News Column

Final Harry Potter Film: Powerful End to Magical Franchise

July 16, 2011

Michael Smith

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" closes the book on a series defined by excellence. Has there ever been a movie franchise that was this consistently magical from start to finish? I don't think so.

After eight movies, fans will delight in a finale that knows how to satisfy with one showdown after another, action-packed "hooray!" moments and a blast-from-the-past bevy of clues from past films.

The picture is quite serious-minded and intense, too. Its level of death and destruction reinforces that this is the end of childhood, and innocence, for Harry and his pals.

Last fall's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" was the set-up movie for all this closure (and suffered from an abrupt ending that felt exactly like it was stopping in the middle of a story). "Part 2" is a full-bodied Potter picture that justifies the decision to break up J.K. Rowling's final book in the series into two films.

That decision offers two times the box-office bonanza, but it also offers little muggles twice the fun, and that's meaningful for a franchise that over the period of 10 years has allowed many of its fans to grow up along with Harry, Hermione and Ron.

"Part 2" dives right in from the previous film, taking shortcuts through exposition -- and for the majority of the shortest Potter film yet at 130 minutes -- that may leave some a bit lost.

It may result in them interrupting to ask of their pals, "What were the horcruxes? Who's Helena Ravenclaw, the Grey Lady? Who did what up in the tower when Professor Dumbledore was killed?"

Here's to hoping they at least know the story of how Harry became "the boy who lived" when, as a baby, he survived the attack by all-time dark wizard baddie Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents but also left a part of himself embedded in Harry -- literally.

That symbiotic relationship between heroic wizard Harry and the vile Voldemort has been the emotional through-line that carried the series, and it consumes much of the film's second half. But what has up to now been a classic buildup between good and evil ends in a foregone conclusion, as does too much of the denouement.

I felt deflated that the ending had such an inevitability that it went out with a whimper rather than a bang. These richly detailed films have touched my heart more profoundly on multiple occasions. An epilogue, set 19 years after the finale's events, is more laughable than meaningful due to flimsy makeup work.

Although "Part 2" doesn't deliver the emotional fireworks at the end to accompany the action pyrotechnics, it is quite accomplished in moving its audience in many quieter scenes.

This movie knows the power of silence in appropriate moments, like when Harry reflects on the many who have died in service to his long-running battle with evil, and with himself as a sort of wizarding world savior.

When a magical act allows for conversation between Harry and his mother, as well as others close to him who have died, it's a wonderful reinforcement of two series themes: Live life to the fullest despite the specter of death, and a parent's love is omnipotent.

The Harry Potter movies have been just as consistently thrilling in their use of special effects, and "Part 2" is a visual blast of astounding annihilation (Voldemort's forces wrecking the Hogwarts castle), mystical beasts (Hermione riding a dragon -- cool!) and 3-D effects that are worth the ticket surcharge.

I saw "Part 2" at Cinemark Tulsa's excellent Imax theater, and I wouldn't have wanted to see it any other way. When the gang is trapped in a vault in which everything they touch multiplies, one of the series' neatest tricks is spectacularly pulled off. When that fire-breathing reptile breaks free into the muggle world with the gang holding on for dear life, the giant-screen visual is best.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" is a fine finish to a franchise that most, including myself, wish would never end. But it is the end of an era, and we must now look elsewhere for movie magic. Film earnings How each Harry Potter film did at the box office (figures for gross in millions of dollars):

Movie Release U.S. gross Worldwide gross Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 2001 $317.6 million $974.7 million Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 2002 $262 million $878.6 million Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 2004 $249.5 million $795.6 million Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005 $290 million $895.9 million Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2007 $292 million $938.2 million Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009 $302 million $934 million Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 2010 $295 million $659.5 million

Source: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2 Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes

Theaters: (in Imax and 3-D) Cinemark Tulsa, AMC Southroads 20 (in 3-D) Cinemark Broken Arrow, Starworld 20, RiverWalk, Owasso, Sand Springs (in 2-D) Eton Square, Moviestar Cinema

Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images)

Quality: (on a scale of zero to four stars) Growing up Potter Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) through the first seven Harry Potter Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) through the first seven Harry Potter films. Images COURTESY/Warner Bros. Pictures and

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001)

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002)

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004)

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2005)

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007)

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2009)

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" (2010)

Source: Copyright (c) 2011, Tulsa World, Okla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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