Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Rated PG-13, 131 min. Directed by David Yates. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Kelly Macdonald, Evanna Lynch, Maggie Smith.
Much like his character, the sour, pinch-faced Professor Snape, Alan Rickman has been playing the long game. When he gets his first speech in this series’ capper, Rickman deliciously draws out the syllables, milking the moment for all it’s worth. And it’s worth a lot, as is the emotional investment of billions of fans worldwide in the boy wizard Harry Potter and the marvelous, sometimes macabre inventions of author J.K. Rowling, brought to such vivid life onscreen by a small army of professional dreamers. It’s the end of an era, and a mighty violent end at that. Last winter’s first installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, coursed over vast terrain and a long exile for Harry (Radcliffe) and his best friends Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson), and that film was tender with connection – between characters, as well as between the audience and those well-loved characters. Part 2 is something else altogether. Such digital effects as the marauding giants that squash baby wizards like bugs or the inky terror that is the Death Eaters – acolytes to the mad, bad wizard Voldemort (Fiennes) – are magnificent and experienced in one long, clutched breath. But what’s missing is what has been the chief pleasure of the series: the chemistry between its young leads. Without knowing it, we said goodbye to all that in Part 1. This is the Harry-and-Voldemort show now – the entire series has built to this epic confrontation – and Radcliffe conveys the gallows feeling Harry takes to their final battle with grim beauty indeed. Director David Yates, who has helmed the last four films, isn’t afraid to accommodate quiet – long stretches of the film play sans score (the better to hear the audience sniffle?) – but even in silence there’s no mistaking the deafening boom of mayhem. There’s a brief respite that takes place in something like an afterlife (one vastly less infuriating than The Tree of Life’s, incidentally), in which a character urges that “words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” It’s a moving but rather ironic sentiment, as it’s the only line of Steve Kloves’ dialogue that sticks in the brain. The rest is so much running and jumping and hurling of curses, this expertly choreographed Sturm und Drang, that the emotional sendoff feels a little thin. Part 2 is never not good, but that’s small comfort when anticipating greatness.
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