Final installment of ‘Harry Potter’ makes a fitting end to a decade-long series that even a Muggle can appreciate
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor
There’s a tonal shift in the final installment of the Harry Potter series, part 2 of The Deathly Hallows, that’s almost arrestingly apart from what has preceded it. Maybe it’s the sense of finality that the story is truly coming to an end, a sentimental summing up that resolves most of the plot threads, explains just why Harry is so important and how Voldemort will finally be defeated. That coda gives us a sense of closure.
That the film works so well is astonishing, considering that Part 1, which came out eight months ago, was so disastrously heavy and convoluted. This one, dark as pitch, benefits from well-conceived set pieces and a streamlined arc.
Still, this Potter is a good 20 minutes shorter than the average for the series, and includes an epilogue well after the slightly unsatisfying climax. Given how it serves as the grand capstone to a popular series, you’d think they could have found time to, for instance, remind us what the deathly hallows of the title are. (None of the films has ever recapped important plot points, the way the Lord of the Rings series did — and that was just three films, not eight spread over 10 years.)
So, prepare to go in either expecting to have to relearn some facts: Voldemort divided his soul into several “horcruxes” which Harry, Hermione and Ron are trying to find and destroy; meanwhile, the Death Eaters are ruling Hogwarts under the iron thumb of Snape.
There are still some nearly insurmountable incongruities that only the most devoted fans could heedlessly overlook (how is it Voldemort and Harry can see inside each others’ brains, but never know where the other is? If they can fly instantly through space-time, how does a creaky metal fence act as such a devastating barrier? etc.). And Steven Kloves’ script is problematic and cliché-filled (Snape actually delivers the line, “Some of you are probably wondering why I summoned you here at this hour”).
But director David Yates has assembled some thrilling action sequences and added a Gothic flair that add weight and urgency. The siege of Hogwarts is a special effects extravaganza that evokes some real thrills and awesome moments, such as a phalanx of stone warriors defending the school against an onslaught of giants. It also affords some of the long-standing characters the opportunity to emerge from the shadows of the series, including a defiant Prof. McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and the dopey Neville Longbottom as a surprise hero.
The thrust of the film, though, is explaining just why Harry is so special, and Daniel Radcliffe, who literally grew up before our eyes in the role, shows a remarkable maturity amid all the hoo-ha. I still maintain that the movies border on incoherence, but you can’t deny the sincerity with which Radcliffe has always tackled the material, often sharing screen-time with some of the preeminent British actors of their age. When all is said and done, you cannot help but care for Harry and be vested in what happens to him. On that score, The Deathly Hallows Part 2 does not disappoint.
On the inside with a wizard: Dallas’ gay-friendly Harry Potter club
For some people, the Harry Potter series amounts to a good read, a franchise to criticize or a childish fantasy blown out of proportion. For others, though, it’s a way of life, the basis of friendships, even a social necessity.
For me, Harry Potter was the cornerstone of my adolescence. Prior to reading the series, I was little more than a home-schooled recluse. A three-month trip to Australia left me without much to do but read, and during my banishment, I devoured the entire series within weeks.
After returning to the Dallas, I joined the Harry Potter Dallas-Fort Worth club (HP DFW), an LGBT-friendly group of like-minded fans who shared my passion for the series. The group meets twice a month to discuss aspects of the books and movies. I was soon absorbed in the family-like atmosphere of the club and the intricacies of the fandom.
Members get together to not only argue over the pros and cons of house elves, but also to dress up as our favorite characters, attend Potter conventions and hold our own Potter-related parties.
I’m now the co-organizer for the group (“Filch of the Forums” is my formal title), and one of the many LGBT-identified individuals who are active in it. Like the characters in the series itself, HP DFW is an open-minded and supportive family of accepting nerds. And even Muggles are welcome.
— Draconis von Trapp
For more information, visit Meetup.com/hp-dfw
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 15, 2011.