Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2
Director: David Yates
Starring: Oh, you know …
Review: 3 stars (of five)—More if you’re a Potter freak.
Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows Part 2, part eight of the seven-part story, is the point at which the giant J.K. Rowling juggernaut disappears up its own ass.
All right, that’s a little unfair. After all, eight movies and a solid decade into the adaptation of a book series that appears to have sold more copies than the Bible, is it any surprise the filmmakers have decided to not bother making the story accessible to the casual viewer? Still, if you’re not freshly versed in all the wonky details of previous installments, you’ll be lost. Characters occasionally mutter snatches of potentially valuable exposition, but it’s not much help.
But let’s assume you remember the rules of the magic doodads, the origins of the random shards of glass, and why this Harry kid and Noseless Guy hate each other, and you can identify all the little student buddies who return to get their satisfying cameos with Harry and his two main sidekicks. Then you’re going to like the movie. It’s much faster and more interesting than Deadly Hallows Part 1, which moped endlessly in its own angst, and has a higher body count. This movie is Epic! Climax! from start to finish (other than a denouement whose main, noble purpose appears to be discouraging the pressure for sequel book/films beyond the existing set.
The world is grim, the heroes are heroic, and the villains are villainous. The cast is just what it’s always been, except Harry’s two key sidekicks seem both less vital and less annoying. The best turns are an underused Helena Bonham Carter, whose best scene is when she’s not quite herself, and Alan Rickman, who is hilariously over the top in his first scene, addressing students, and who gets a bit of a transformation toward the end that I saw coming, but not in the way Rowling and Co. pulled it off. Director Yates moves us through the story briskly, and the settings and creatures and spectacles are all fantastic in a way that reminds you there’s a reason Rowling was outselling God.
If you’re not a committed fan, well, it’s harder to care about Harry’s life or the fascistic rule of Voldemort (who makes battalions of faceless brick-in-the-wall students goose-step across the parade ground).
So: A satisfying thrill-ride conclusion to the epic film series for the pre-existing fan, and a bit of a bewildering, overwrought spectacle for the less clued-in. Figure out which one you are and decide whether it’s theater or Netflix for you.