Tuesday, August 2, 2011
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS -- PART 2 (2011)
When last we saw Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) in Part 1 of this final installment, he, Hermione (the marvelous Emma Watson) and Ron (the likable Rupert Grint) had barely escaped the clutches of Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter); and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) had defiled Dumbledore’s (Michael Gambon) grave to retrieve the all-powerful Elder Wand (one of the titular Deathly Hallows). The three young wizards had abandoned Hogwarts to find and destroy horcruxes (significant items that contain a piece of Voldemort’s soul) which will make the Dark Lord vulnerable to death. Harry’s quest now requires him and his friends to break into the vaults of Gringotts with the help of devious goblin Griphook (Warwick Davis), and eventually leads them back to Hogwarts where nemesis and former teacher Snape (Alan Rickman) runs the school as a prison. Screenwriter Steve Kloves and director David Yates have streamlined the second half of J.K. Rowling’s problematic final novel into a swiftly moving package, leading inexorably to the devastating confrontation between Voldemort and Harry. The filmmakers smartly hit their paces but sideline many beloved characters in the process. Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), to name a few, make little more than cameo appearances. And even Ron and Hermione have scant screen time. This is Harry’s film; however, and Radcliffe gives an affecting, if at times labored, performance. Fiennes plays his villainous one note to perfection, and Rickman presents a master class in acting as the film gives Snape his full due. Fans of the book series (and I’m one) can breathe a sigh of relief. The film delivers an emotional, satisfying finale (though I could do without the cloying epilogue – a flaw found in the book). The first two leaden adaptations notwithstanding, the Harry Potter film series has been remarkably consistent in remaining faithful to its source while finding its cinematic voice. No small feat, for which the filmmakers deserve our thanks.