Director: David Yates
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a thrilling, whiz-bang, emotionally satisfying and beautifully-filmed wrap up to the fateful saga of the world's favorite boy wizard and his two best friends. It's also a magnificent way to top off 10 years and seven films' worth of great storytelling and pleasurable moviegoing.
The movie is, as if you didn’t already know, the final installment of the beloved, if uneven, movie franchise based on JK Rowling’s even more beloved, once-in-a-lifetime international mega-sellers. This one, arguably the topper of all of the Potter films directed David Yates, completes the search-and-destroy mission by Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) for the life-giving “horcruxes” required by the monstrous, parasitical evil-doer Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) to realize his plan to dominate the universe throughout eternity. The heroes’ journey—which engulfs the audience right from the start—translates into a series of edge-of-the-seat, exhilirating sequences including a surreal plunge into the bowels of a bank worthy of the illustrations of Gustave Dore and John Tenniel’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll, a thrilling ride over London on the back of a dragon and a heart-rending attack on Hogwarts school by Voldemort’s relentless, fascinatingly bizarre followers, including the cackling Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).
But what’s best about Yates’s direction of the adapted screenplay by Steve Kloves is that it never loses sight of the emotional interplay and struggles of its characters. Thus, the stage is set for soul-stirring, good vs. evil moments from the three loveable, all-grown-up leads, let alone from the great Maggie Smith, Matthew Lewis (a show-stopper as “Neville Longbottom”), Michael Gambon, David Thewlis, Robby Coltrane and, arguably best of all, Alan Rickman, finally given enough screen time to show himself as haughtier but more touching and tragic than ever. The visuals are elegant and stupendous, the best of the entire series, and every polished frame of the film is packed with fantastic, sometimes witty detail. Although the movie ducks cheap and easy sentiment it’s tough not to get misty-eyed over the brutal deaths of so many well-liked characters, let alone a hopeful coda that sends a new generation of young wizards off to Hogwarts—though not, we hope, to a series of unnecessary sequels.
Big budget, mass audience entertainment should always be this rewarding, powerful and, yes, magical. Masterfully played, Harry and company.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2011. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.