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“A Satisfying Ending to Harry Potter”

After spending 10 years with the children of Gryffindor, loyal fans are given a rousing graduation, one with bloodshed and loss, but where goodness triumphs over evil.  Director David Yates and writer Steve Kloves capture the essence of the final chapters of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” including the siege of Hogwarts castle and the  climactic battle to the death between "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" (Ralph Fiennes) and “The Boy Who Lived” (Daniel Radcliff).
The film begins where “Part One” ended, with Lord Voldemort capturing the elder wand from the grave of Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).  Harry and his two best friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) continue to search for the remaining Horcruxes that protect Voldemort from death.  As more gates to Voldemort’s immortality are shattered, the Dark Lord becomes more desperate to destroy Harry and all his allies.
Kloves and Yates take some of the book’s books best set pieces and turn them into thrilling moments: a rollercoaster ride reminiscent of “Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom” with a dizzying track,  the attack on Hogswart, with thousands of dark loyalists facing off against our heroes, including tough as nails Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and small but brave Professor Flitwick (Warwick Davis) and a band of stone soldiers and a wave of fire putting our heroes in jeopardy all had me on the edge of my seat. 
The cast have been playing these roles for 10 years and they never act, they actually inhabit these characters. We have watched Radcliff, Grint and Watson grow up through these films and their talent has become more evident with each film, particularly in the last few that have gotten darker and more complex. They’re supported by some of Britain’s best including Gambon, Smith, David Thewis, Julie Walters and Gary Oldman. 
It’s the villains who finally have their day in this film.  Alan Rickman, as the surreptitious Snape, reveals his true intentions. Jason Issacs as Voldemort’s right hand displays a broken man, unraveling, lacking any dignity.  As the most monstrous character, Fiennes is commanding, mocking his prey, carrying a façade of omnipotence while losing ground quickly from his youthful but powerful nemesis.  Helena Bonham Carter, a delight as the mentally unhinged Bellatrix Lestrange, has a delicious moment when Hermione disguises herself as the appropriately named Lestrange.  Bonham Carter gets to imitate the teenager imitation her own character and it’s self-reflexive fun.
The effects are stunning; once again creating a world unlike our own where magic is common place. People fly, giants pounce, albino dragons attack, all seamlessly and believably.
The only question I ask is WHEN will studios give up on 3D.  The glasses remain uncomfortable, they’re usually scratched and half the images are blurry, giving an audience migraine headache hours after the film has ended. The effects are dazzling enough that the extra dimension doesn’t add enough to make the downsides overwhelm the good.  Grade:  A.  3D: D-.

 

 

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