By Dr. Craig D. Reid
Well, the party’s over, the end of a 10-year, 8-film and $2 billion domestic box office (worldwide more millions than 2011 British football player salaries combined, which incidentally is a lot) cinematic era with this final installment of a series of films adapted from a pseudo-children’s novel written by Joanne “Jo” Rowling (aka J.K. Rowling). The book’s main character was partially created out of Rowling’s childhood behaviour (may as well go with the British spelling) as being what is called in England a “potterer,” or in American terms a “procrastinator.” Fortunately Rowling is English because watching Harry Procrastin and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, just sounds like a bad film.
Rowling’s masterpieces center around the innocent, degraded young boy Harry Potter, whose destiny is uniquely intertwined with a secret parallel world where children who attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry can become witches and warlocks. Over the years in the books and movies, the series abracadabraed into a dark fantastical quassi-grown up story as betrayals, friendships and death decide the future of magic-kind and beyond.
To coin a long lost, anonymous Scottish poet, Death Hallows 2 is, “Pure golden magic.” Not unlike other big-budgeted, visual FX films where their story arcs faded into the deathly gallows of sequel-mania and filmmaker ego and complacency (The Matrix, Spiderman, and Narnia franchises to name a few) this final infection of Harry Potter-itis ends with a cure that leaves the emotions balanced, the logic intact and the gut satisfied. It’s comparable to the famous Star Trek parable, “Five year mission to go where no man has gone before,” where Potter’s 10 year mission finds that elusive end of the Hogwarts infinite universe within the finite space of two hours.
For those of you who have been committing literary suicide (not reading books), or fear the Siren-esque call of film theaters’ ever-increasing movie ticket prices (now even higher if you like indulging in I-MAX, 3-D versions) thus avoiding being part of Hollywood’s latest fib, “We’re still cheaper that a few gallons of gas,” here’s what’s going on in Deathly Hallows 2.
Intelligently chopping the last Harry Potter novel into two films, where Deathly Hallows Part 1 tiresomely deals with teen angst and a slow methodical build up for Part 2, which encompasses the last third of the book, the wait and payoff is well worth it. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are wizarding, biffo the bearing and incognitoing around avoiding danger, doom and death on a perilous quest to hound down and destroy the Horcruxes that contain clumps of Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) sooty soul. As fate would “Rowling” have it, their path ends back to the beginning of the first film, to Hogwarts, as loyalists to the old ways and Dumbledore hang on, waiting for the proverbial prodigal Potter to return in time to tackle Voldemort’s final agonizing siege…the Hogwarts war to end all wars.
Yet of course one of those three Deathly Hallows that Voldemort has in his possession, the elder wand, makes the Hogwarts heroes wonder and wander how double-entendre far they must go and imagine what kind of spectacle Harry can produce beyond his wire rims (by now you know they’re modeled after John Lennon’s glasses) to defeat the snub-nosed Voldemort.
There are really no surprises, cinematic twists or red herrings that are going to fool us, so Director David Yates simply has none of them in the film. Although perhaps the obvious and politically incorrect or correct (depending on who you are and your belief system), Deathly Hallows didn’t address the implications as to the sexual leanings of Dumbledore in the way that the Teletubbies unsettled many a parent, causing tots to pose tough questions.
Many of you out there will undoubtedly have their favorite moments, characters and scenes, certainly the dollopings of action, confrontation, cameos, strained “magic wand shooting” faces, and conflict in Deathly Hallows 2 fulfills the pace and splendour that is expected in any summer blockbuster with the Hollywood label. Certainly Alan Rickman’s performance as the beguiled yet tragically heroic-evil-good guy Severus Snape deserves an Oscar nod, as he excitedly drolls his words with the Janus misfit of a stiff upper-lipped two-faced demi-god combined with the quivering clenched lower lip of a Shakespearean hero on the wrong side of demurity.
Yet my favorite scene is wrapped in the mysticism of King Arthur and countless Chinese kung fu heroes that existed in the Chinese martial arts Jiang Hu underworld of lone swordsmen and upright heroes. In these worlds, swords have names such as Excalibur or the Green Dragon Blade, and swords have feelings, spirits and choose the warriors that are destined to wield them. Such is the folklore and legend behind magic wands, as the old, semi-sane, hemi-insane wand maker with a voice like sand and glue tells Potter that wands have feelings and that it is the wand that chooses their user and not the other way around.
What is so neat about the Potter films and their audiences is that we have grown together with the child actors, with no mucking about as to the elevating maturity levels of themselves and their alter egos. Indeed, the reel characters and actors are not children anymore, as we the loyal fans are also not children (yet there is a lot of childish stupidity instilled within our real generation).
And although all serious fans already know the material and the endings of each film years before they’re ever made, we just want to sit back and marvel at the story, imbibe in the imagery and absorb the environment that Rowling so meticulously created and held the filmmakers to sticking closely to her source material.
HP in England is well-known steak sauce and also stands for Houses of Parliament and of course Harry Potter. I wonder if Rowling had any subliminal, acronymical notions going on here. Maybe Voldemort represents today’s British government and it’s going to take a special person (s) in Britain’s HP to overcome the soul and money draining, negativity and taxes that exists within the government. Or maybe not.