Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Warner Bros.

The end has come. It’s a bittersweet day for Harry Potter fans across the world as the young wizard has raised his wand against his foe Voldemort for the final time. Truth be told, the most loyal fans, the ones who have read the successful series of books, have already known the fate of Potter and his close friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley for years. The final novel of J.K. Rowling’s epic teenage fantasy series was released in summer 2007. However, now that the film adaptations have come to a close, it seems like the world now must move on from the trials and tribulations of their favorite wizard and find a new hero. It’s always sad to say goodbye, but at least Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a fond farewell.

It’s hard to believe that the first Harry Potter film came out 10 years ago, just two months after 9/11. Maybe it was because the country was eager to escape reality that America–even the many of us who hadn’t read the books–so eagerly grasped on to the adventures of three kids attending magic school; but whatever the reason, it’s hard to deny these characters’ impact on pop culture.

As film franchises go, not only was the Harry Potter series wildly profitable, but it also set a high water mark in scope. There are franchises that have spawned more films–the 007 series comes to mind–but for the most part they’re episodic. Here, we see a character grow practically from birth to manhood. Trilogies are hard enough to pull off (just ask the Wachowski Brothers and Francis Ford Coppola), but with the Harry Potter series, filmmakers asked audiences to bear with them for eight installments, and had them eating out of their hands every time. Even though the people behind the Harry Potter series were working from source material with a built-in fan base, it’s still a remarkable feat.

But is Deathly Hallows: Part 2 any good? It is, and perhaps one of the best films in the series (I’d rank Half-Blood Prince as my No. 1). The story picks up exactly where Deathly Hallows: Part 1 left off. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has gained possession of the most powerful magic wand in the world (the Elder Wand) and Dementors have Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, now with the treacherous Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) at the helm, circled. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is public enemy No. 1, and he and his closest friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson respectively) must regroup in a last-ditch effort to end Voldemort’s reign of terror once and for all.

Whereas Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was more psychological and rife with dark tension, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is all crescendo–an explosion of supernatural action, epic set pieces and dramatic showdowns. Cinematically speaking, it’s a breathtaking film full of beautifully fantastic and frightening imagery. Its storytelling is as magical as its subject matter. David Yates, who directed the previous three installments of the series, is once again back at the helm. As the series has turned darker, his style seems to play up the gravity of the situation. Sweeping panoramas are intercut with quick close-ups, which takes the action from macrocosm to microcosm. Even as Hogwarts is severely damaged in a battle between the good wizards and the forces of Voldemort, the conflict is shown mainly through more of a personal lens as we see the looks on the faces of those affected by the violence. Later, as Harry ventures into a dark wood to face down his most feared foe, we’re presented with a stark and moody image, free from any pomp.

High fantasy at its best: dragons and witches, wizards and goblins. You were either on board way before this film came out or you weren’t. But for those who were caught up in this series, these films will be surely missed. Without the Harry Potter series to look forward to, cinemas worldwide will just have to wait with fingers crossed until the next generation-defining franchise comes along. Don’t hold your breath…