Oh Harry, Ron and Hermione, how we will miss you! You've provided a decades-worth of entertainment as you literally grew up in front of our eyes. And now with the eighth film of one of the most successful - and best reviewed - film franchises in history in theaters, we bid adieu to you young wizards who've captured our hearts and ignited our imagination.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the final chapter in a saga that's held us enthralled since we first took a tour of Hogwarts and got to meet all of the colorful characters who make up J.K. Rowling's incredibly detailed and complex universe in 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And if Deathly Hallows Part 2 is in fact the last time we see Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as the fearless threesome, then we leave the series behind knowing all involved have absolutely delivered the very best possible final film. There's not one thing I can point to in Deathly Hallows Part 2 - and I've read the books and consider myself a Potter fan - that could have been done better. It's the perfect end to a franchise that has captivated audiences of all ages for the past 10 years.
If you've watched the previous seven films, which of course you have if you're ready to catch the finale, you now right where the action picks up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. And because almost every scene in Deathly Hallows Part 2 has some sort of storyline spoiler involved, it's best to just provide the basics: Harry, Ron and Hermione are still hunting Horcruxes and Voldemort and his Death Eaters are on the hunt for Harry believing he must die in order for Voldemort to live. And the students at Hogwarts are doing their best to revolt against Voldemort's oppressive forces, led by new headmaster Severus Snape. The end is coming but the outcome is unclear. Who lives, who dies, and who emerges as an unlikely hero...important questions only to be answered by heading to the theater and seeing the finale play out for yourself.
The running time's swift, the action scenes have been elevated to an even higher level than they were in the previous films (and those films all featured excellent CG effects and stunt work). As for the acting, how director Chris Columbus knew way back in the early 2000s that fresh young actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint - complete unknowns at the time - could handle the stress of shouldering the task of playing three of the most famous characters in contemporary literature is a mystery - as well as an incredible stroke of luck. Not only did Radcliffe, Watson and Grint not fall to pieces - or end up as tabloid fodder for their offscreen antics - with all the attention they received due to their starring roles in the Harry Potter films, they also emerged with level heads and solid acting skills. The same can be said for Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, James and Oliver Phelps, and Matthew Lewis. Their supporting roles in the series have brought them varying amounts of fame, and none have fallen apart or disappointed Potter fans.
Columbus' casting decisions affected the course of the entire film series, and although over the course of the eight films additional key players were added to the mix, credit should be given to Columbus for making the pivotal choices with that very first film. Surrounding Radcliffe, Watson and Grint over the years have been some of the more recognizable names of the British acting establishment. Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon (and before him, Richard Harris), Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, David Thewlis, Richard Griffiths, Julie Walters, and Jason Isaacs elevated the Harry Potter films with their outstanding performances. In particular, Rickman, Gambon, and Oldman's work brought Rowling's major supporting characters to life in a way that not even the author's writing could do.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a difficult film to review. We know the story, the characters, and the settings so well that there's no reason to critique any of those elements of the final film. This last Harry Potter movie mixes heart-stopping fight scenes, some witty dialogue and lighter moments to ease the tension, and a few scenes that'll pull on your heartstrings (no matter your age or sex). Every T is crossed and every I is dotted, and Rowling's final book has been brought to the screen in one of the more faithful adaptations of her novels.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was directed by David Yates and is rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.
Theatrical Release: July 15, 2011