Wizard of awes

Kiss and make up already, fellas.

Kiss and make up already, fellas.

Rated 4.0

A summer movie season that had turned disgustingly lackluster gets a nice little jolt from a reliable source with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The final installment in the boy wizard series sends the franchise off with solid pyrotechnics and emotional punch. It also stands as one of the better films in the series.

Part 2, obviously, picks up where Part 1 left off, with Lord Voldemort (a creepy-as-all-hell Ralph Fiennes) ready to shred Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in his pursuit of one Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, now a legitimate actor). Harry and his cohorts are out and about searching for the Horcruxes, the objects that must be destroyed in order to defeat The Man With No Nose.

It all leads to a final showdown at Hogwarts that has a rather high death count and should have many parents of youngsters opting for the newly released Winnie the Pooh over Potter. This is easily the most violent and darkest of the series, a franchise that has done a lot of growing up since the goofy Chris Columbus costume pageant that kicked off the Potter movies a decade ago.

Watching Part 1 the night before checking out Part 2 might be a good idea. The two films certainly feel like one big movie split into two more economical parts. Some big characters die in the final installment, and they don’t get any real screen time before their demises in Part 2. They did, however, get some time in Part 1, so watching the first part is beneficial because it gives their deaths a little more heft.

Part 2 is also very “Harry-Centric,” meaning it’s very much about Harry and even less about secondary characters than the books. While characters like Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) certainly have their moments, much of their character development from the novel has been stripped away for time. While many of us would’ve loved a five-hour-finale movie, Warner Brothers probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the whole billion-dollar budget idea.

I will say I expected more of the budding romance between Ron and Hermione, and would’ve liked to see some more of that charming comic relief from Grint. I haven’t studied all of the films for minutes logged by characters, but Part 2 struck me as the lightest when it came to Ron Weasley minutes.

Grint makes the most of his time, but I couldn’t help but feel he was pushed into the background. Same for Watson’s Hermione, who was perhaps too pouty in Part 1. Here, she’s a little stronger and heroic but, like Grint, largely absent from the proceedings.

Thankfully, the film grants plenty of energy to Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort, and to their final smackdown, which doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. Part 2 is available in 3-D, and the laser show between the battling wands is a treat to watch.

There’s also significant time given to Professor Severus Snape (the wonderful Alan Rickman) and his extremely complicated character. Author J.K. Rowling did a magnificent thing conjuring up his character for the page. He certainly winds up being one of the Potter universe’s most exciting and fulfilling creations.

All in all, the series finishes on a very high note. Not all of the Potter films were great, or even very good, but they had some majestic moments. (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite.) Many of those majestic moments occur in this final couple of hours. The last scene, a fitting and sweet epilogue, resonated and reminded me that these characters really grew on me over the years.

I will miss them.