Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Previously, on Harry Potter: Big bad Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave, while Harry mourns the loss of his wee elf friend Dobby and begins his search for the remaining Horcruxes.
If that recap leaves you with hazy memories of last year's Deathly Hallows - Part 1, you may want to pop in the DVD before taking on the Harry Potter franchise's grand finale, Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The eighth film in the series doesn't pull any punches, demanding your knowledge of the saga's previous events and crescendoing off a foundation of character and connection built over a decade of cinematic excursions. That's not a fault -- Deathly Hallows - Part 2 serves hardcore fans and dedicated patrons of the franchise alike, bouncing elegantly back and forth between explosive action and emotional conclusions. At this point, that's what matters.
Whereas Deathly Hallows - Part 1 took Harry, Hermione and Ron on a gritty race through the real world, Part 2 brings the trio back to their home base, Hogwarts School of Magic and Child Death, where their colleagues and professors find themselves defending it against the empowered Voldemort and his band of Death Eaters. Similarly to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Deathly Hallows - Part 2 spends most of its run time following various established characters as they navigate the epic battle. Unlike the clunky, erratic action of TF3, director David Yates manages to execute the sequences in Potter with bravado, making sure we give a damn every time Potter discovers a secret from the past, blows a Death Eater out a window or glances upon one of his closest friends lying dead on the floor.
For all its otherworldliness, Potter is and always has been a human story, one that puts its characters before spectacle. But when Yates and his team of FX wizards do unleash their bag of spells on the screen, they do it with a very BIG bang. Deathly Hallows - Part 2's scope is on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, bringing everything from trolls to spiders to animate statues into the wizards' massive assault. The franchise hasn't seen action on this scale before, but Yates never misses a beat or opportunity to dazzle with visual eye candy. Turning the crumbling of Hogwarts castle into a riveting, poignant experience -- true magic.
Once again, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and a cast of veteran British thespians deliver the necessary gravitas to anchor Potter's fantastical elements in reality. With everything finally on the line in Deathly Hallows - Part 2, each performance is at its best and Radcliffe steps up to the plate to make his final showdown with Voldemort one to remember. He spends most of the movie covered in dirt, encrusted blood on his face and a harrowing sense of death behind his eyes. Heavy material, but Radcliffe pulls it off.
Few franchises have the chance that Harry Potter has been fortunate enough to receive, to follow the same familiar faces through years of ever-complicating story. Thankfully, Deathly Hallows - Part 2 doesn't squander the opportunity. The saga swells with a triumphant final act, one that never forgets why people love the movies in the first place. The adventure, the awe, the comedy, the thrills, the people, the places, the things -- those are the elements that make Harry Potter grand and they return in perfect form once more to say good-bye.
Hollywood.com rated this film 4 stars.