Seven Books, Eight Movies, Thanks for A Thrilling Ride
It all started at Platform 9 and 3/4ths in the year 2001. That is where a young wizard named Harry Potter took his first big step on a life altering journey that would serve as the primary catalyst in shaping the individual he would grow into. It was on the same train station platform that he met Ronald Weasley, a person who would become, over the course of seven books and eight films, one of Harry Potter’s two best friends, the other being Hermione Granger, who Harry would shortly meet once he arrived at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The very likable trio of friends quickly formed an unbreakable bond against the all encompassing evil of Lord Voldemort and his minions, and somehow, against death defying odds, they have always managed to save the day. Friday, July 15th marked the end of a cinematic era with the debut of the eighth and final movie in the Harry Potter film franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is directed by David Yates (The Young Visitors) and written for the screen by Steve Kloves (The Fabulous Baker Boys). Kloves has written all of the screenplays for the other Potter films, with the exception of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and has been able to maintain most of the literary essence of the books written by bestselling author J.K. Rowling. The 130 minute film begins mere seconds after Part I ended, but the pacing is decidedly faster than its predecessor. The movie has an unyielding urgency to it that has never been present in the other films, a race against evil, that as a viewer, you can’t help but get caught up in. Fans of the books primarily knew what was going to transpire in the eighth and final installment, but movies sometimes deviate from the endings of their literary counterparts for a variety of reasons.
The film series’ main protagonists, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) have been on the run since Part 1 of Deathly Hallows, attempting to make headway against Harry’s nefarious nemesis Lord Voldemort by destroying objects known as horcruxes. In Rowling’s epic series the reptilian looking, Lord Voldemort, in a role completely embodied by the exceptionally talented Ralph Fiennes (The Reader), is attempting to cheat death by splitting his soul into seven separate pieces which are contained in the various horcruxes. Lord Voldemort’s character’s name is a fitting one because in the French language it means one of two things: “cheater of death” or “flight of death.”
The final film is everything a fan who has been invested in the series for the past decade could ask for. The movie is pulse pounding, visually stunning, and executed in an artful way. In this blogger’s opinion, the battle of Hogwarts alone is worth the price of admission, thanks to the effective directing of Yates as well as spectacular production values and outstanding cinematography by Eduardo Serra (Defiance.) The film’s soundtrack is scored by composer Alexandre Desplat (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button); he also scored the first Deathly Hallows film. Viewers with discerning ears should be able to note the difference between the darker tones he takes in scoring the past two Potter films from that of his predecessors John Williams (Star Wars film series) and Nicholas Hooper (The Girl in the Café.) The film’s special effects are phenomenal, and the best part is they don’t take full control of the movie like some summer blockbusters are apt to do. One note of caution to parents of small children – – this is without question a dark film.
Hogwarts School has always played an integral role in the films, even more so than a great many of the human characters that, at least in the final film, consisted of about ninety different actors and actresses. Harry has been put on paths that have led him to answers about his origin, current state of being, and the future that lay ahead of him. The interaction he has received from being at the school has allowed him to form friendships with loyal peers who have stuck by his side in the fight for good to prevail against the dark forces looking to take over. He has been able to receive the experience, wisdom, and guidance from, not only the Hogwart’s caring headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore, portrayed by the late Richard Harris and Michael Gambon respectively, but numerous other caring teachers and individuals such as Professor Minerva McGonagal (Dame Maggie Smith), Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) and Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane).
The movie contains an extensive array of both surprises and expected moments that should appeal to the ardent Harry Potter supporters, as well as those who are just now getting around to reading the books and watching the movies because the entire story has been told…so there is no waiting. The main distinction between the first part and the second is that while both serve to compliment one another, the second installment showcases more of a progression of the story and the characters’ lives which come full circle. In the second part of Deathly Hallows, Harry is the focus, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of the moments in the film that pertain to perennial underdog Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). No spoilers from me for this movie, I wouldn’t have the heart to do it, but you’ll see what I mean if you’ve not been reading the books. In addition, a further mention of unabashed adulation must be paid by this blogger toward actor Alan Rickman (Galaxy Quest) who, in the role of the character of Professor Severus Snape over the course of all eight films, was a sheer joy to watch. Rickman seemed to ooze darkness on the screen, and was one of the best and most intricate characters Rowling created in her novels.
Made for a budget of approximately $125,000,000, the film’s opening weekend box office take was over $169,000,000 which set a new record for opening weekends. In this blogger’s opinion, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a very satisfying ending to the franchise. It can be enjoyed by both diehard fans and those who have watched the films only once. When I looked around the theater when the movie was over, I saw in attendance both young and old; a number of people clapped, including myself, and a number of people shed tears knowing that when the lights came on that the final reel of film about the “boy who lived,” as J.K. Rowling put it at the start of her prose had, had his last adventure.