The Herald Bulletin

July 14, 2011

'Potter' reaches magical end

By Heather Bremer
The Herald Bulletin

— “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II” ends the franchise’s magical run on the perfect note for Potter fans.

BACKGROUND: “Deathly Hallows, Part II” is the final installment in the eight-film franchise based on the seven Harry Potter children’s novels written by J.K. Rowling.

Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the series in 1999. Two years later, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” opened in theaters and went on to earn $974 million worldwide. From there, the series’ box-office muscle fluctuated but remained rock solid, powered by an avid fan base of all ages. “Chamber of Secrets” debuted in 2002 to the tune of $878 million. “Prisoner of Azkaban” was released in ’04 ($795 million), followed by “Goblet of Fire” in ’05 ($895 million), “Order of the Phoenix” in ’07 ($938 million) and “Half-Blood Prince” in ’09 ($933).

“Deathly Hallows, Part I” debuted in November of last year, earning the franchise’s second-highest box office total with $955 million. The film left fans clamoring for the last of the series yet bewailing its end.

Even before the monster $43.5 million midnight opening of “Deathly Hallows, Part II,” the franchise ranked as the most successful in history, when prices aren’t adjusted for inflation.

SYNOPSIS: The final chapter finds Harry, Ron and Hermione on a quest to destroy the Dark Lord Voldemort’s remaining horcruxes, which contain pieces of his soul and maintain his immortality. But Voldemort becomes aware that Harry knows his dark secret and launches a massive offensive to kill Potter and any who stand with him.

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY: There’s little any critic could say to sway Harry Potter fans from viewing the last film of their beloved franchise. And ultimately little to criticize.

As has been true with this franchise from the beginning, the look of the film and the many special effects are impressive. It’s quite a feat to seamlessly blend the fantastic with the Muggle.

Having grown up as these characters, leads Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson cap their coming-of-age with solid, heart-felt performances. (Though the sweetness of the first kiss shared by Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) reminds us they're still kids). And Alan Rickman stands out, masterfully portraying the duality of Professor Severus Snape.

The film should be lauded for its treatment of the numerous deaths of notable characters. Remembering that some of its audience is indeed too young to see such brutality, the movie never shows the actual death blows, only their sad results.

For the uninitiated viewer with a working knowledge of the series, the plot is easy enough to follow, though some of the nuances may be lost on those unfamiliar with the story.

The conclusion, 19 years after the epic battle at Hogwarts, delighted the young fans in this reviewer’s theater and seemed like a nod to their devotion — and possibly a hint that this is not the last we’ve seen of Hogwarts.

THE FINAL SCORE: Fans of the franchise don’t need a final score. This is exactly what they’ve been waiting for. And “Deathly Hallows, Part II” delivers brilliantly. 

EXTRAS: No extras attached to this final installment, though the final scene seemed like a special bonus for Potter fans.

And there are two perks not related to the film — most copies include trailers for “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.”