Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Posted by Joel Copling on December 6, 2015

"It all ends," states the tagline for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," screenwriter Steve Kloves' adaptation of the last 13 chapters and epilogue of the final novel in author J.K. Rowling's groundbreaking series of books. From the relative innocence of our protagonist's early years to the budding of his adolescence to reaching open warfare in the build-up to this grand finale, it's been a wild ride, and the best was saved for last. This is a climax in the maximalist sense, with set-piece on top of payoff on top of simply more set pieces. It might be half a movie, thanks to the monetary decision to split Rowling's tome in two, but that doesn't hinder the real sense of grandiose achievement established.

Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has obtained the Elder Wand, an object of increasing importance to his rise to unlimited power and dominance over Muggles and wizards alike. He is also a bit more vulnerable than he would care to admit, for Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has now destroyed one more Horcrux (an object into which Voldemort entrusted fragments of his battered and damaged soul) and is three away from leaving him completely vulnerable to human--well, wizard--attack. Harry, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), the latter cleverly disguised as ruthless Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), sneak into Gringotts, the wizard's bank, to find the fourth Horcrux.

After a deadly escape on the back of a blind dragon, it's off to Hogwarts Schol of Witchcraft and Wizardry--or, more specifically, the nearby village of Hogsmeade, where the trio narrowly escapes the Death Eaters again to find brief refuge with Aberforth Dumbledore (Ciaran Hinds), brother of Albus (Michael Gambon). The sibling warns the trio of the suicidal nature of their mission to enter the school, openly admits that Voldemort has won this fight, and hints that his elder brother wasn't the saint Harry always thought he was. Harry maintains trust in his mentor (a curious departure from the book's study of Harry's growing agnosticism in Dumbledore's abilities after a series of rumors and revelations).

There's no time for such grievances, though, because for the trio, it's off to Hogwarts they go, amid a new hierarchy with Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) at its peak. All that's left is the fighting, and with the assistance of the teachers and students of age in Hogwarts and the members of the Order of the Phoenix who have survived thus far, Harry is able to seek out the remaining two Horcruxes while the others do battle with Voldemort's followers and dark creatures of all shapes and sizes (Minerva McGonagall, once again played with steely reserve here by Maggie Smith, unleashes the school's suits of armor, which fulfill the implication of that term).

It's a thrilling battle, handled by director David Yates with visual majesty aplenty (such a series of extended takes that follow the trio through the school's outer entrance hall as destruction rains down upon it) and composer Alexandre Desplat (whose scoring of that sequence is particularly thrilling, with percussive elements complementing the beats of the action). The real kicker is what follows, featuring a series of game-changing revelations (including perhaps one of the great montages of all time, establishing Harry's position in this fight and the real allegiance of a certain shifty character), gutting deaths (some glimpsed after the fact, some rather blunt and straightforward, one in particular rather nasty and brutal), and a final showdown that conceptually might be a bit more rudimentary than expected but no less mythic in its overall impact.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," unlike its predecessor, never once possesses the frustration of being part of a movie. It may be a climax separated from its build-up, but it's a worthy one all the same, wrapping up with an epilogue that captures the passage of time in a surprisingly affecting way. Performances here are a similar sort of payoff, with Radcliffe in particularly asked to carry the weight of his very life and those of everyone he loves on his shoulders, Rickman to sell a certain revelation regarding Snape's character at the end, and Fiennes to add a bit of remorseful sadness to the evil Lord Voldemort. It all ends, indeed.

Film Information

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick/Griphook), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Ciaran Hinds (Aberforth Dumbledore), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley), John Hurt (Ollivander), Kelly Macdonald (Helena Ravenclaw).

Directed by David Yates and written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling.

Rated PG-13 (intense action violence/frightening images).

130 minutes.

Released on July 15, 2011.