Final showdown

The era of Harry Potter comes to a close

Lord Voldemort gets all up in Harry’s business.

Lord Voldemort gets all up in Harry’s business.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Ralph Fiennes. Directed by David Yates. Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

In 1998, millions of kids devoured their first Harry Potter book. In 2000, we saw his wizardly journey brought to the big screen, and in July 2011, we watch it all end. OK, that sounds a little dramatic, but Deathly Hallows, Part 2, is the end of an era. Whether you’re a Potter fan or not, there’s no ignoring the spellbinding presence that J.K. Rowling’s stories have left on our muggle world for the last 13 years. Doing justice to those final magical moments is a tall order, but boy, that order was met with this film.

Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) incredible coming-of-age story parallels the films’ own maturity. Now at the eighth film, the sense of finality is palpable in the movie’s ominous opening sequence, which is crucial for setting the tone for the rest of the journey. As Harry ties up loose ends before his final battle with Lord Voldemort (played hauntingly, as always, by Ralph Fiennes), I genuinely felt that sense of urgency, which contributed hugely to this film’s success.

The pacing of Part 2’s plot is so strong because this story unfolds in real time. After Harry learns that he has an hour to meet Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest to duel it out, time’s running like we’re watching an episode of TV’s 24 (but even the fantasy world in Hogwarts seems more realistic than Jack Bauer’s escapades). Watching everything unfold in one night is a refreshing change from the tempo of past Potter films, which generally spanned weeks, if not seasons.

The film progresses technically as well. The special effects are breathtaking and there are plenty showcased here. But it was simple moments of cinematography that really got me. From eerie close-ups of Voldemort to wide shots of fantastical scenery, it just all looks so damn good.

The chemistry between characters is stronger than ever, and the acting is believable, given the unbelievable circumstances they’re in. Even though it’s “the end,” the film isn’t overtly sentimental, the sappy moments being kept to a minimum.

But why does this film really win? Because through all the commotion, the story stays simple. Sure, there are lots of enchanting spells, dozens of characters, and all sorts of witches, goblins and dragons helping Harry prepare for his fight. However, when it comes to those final moments between Harry and Voldemort, your mind won’t be clouded by more than a simple desire for good to triumph over evil, a theme Rowling has brilliantly used to guide the entire series.

Watching the final journey of Harry Potter is so much fun, you’ll wish the project didn’t have to end. Die-hard fan or mild enthusiast, hop on your broom and head to the theater, soon.