decade-long saga loved by many generations of fans from very young kids to their grandparents.

For someone who doesn’t know anything about the “Harry Potter” movies, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” can sound like a mere cash cow opportunity for the studio. A single book gets cut into half to produce two separate blockbusters released one year after the other. But then again, the storyteller in David Yates, the director for the last four pictures, really knows what he’s doing. For his “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” it’s a dark, heartfelt, and character-driven opus with a lingering moody atmosphere that justifies its being “half the book’s story.” For his “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” it brings a satisfying closure to the franchise and it holds nothing back in mounting such a classic epic conclusion.

This fantasy opus’ sense of farewell highlights the long-in-the-making showdown between the boy wizard and his archenemy. The darkness progressively sprawls into the story. The many chases, fights, and heart-pounding moments have the right doses of action, suspense, drama, and humor. In between, there are varying scenes filled with the story’s vulnerable moments as they precariously tip off their balances.

The epic scale of this production offers a whole different feel compared to the slower but equally masterful and involving seventh film. This time, its emotional roller-coaster ride poses with such an accelerated rhythm, relentless turn of events, spectacle of wizard wars, and in-you-face moments of life and death. Its pacing has well-defined ups and downs.

For this concluding chapter, there is that sense of nostalgia on how everything started and how things come to an end. It shows many similarities to the shots retained in people’s memory from the first movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” where Hogwarts was first seen in all its enchanting magic and audio-visual grandness. Suddenly, everything turns upside down. That same Hogwarts becomes a war setting filled with grown up kids now facing life way beyond their child-like dreams and fancies.

A very short moment of grief strikes the heart. The brave and the noble ones die and tears are shed. Endless characters fill many frames with faces of horror, loss, fear, and remorse. A wimpy kid evolves into a brave spirit and an unlikely hero. Characters from the past films simply look or nod at Harry for a mere few seconds without speaking lines, yet they speak so much gravitas on frame. Shifting loyalties and regrets come and go. Indeed, the “Harry Potter” canon mimics real life using cinematic magic.

Hogwarts transforms from a school to a fortress fallen into rubbles. Casualties of war abound and survivors help treat the wounded. Yet, after the long awaited duel between Harry and Voldemort, one circle gets completed and a new era begins through the epilogue. The new generation of little Hogwarts kids reminds viewers how Harry’s wizard life actually began in the first film. This ending tends to invite another moment to watch the first film, and perhaps, the rest of the earlier ones, yet again.

Apart from the sharp directing from Yates and the topnotch performances from the actors and actresses, all the people involved in the production of all the “Harry Potter” movies genuinely deserve to be commended.

For this eighth installment, the screenplay from Steve Kloves offers a structure that provides reverence to the source material and the dialogue is given proper weight. The cinematography from Eduardo Serra wields such a rich charcoal palette complementing the equally amazing work from production designer Stuart Craig. Alexandre Desplat’s music and Mark Day’s editing impressively bring to life the visions coming from the principal photography.

There is nothing much to say in terms of the film’s flaws and imperfections. There are some, but given the demanding scope of the material and the production, they are considerably passable as they don’t reach the point of annoyance. For instance, there are some rubbles in Hogwarts that tend to look “too light” and unlikely in certain shots. There are also some slight visual effects shortcomings including how the two leads are shown in the epilogue. Except for Ron and Ginnie who look significantly older, Harry and Hermione don’t look convincing enough to have significantly aged after 19 years. Yet, this is a more subjective concern that may vary from one viewer to another.

The commitment of the studio to make this lucrative franchise the way it is pays off very well. Consistent throughout the eight “Harry Potter” films, the eye candy magical effects and the grand musical score and sound design don’t work as separate elements. They work together to make all the films captivating. It’s the whole package, alongside the emotional aspect of the story, that allows the movie franchise to really shine.

As the end to the seven-book saga’s motion-picture offerings, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” works as a powerful film that is undoubtedly a vital part of the larger picture — the film franchise itself. Ultimately, it is meant for the fans as a worthy conclusion to a decade-long affair with Harry Potter and his magical journey with his allies and enemies. It dares to post some eternal questions about life, humanity, and the society. These questions will most likely stay with the audience even after this final film draws to a close.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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