The Wheel and Axle

The Boy Who Lived… Forever

by on Jul.23, 2011, under Film & TV, Geeky

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I’ve only really followed Harry Potter through the movies. I haven’t read any of the books except The Half-Blood Prince, which was given to me as a gift by one of my best friends several years back. The film version of The Half-Blood Prince left me gagging because of how it butchered what was a very good book, and that and the the film adaptation of The Prisoner of Azkaban have remained the sore spots in an otherwise amazing movie franchise.

Thank goodness “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” closes said franchise with the expected bang. It is an appropriate end to the fantasy begun by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The finale showcases a great mix of action, character development, and twists enough to satisfy anyone, whether hardcore fan or random moviegoer.

In this film, we witness the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, an intimate animosity rivalling that of Luke and Vader. What makes this more exciting is that it is set against the backdrop of a war in Hogwarts between good and evil, a sequence that may not rival the best of “The Lord of the Rings” but coming pretty damned close. Heart-wrenching deaths, triumphant moments of glory, quiet moments of despair, and budding romances combined to give what could’ve been a mindless action-fantasy movie a depth so rare in the genre. The final scene left a lot of fans, including yours truly, sad that it is the end of an era and that there will be no more Harry after this one.

The film series did right in using the same main cast throughout all films. It provided us the journey of the characters – we saw them grow up and mature, and this gave us the feeling that this was real. It also provided us a subtle signal of the progression of the story, for the light-hearted innocence of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” has slowly built up and grown into this dark and gritty finale. It is, in essence, what life can be as one goes through adolescence.

Daniel Radcliffe finally shows consistent acting skills, which in prior movies has been rather inconsistent. I suppose ten years of practice should improve you, but I look at Vin Diesel and remember this is not always the case, so I salute Daniel for working on his skills at a young age and slowly becoming a true thespian. Finally, his moments of tears feel natural, for in some prior films they had made him seem constipated. He has truly grown as an actor.

Emma Watson didn’t steal the show as much as she did in prior films, but she still performed wonderfully. It is not really her fault that she was unable to stand out as she used to, as this finale is really extra-focused on Harry. She has blossomed into a young woman who is every bit as capable as her male compatriots.

Rupert Grint has always been the best actor of the trio of protagonists, in my opinion. Right from the very first film, Rupert showed a great range of acting depth rarely found amongst peers of his own age, not even with Daniel and Emma. In this film, he delivers still, and though he does not shine as much as he did in prior outings (again, this movie is about Harry), the subtleties and nuances he is able to portray are ever-present. He may not be classically handsome and will probably never be of leading man status, but he is one hell of an actor.

Ralph Fiennes. What is there to say about Ralph Fiennes? Nothing. Because he is Ralph Fiennes.

The rest of the cast are also excellent. It will be difficult to have to go through all of them, not just because they are many but because they are all good, and to sing praises of each and every one will just be redundant. Here, after all, we have the best of British/Scottish/Irish legends: Dame Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, David Thewlis, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Warwick Davis, Helen McCrory. Even Gary Oldman, in his short cameo, provides much in the little screen time he has. We are also provided with some younger cast members such as Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Bonnie Wright, Natalie Tena, and Tom Felton, who all may not yet be at the same level as the older icons they act with but who should be given props for at least holding their own.  Whoever gathered all these greats should be given a raise.

I will have to give extra props, though, to Maggie, Alan, and Helena for further standing out in such a distinguished cast. McGonagall and Snape’s confrontation is a highlight, McGonagall’s leadership in the war is amazing, Snape’s intimate moments are heart-breaking, and Lestrange’s over-all presence (despite few lines) remains frightening.

If there is one true complaint I have, it is that “The Deathly Hallows” need not have been split into two parts. So what if it ran long? It would have provided an excellent single, continuous story that would be enriched by the length – much like the excellent director’s cut DVDs of the various “The Lord of the Rings” films. With the proper editing, length will not be an issue; with enough excitement, the running time would hardly be noticed by viewers.

However, I guess money speaks, and splitting “The Deathly Hallows” into two parts means twice the revenue for the producers.

With a successful book series and now the completion of a successful film franchise, Harry Potter takes his place as an important icon in pop culture, literature, and the collective consciousness of the world.

Harry will indeed be the boy who lived… forever.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

Directed By: David Yates

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Dame Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Helen McCrory, Mark Williams, Miriam Margolyes, Gemma Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Matthew Lewis, Natalia Tena, Kelly Macdonald, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, and gosh-darn so many more.

 

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1 Comment for this entry

  • J

    The last installment of the HP series was quite ok, and yes, it did end with a bang, but they also strayed from the book quite a lot (as they do in most cases). However, it was very entertaining, and a good end to the behemoth (movie) franchise.

    I will miss him. 😉

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