May 18, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 21 July 2011 12:31
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help parents choose what to watch. This week’s pick is the final film in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.The magic of Harry Potter reaches an artistic peak with the final film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, a thrilling climax to the eight-movie saga. While some earlier Potter adaptations could be challenging to follow, given all the plotlines and characters, this episode is creatively clear and easy to absorb. Except for the routine epilogue, the film pushes itself artistically at every moment. The result is a highly entertaining movie that easily stands on its own merits.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opens as an older Harry, Ron and Hermione contemplate their futures as they prepare for the ultimate showdown with the evil Lord Voldemort. Time has changed the trio. No longer are they the innocent children who played with magic as others might toss a football. They grieve for the death of the wizard Dumbledore; they question the motives of Severus Snape, who now runs Hogwarts School; and they face the realization that Harry must confront himself before he has any chance to defeat the dreaded Voldemort.
The film quickly creates one thrilling sequence after another, some with humor (as the trio tricks their way into the magic vaults) and some with heart (as they recount characters encountered over the years). At some moments, naturally, the film celebrates its origins, especially when it shares images of young Harry from the first films. But Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is too smart to get caught in its own film memory; it consistently brings chills to the heart and tears to the eyes without any let up.
When this film series began — in 2001 — the first two episodes from director Chris Columbus (Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets) tried to bring all the details of the books to the screen without letting the films find their cinema voice. Fortunately, the franchise found its style with the third installment, Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004, from director Alfonso Cuaron, who quickened the pace, tightened the plots, and focused on character development. When director David Yates took over with Order of the Phoenix in 2007, he committed to a depth of character and creativity of tone that continues through this finale. The final four films are as consistent as any movie franchise in memory in approach, pacing and artistic integrity.
Daniel Radcliffe, currently an effective song-and-dance man on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, delivers a strong performance of depth and feeling as Harry that, for the first time, could make him an Oscar contender. No matter how familiar we may be with his mannerisms and speech, Radcliffe can still surprise with the careful nuance he brings to each scene. As Harry the character has matured over the years, so has Radcliffe the actor, turning his climactic moments into a bravura demonstration of performing skill.
Alan Rickman brilliantly brings new clarity to the motivations behind the mysterious Severus Snape; Maggie Smith is, again, touching as Professor McGonagall; and Ralph Fiennes is breathtaking as the frightening Voldemort. In smaller roles, veterans Emma Thompson, Julie Walters and Helena Bonham Carter make the most of their limited screen time.
With Deathly Hallows: Part 2, just as the three films before, director Yates manages to take a beloved piece of literature, please the purists with his respect for the source, and dare to take creative chances to bring the pages to life on screen. We will sorely miss Harry Potter in the coming years, not only for the lessons the character offers, but for the achievements his films reach. Congratulations to the creators for concluding the series on such a high note.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
* Content: High. At its core is a meaningful story that is faithfully adapted for the screen.
* Entertainment: High. The thrills are many as Harry’s adventures continue without any moments that lag in pace or creativity.
* Message: High. Ultimately this nutritious film offers positive lessons on the meaning of family, friends and commitment.
* Relevance: High. Any opportunity to introduce children to literature, or reinforce their interest, is important to share.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: High. After you share this film, talk with your children about the struggles Harry faces and, ultimately, the life lessons he learns.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 runs 130 minutes. The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.
5 Popcorn Buckets
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