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Warner / 130 Minutes / 2011 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: November 11, 2011
Let’s get this out of the way: I am a Harry Potter fan. Not the armchair “Hey, I read all the books once” type of fan, but a full-bore Gryffindor scarf-wearing, first edition of the UK books-collecting, weeping in public at a café when I read the part where Dobby dies, completely irrational fanboy.
With that in mind, what can I say about the Harry Potter series - both book and film - that I haven’t already scream-typed at an 8 year-old on a chat-board at 3 a.m.? Nothing, that’s what, so I’ll settle for a little bit of comic nerd navel-gazing and call it a day.
The second part of the Deathly Hallows picks up where the first one left off: With the death of Dobby the elf and the trio of Hermione, Ron and Harry hiding out in a beachside cabin belonging to the Order of the Phoenix. Fans of the books will notice that this puts the beginning of Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at around two-thirds of the way through (page 385 of 607 in the UK version) the final book. From a structural standpoint that makes the first movie Act 1 and 2, while the final film is almost entirely made up of Act 3.
To put it another way HPDH2 is basically one long two hour nerdpocalypse of an action sequence. While this may not make Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 a terribly functional film it sure as Hell gives fans everything they could possibly want in a denouement - and then some.
All abject praise aside, there are a few departures from J.K. Rowling’s wonderful book throughout the film that miss the mark. While my knee-jerk “don’t f#@$ with my dreams!!!” reaction was to scream and shout, thanks to director David Yates these instances are well thought-out and are only undertaken where the written version simply wouldn’t have worked on film. Given the ability of the written word to stretch scenes of unimaginable brevity over perhaps dozens of pages, this was inevitable. Though there may have been a few things that I would have done differently there is nothing aside from the awful 3D formatting that I would insist could have been done better. I laughed, I cried, I cried and I pretended not to cry because I’m just that in touch with my inner teenage boy who’s too tough to cry.
For fans of the books the films or both, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will give you everything that you could want in a final installment. Secret histories are revealed, minor characters become major players and good conquers evil (duh). It has been a joy to watch all of the actors in the films progress and grow into the characters they portrayed, defining and redefining them as books 5, 6 and finally 7 were released, the full arc of the story became clear and their characters took on increasingly complex mix of emotions.
While well-known and firmly established actors and actresses were a part of the films throughout and added to the texture and complexity of the tapestry that each director wove, I would have to say that I most enjoyed watching the child actors grow in both ability and adaptability. In the first film they were simply the children who most closely resembled the characters as Rowling imagined them that showed up to UK casting calls that must have resembled American Idol tryouts. Thankfully by the middle films they had begun to become decent actors in their own right who by the seventh and eighth films would be able to carry the weight and responsibility of the entire franchise on their not-so-narrow-anymore shoulders.