“He knows if we find them and destroy all the horcruxes, we’ll be able to kill him. I reckon he’ll stop at nothing to make sure we don’t find the rest. There’s more: One of them is at Hogwarts.” –Harry Potter
Everything ends, even the “Potter” series, with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Just don’t tell that to Warner Bros. Not too keen on seeing their most-lucrative franchise in history just stop with author J.K. Rowling’s final book, they broke it into two parts, two movies. It probably made “Potter” fans happy as well, as it ensured they wouldn’t miss even a smidgeon of the book’s detail, and it helped prolong the fun for one more picture.
“Part 2” begins where “Part 1” left off, with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), Luna (Evanna Lynch), Ollivander (John Hurt), Griphook the Goblin (Warwick Davis), and several others at the beach. Harry, Ron, and Hermione will continue looking for the horcruxes they need in order to defeat the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who has hidden bits of his soul in each of them, and the adventure will next take the heroes to Gringotts Bank and the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). Meanwhile, Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) has taken over as headmaster at Hogworts, and he has confined the students there inside its fortified walls.
Now, besides the various horcruxes, there are a few other magical objects involved in the story. They are the three “Deadly Hallows”: the Elder Wand, the Cloak of Invisibility, and the Resurrection Stone. Voldemort is trying to get his hands on these items because together they can make a person the “master of death.” Voldemort wants them in order to control the Wizarding world. Then he plans to subdue our own Muggle world. What’s next? No doubt, he wants to hook up with George Lucas and acquire a Death Star to conquer the galaxy and beyond. Only Harry and his pals can stop him.
As Harry finds and destroys each horcrux one by one, Voldemort loses yet more of his power. The problem is that wounded, Voldemort is more dangerous than ever. Or maybe they just ticked him off so much it seems as though he’s more powerful. Who knows, except that he’s really out to get Harry, whom he thinks is the only person to stand in his way of world (or galaxy or universe) domination. He may be right. What’s more, Harry comes to realize he must face Voldemort alone. So it all comes down to the final moments of the saga.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” boasts some of the best special effects, CGI, sets, and costumes of any film to come out this or any other year. The film is truly a marvel to behold. Everything from dragons to castles to hairstyles seems to look better in this last installment. I especially liked the escape from Gringotts and the detail in the imagery.
More important, the characters have matured to the point that we care about them more than ever as real people. Now young adults, the characters interact more rationally, more intelligently than before, the actors, too, maturing into their roles and developing their craft more effectively. Understand, though, that in this concluding segment, you’ll see little or no bickering among the main characters anymore. They’ve developed beyond that stage and come to an understanding of their relationships. Where in “Part 1” we saw the interpersonal relationships among the main characters evolving, we now find the primary relationship in “Part 2” is between Harry and Voldemort alone.
In any case, “Part 2” is no longer a children’s narrative but a dark, sinister, psychological, physical, and very adult adventure. In this regard, it makes for a more absorbing, more gripping, more entertaining drama than previous “Potter” films as we see that the consequence of all the action is no longer just fun and games but life and death. And as in real life, expect the serious death of loved ones.
Just as recounted in the book, the majority of “Part 2” describes the final great battle, waged at Hogworts, between the forces of good and evil, where everyone we’ve met in the previous seven movies (everyone who is still alive and a few who aren’t) shows up to wage war. However, that final battle goes on for so long, well over an hour, that it kind of dilutes some of the energy of the tale, making the big finale almost anticlimactic to everything that had gone before. Besides, it’s kind of hard to tell where the final battle actually ends, and when it does it’s well before the actual end of the movie. Because it seems to end before we expect it to end, it creates a slightly disconcerting feeling.
Nevertheless, the movie’s closing scenes are so stirring, and ultimately so touching, it’s hard to resist their charms. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” makes a fitting conclusion to a series that most of the film-going public has been following for over a decade.
As they did with “Part 1,” the Warner video engineers do a good job transferring the 2.40:1 ratio film to high-definition Blu-ray using an MPEG-4/AVC codec and a dual-layer BD50. The engineers leave in the film’s thin veneer of natural print grain, forgoing much or any DNR filtering or edge enhancement. It’s a fairly dark film, even for this series, so don’t expect to see too many bright colors or revealing details. Still, there is more-than-adequate definition, about what I remember from seeing in a movie theater; good contrasts; and solid black levels that, nevertheless, admit a fair amount of particulars to show through. When the picture is good, it is very good, indeed, and even in the shadows it looks fine. There are soft spots, to be sure, but, overall, it looks excellent.
Warners again employ lossless DTS-HD Master Audio to reproduce the 5.1 soundtrack, which seems to me even better than in Part 1. You’ll hear some splendid surround sounds during the more action-oriented sequences, which is much of the time, as well as subtle, environmental noises throughout the film, things like the rustling of leaves, the whispering of breezes, and the thunder of war, all making themselves known from around the room. You’ll also hear strong dynamics, a wide frequency range, and a clear, clean midrange in a very impressive audio experience.
Disc one of this three-disc Combo Pack contains the feature film and a number of extras. The primary bonus is a 167-minute Maximum Movie Mode documentary, “Blowing Up Hogwarts,” hosted by Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom). It uses picture-in-picture, featurettes, film clips, and interviews to take one behind the scenes of the filmmaking. Then, if you’d like to watch the “Focus Points” separately, there are twenty-six minutes of them: “Aberforth Dumbledore,” “Deathly Hallows Costume Changer,” “Harry Returns to Hogworts,” “The Hogworts Shield,” “The Room of Requirement Set,” “The Fiery Escape,” “Neville’s Stand,” and “Molly Takes Down Bellatrix.” The featurettes conclude with a “Final Farewell from Cast and Crew,” about three minutes.
Additionally, disc one contains a BD-Live connection (should you have your setup connected to the Internet); twenty-eight scene selections; English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese spoken languages; French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.
Disc two, also a high-definition Blu-ray, contains even more bonus items. First, there’s “A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe,” fifty-three minutes. Next, there’s “The Goblins of Gringotts,” eleven minutes, followed by “The Women of Harry Potter,” twenty-two minutes. After those items are eight deleted scenes totaling about six minutes; a “Warner Bros. Studio Tour–London,” about a minute and a half; and a “Pottermore” preview where J.K. Rowling takes a minute to introduce her new Web site.
Disc three contains a DVD copy of the movie in standard definition and an UltraViolet digital copy. The UltraViolet copy enables one instantly to stream to computers, tablets, or smartphones, anywhere, and also download to one’s computer. The “however” is that according to WB’s terms of agreement, one “must enter the redemption code by November 11, 2013 to redeem the Digital Copy offer. Digital Copy now includes streaming and 3 downloads. If offer redeemed prior to deadline, delivery of streaming and downloads available at no additional charge for 3 years from date of redemption.” And after three years?
Finally, the standard Blu-ray keep case (thankfully, not an Eco-case) contains an inner sleeve for the third disc, the case further enclosed in a light-cardboard slipcover with a 3-D holographic picture on the front.
Even though there is a certain sadness in every good thing coming to an end, with the magic of today’s movie reproduction in the home, one can relive the “Potter” adventures any time one feels the urge. Certainly, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” brings the Potter epic to a proper conclusion, preserving most of what author Rowling put into her final book. Whether we needed to have the book divided into two parts to preserve every last detail is open to question, but we have what we have, and it’s pretty darn good.
Besides, after viewing the story’s epilogue, you might just wonder if this really is the end of the “Potter” saga. Do we see signs of sequels or prequels in the future? Only time will tell.