Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011) movie poster

(2011) director David Yates
viewed: 07/16/2011 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

By now, most everyone has seen it, even though it only opened a few days ago.  It’s breaking box office records.  And Felix and Clara and I saw it on Saturday along with an energetic, avid house of movie-goers.

The finale to the film series pumps up the drama and action, reaching for the epic.  And it does it well.

We finished reading the book a few months ago, so the only surprises were any narrative changes that they added in (of which there are a few, mostly for concision’s sake).  At 130 minutes, it’s the shortest of the film series (so I’ve read), and what with the first half of the book’s story told in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010), this film has what none of the others have had, more room to just be a movie.  All of the other films have had to pack as much as they could of the bloated novels, quirks, details, asides, whole side plots.   But Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 only has to finish up everything, and even in that, they’ve made some shrewd decisions to keep the clutter at bay.

David Yates directed the final four films of the series and got a little better at it with each go.

More than anything, this series of 8 films, spanning 10 years in production, keeping all of the key cast members, and literally watching them grow, has been the production’s greatest triumph.  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have all grown as humans as well as actors.  Digital animation has also improved notably in those 10 years too.  And the fandom of the series?  It’s massive.

The audience was waiting on pins and needles with bated breath by the time the opening credits rolled.   They cheered the characters as they appeared and cheered loudest when certain villains met their ends.  And the cheers and enthusiasm was fun to be a part of.

It’s hard to consider this film on its own, really, because by no means is it a film on its own.  It’s part 2, quite literally, of a single novel’s worth of narrative, though it contains the crescendo and finale of the entire series.  The epic quality isn’t just in the storyline, but in the production, an entire decade, watching these primary characters grow from children into adults (and how oddly appropriate, the final sequence, shooting into the future showing them aged yet another decade or so).  The accomplishment is the series itself, but this is a satisfying, well-handled ending to the whole.