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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

‘Hallow’ed exit for Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Running Time: 130 min
Release Date: 2011-07-15
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By "Lawrence Toppman"
The Charlotte Observer

The film that picks up the “Deathly Hallows” narrative in midstream and caps the eight-movie saga and puts to rest the beloved boy wizard does everything you want it to do.

It quickly and efficiently drops us back into Harry Potter’s search for Horcruxes, the pieces of Voldemort’s soul that must be destroyed before Harry can kill him in combat.

It reintroduces old, lamented friends – Sirius Black, Lily and James Potter – while introducing us to a new Harry: mature, stubbly, weary, sadly willing to sacrifice himself like an antique Roman for the good of his besieged country.

It brushes fingers across our heartstrings without yanking them: One brief scene of mourning at Hogwarts after a battle that slays Remus and Tonks is enough to tell us how they’re missed. (If you need to be told who Remus and Tonks are, you’re reading the wrong review.)

It offers an extended segment that dismisses everything we knew about Snape from the films and replaces the sinister image with a sympathetic one. At last, Alan Rickman can drop his sneer and show deeper feelings.

It justifies the 3-D glasses, round ones in Harry’s style, with depth of field that suggests action in a real place. Battles impress, but scenes delving into Gringotts’ vaults or a secret room at Hogwarts immerse us in Harry’s world.

It gives brief sequences to two fresh characters, Dumbledore’s cynical brother (Ciarán Hinds) and the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw (Kelly Macdonald), and supplies cameos for a dozen old pals, from Professor McGonagall to Hagrid to Luna Lovegood.

Director David Yates has finally found an ideal combination of exposition and emotion in his fourth consecutive Potter project. Writer Steve Kloves, who adapted all of J.K. Rowling’s novels except “Order of the Phoenix” over the last 11 years, neither wastes a word nor leaves out any essentials.

Even fans who have seen all the movies – who else would watch “Hallows 2”? – may be surprised at the level of Daniel Radcliffe’s acting as Harry.

He not only holds his own against the slithery Voldemort of Ralph Fiennes and the dreamy Dumbledore of Michael Gambon, but he commands the screen when alone or yoked to Rupert Grint’s Ron and Emma Watson’s Hermione. He seems like a man among teens, a person on whose shoulders the wizarding world might rest.

If the film has weaknesses, they are the book’s weaknesses. Adults can die, but no kids we admire can be slain, whatever happens: A wand blast from the enraged Voldemort can’t kill even limping, worn-out Neville Longbottom.

Yet it’s unfair to complain about fidelity to Rowling’s vision: That’s what audiences want, what the filmmakers have pledged to give us, and what they do give us, more grippingly than ever this time.

“Part 1” didn’t justify the splitting of “Deathly Hallows” into two films: Yates and Kloves could daringly have combined and cut them into a 201-minute “Return of the King”-style finale that would have left us breathless without seeming a moment too long. But once that decision was made, I can’t think of any change that would have made “Part 2” more memorable.

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7/14/2011 - The Charlotte Observer - Lawrence Toppman

The series sees its heroes into adulthood – concisely, smartly and with impressive acting and effects.

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