Reviews

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2' Leaves Us Forever at Platform 9 ¾

Like the lightning bolt scar etched into his skin, Harry is forever seared into our cultural zeitgeist.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 2011-11-11

From billboards looming overhead to adverts inserted between the sheets our daily pages its message was not subtle: It All Ends. Yes, indeed, after ten years and eight films, the conclusion to the most successful movie franchise of all time arrived in cinemas. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is the culmination of an incredible journey. Not only for the three young wizards at the heart of its tale but so, too, for the millions of fans who (created and) took part in a truly astonishing cultural phenomenon.

The success of the Harry Potter films, though expected, was hardly guaranteed when the franchise launched in 2001. J.K. Rowling’s layered and engrossing books established a loyal and rabid fan base. Translation, however, from page to screen is an awkward and compromising experiment at best and riddled with potential disasters that can easily ruin even the most cinematic novels. The first Harry Potter film, directed by Chris Columbus, was as filmically uncertain and beset by vulnerabilities as young Harry himself.

A full decade on and the films, like Harry, have grown darker, more mature and exceedingly more compelling with age. So epic was the final novel in Rowling’s series that two separate movies were needed to adequately translate the grand finalé. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 picks up immediately from Part One with the wizarding world in peril as Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters reign in terror.

Do I really need to detail what happens in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2? At this point in the game the final movie is not likely to attract anyone wholly unfamiliar with the story. Part 2 picks up immediately with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) on their desperate search to find and destroy the final Horcruxes. The magical world has grown very dark as Voldermort has stolen the Elder Wand from Professor Dumbledore’s tomb and put Hogwart’s under the control of the Death Eaters.

Condensed to its plot points Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is a battle movie. With visual splendor that employs dazzling and sophisticated special effects Part 2 is (in the best sense) an action movie. David Yates directs with measured confidence and unobtrusive authority and allows the film to indulge in technical wizardry that does not overwhelm the story or undermine its extraordinary characters. And that is the real magic of the Harry Potter film franchise.

Endless theories have been given as to why Harry Potter so ferociously ignited the hearts, minds and imaginations of people around the world. Like the lightning bolt scar etched into his skin, Harry is forever seared into our cultural zeitgeist. The world Rowling created is indeed extraordinary, but her characters always expressed very real (i.e., ordinary) fears, hopes and desires. Their magical gifts were never a cloak that diminished or distracted from their human character.

What distinguishes the Harry Potter film franchise from Rowling’s novels is the indulgent gift of bearing witness to a troupe of superb actors. From Sir Michael Gambon and Dame Maggie Smith as Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall to Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes relishing in the deliciousness of evil as Severus Snape and Lord Voldermort. Most satisfying, though, has been the maturation of Harry Potter’s main trio of young actors – Radcliffe, Grint and Watson.

As children their very youth made them irresistible, but as they matured each actor has brought unique gifts of insight and development to their fictional counterparts. A master class of talented actors has been taking place at Hogwart’s for ten years, and the audience is lucky to have been in attendance.

The Harry Potter series, like our childhood, is now (forever?) retired to the past. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is an engaging and deeply satisfying conclusion to the franchise. Its gift upon departure from Platform 9 ¾ is the reminder that the world around us is more expansive, dangerous, engaging, wonderful and, yes, magical than we can ever dare to imagine. We wave goodbye with one hand and hold tight in the other our wand made of nothing more than an open heart and powerful belief.

A special note to fans seeking to purchase Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 on DVD. There are several digital versions available with each offering varying levels of extras. From the standard DVD, which offers only a handful of deleted scenes and featurettes, to the Blu-Ray and box sets that offer a host of supplemental features, behind the scenes documentaries, interviews and deleted scenes. Harry Potter is that rare film franchise that will no doubt enjoy a prominent position in home entertainment libraries everywhere, so do take care when selecting a version for purchase.

8

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image