Just over the past two months or so, I caught up with all the Harry Potter films. They’re pretty fun, the mythology is interesting, and I can see how it has a deep cult following. Plus, the Hogwart’s ride at Universal Studios is the most insane attraction I’ve ever experienced. The whole shebang came to an end last night with the eighth and final film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.2. It’s a solid and touching end to a series that started a decade ago with the innocence of The Sorcerer’s Stone. Judging by the amount of sniffling coming from cosplay attendees in my theater last night, I’d say it satisfied the diehards as well as the laymen.
Since Pt. 2 picks up immediately after Pt. 1 and rides a story set up since the first film, writing a synopsis of the film seems kind of ridiculous. Harry must destroy the remaining horcruxes and finally confront Lord Voldemort; putting an end to the spread of evil and saving the world of magical people and muggles alike. Leading up to this showdown, mysteries are finally revealed via dreamy flashbacks and dramatic confessions. We finally learn the truth about Snape and Dumbledore’s intentions for Harry – as he completes his journey of self-discovery and grows some stubble.
The emotional depths dredged in this film are deep and some of the revelations are dark as hell. Alan Rickman, after hamming up Snape’s wickedness for a decade, gets to turn over his cards and reveal his true hand. It was a heavy moment and people sniffled/sobbed at this moment the most. I almost wish I didn’t go to a midnight show because all the diehards who know the book by heart were there. They would preemptively giggle before a major moment or a standout line of dialogue, then erupt once it happened. More than once I missed one of these moments because the audience was already cheering, but whatever. It was their night, I was just a tourist. A “muggle,” as they say.
The final hour or so of the film is devoted to the Battle of Hogwarts that leaves the school’s amazing production design in ruins. The heavily CGI’d action sequences are outstanding and contain the key element to battle scenes that most action films throw away nowadays in favor of the agitating “shaky cam”: a sense of geography and space. There’s a lot going on, tons of characters battling, but we can actually tell what the hell is happening. No pointless close-ups and no nauseating handheld bullshit. Just a well-choreographed magic apocalypse.
As in the previous films, the three leads (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint) are the weakest characters and are upstaged in every scene by old British farts. Can you really put a squirt like Radcliffe in a scene with Hans Gruber and expect me to care about him? But that’s okay, the supporting characters all get to shine – even Warwick Davis as the conductor goblin Filius. Ralph Fiennes kills it and I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Voldemort. The three magical amigos are all grown up now and in a somewhat corny epilogue, we get to see a glimpse into their future. The CGI used in this scene to make them look even older unsettled the crap out of me.
This film is a hard PG-13 thanks to some disturbing imagery (Voldemort fetus?) and some on-screen violence (werewolf slurping at the neck of a little girl?). I saw it in 3D, but it doesn’t add anything to the film. As usual. Especially since the film is so dark and gloomy to begin with. 3D dims a film down a lot because of the shade of the lenses so it made this film nearly pitch black! Not really. But I hate 3D.
So farewell, Potter franchise. Unless JK Rowling wants more money. I hope not though. Hallows is as gratifying and solid as an ending can be.
This review originally appeared on the Mishka Bloglin.