Thursday, July 28, 2011

Harry Potter's Final Spell

Three and a half stars

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ is a fitting finale to the most profitable film series in history. For the last fifteen years, J.K. Rowling has cast something of a spell on the world’s readers, hooking them on her magical stories of a boy who discovers he’s a wizard. Well, Hogwarts looks much different than it did way back in 2001, where we first met the young Daniel Radcliff, as a lonely little orphan living under the staircase of his wicked aunt and uncle’s house. Since then, Harry and his friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have left innocence, as they come face to face with the evil wizard, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). The last act in the ‘Harry Potter’ saga starts as Harry is on the run with his two friends. He is coming closer and closer to the big showdown with Voldemort. Steve Kloves’s script raps up J.K. Rowling’s epic tale, and gives good weight to the dialogue and the danger lurking in the magical world Rowling has created.

Danger lurks at each door, and the film gets closer and closer to the big battle with the evil wizard Voldemort. Harry is determined to get the Horcruxes, which are explained as parts of Voldemort’s soul. The scenery is dark this time, and the three friends run through different locations as they finally arrive back to Hogwarts. When they arrive back to Hogwarts, the school doesn’t look sunny and magical anymore. It looks dark, and the new headmaster is Snape (Alan Rickman). There’s also the usual company of actors who have populated this series. Harry Potter has become something of a place for good British actors to have scenes. Many distinguished British actors have worked in the Harry Potter series, and many of them make appearances here. Probably, though, the standout here among the company of the supporting actors is Alan Rickman. He does a great job playing Snape, and I won’t give away what happens with Snape, though I suspect most of the people in the audience have read the books. So, don’t put the spoiler police on me. Alan Rickman and even Ralph Fiennes as the evil Voldemort deserve Oscar consideration.

Bellatrix Lestrange, Rubeus Hagrid, Professor Dumbledore, Ollivander, Lucius Malfoy, Sirius Black, Severus Snape, Remus Lupin and Prof. Minerva McGonagall all shield Hogwarts from the evil of Lord Voltemort. Hogwarts is placed under a magical shield from the armies of Voldemort. Ralph Fiennes makes Voltemort evil. Screenwriter Steve Kloves has a big task to tie up all the loose ends and includes many scenes and speeches. Hogwarts is reduced to ashes and ruins as the kids run through the battles and evil sorcery. It’s leading up to a big confrontation. There are many themes about death and sacrifice and standing up to evil.

This is a wonderfully shot film, though it is dark and dealy. The series has remained faithful to J.K. Rowling’s original idea, though the tones of the books and films have grown darker since the series has progressed. I suspect though that’s one of the reasons the series has been so successful. ‘Harry Potter’ always remains good at heart, the tone of the series and films deals with issues of growing up and Harry facing certain death. The film is well staged, and the dialogue is good. Harry Potter and his friends have captivated a whole generation of kids to pick up a book. It’s a mixed blessing in a way for us writers. On one hand, she has set the bar pretty high as far as storytelling goes, but we are grateful to see a book become this big of a thing. I don’t think my forthcoming novel will sell as many copies. The last scene of the film will make those who love ‘Harry Potter’ tear up. It also leaves room for a squeal, though J.K. Rowling has said she wouldn’t write one. Hopefully, the kids who grew up reading Harry Potter will continue to read long after their favorite boy wizard has moved on with his life. The last scene of ‘Harry Potter’, I won’t give it away. I never give away endings, though I suspect you know this one. Let’s just say that this is the final class at Hogwarts for those too old to attend, now. Class dismissed.

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