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"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" 4.5/5 Pitchforks Rated: PG-13 Staring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson Opened July 15

Every couple of decades a cultural phenomenon encompasses a generation. This time the worldwide following was “Harry Potter,” and 14 years after the first book was published in the United Kingdom, the final film adaptation, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” turns the last page on J.K. Rowling’s beloved saga.

I, like many, grew up reading about Harry’s exploits and watched as Rowling’s wizarding world came to life through the meticulous character crafting of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ronald Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger).

Although the 18-hour-long film saga began unceremoniously, with a slew of doubtful critics and lackluster direction, a growing fan base of Rowling’s masterful septology stayed true to the series and the silver screen epic concludes wonderfully.

Director David Yates and Screenwriter Steve Kloves begin “Deathly Hallows 2” as part one ended, with the baneful Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) seizing the all-powerful Elder Wand from Albus Dumbledore’s (Michael Gambon) pearly white tomb.

Why the final book was split into two films became increasingly apparent early on in “Deathly Hallows Part 2,” and after seeing the result I agree wholeheartedly with the action. Yates and Kloves used Part 1 to flush out the story by building character relationships and exploring the daunting task of locating a way to destroy Horcruxes, and turned Part 2 into a war story concentrating mostly on the climactic battle between good and evil, and how only through love is the dark magic of hate conquerable.

As the shortest “Harry Potter” film, “Deathly Hallows Part 2” moves incredibly fast, and in some instances, particularly major deaths and the duel between Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), it’s too fast-paced.

It would have been greatly appreciated if it had taken a moment away from the vigilantly constructed action to build upon and absorb crucial moments in the book, and with a run time of only 130 minutes, the film feels as if it should have been longer; which brings about the biggest disappointment about Kloves’ adaptation of “Deathly Hallows.”

Presumably in pursuit of a more streamlined and enthralling action-based finale, Kloves plays jump-rope with Rowling’s novel by skipping entire heartfelt chapters, such as the backstory of Dumbledore’s siblings, and removes stirring dialogue that instilled further emotional connections to many of the characters. Consequently, the final moments of the film felt incredibly rushed and lackluster.

Nevertheless, the threadbare character development within the movie’s script didn’t stop emotionally riveting scenes from appearing due to award-worthy performance by a talented cast who have skillfully matured their roles over the past decade.

The standout performance of “Deathly Hallows Part 2” belongs to Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) for his ambiguous presentations when Harry challenges him in front of the entire school, and shortly after Snape’s final encounter with Voldemort in which Harry discovers Snape’s true agenda through the mysterious pensive.

Seldom spotlighted characters, such as Professors Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and Filius Flitwick (Warwick Davis), were given short-lived scenes of glory that allowed them to show a bit more humanity through resisting the darkness pervading Hogwarts.

McGonagall’s duel with the sepulchral Snape was magnificent. Not only the visual power, but also the emotional presentation from the actors made this scene one of the most memorable in Smith’s “Harry Potter” career.

Following suit with the despairing tone of the film is Hogwarts itself. The choice of lighting and sound within the school is perfect and creates a supremely ominous atmosphere that even a Patronus Charm wouldn’t be able to vanquish.

Through Alexandre Desplat’s masterful score, the effect He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is having on the wizarding world is immediately present, and the foreboding tone stays consistent throughout the film.

This darkness even pervades scenes of humor.

One of the more light-hearted scenes of the movie is when Hermione impersonates Bellatrix Lestrange in order to break into Lestrange’s Gringotts vault, where Harry believes to discover a Horcrux. Carter appears to have a joyous time impersonating Watson’s impersonation of her, and in order to prevent being discovered as frauds Harry casts the Imperius Curse without hesitation, one of the three unforgivable curses, on an old Gringotts goblin. Still succumbing to the laughs from Carters wonderfully entertaining acting it takes a moment for the darkness of Harry’s actions to resolve.

Yates, Photography Director Eduardo Serra, and Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Burke outdid themselves with the Dark Lord’s assault on Hogwarts.

Every aspect of the visually powerful war is perfect from the firework-like explosions from hundreds of curses impacting the protective barriers put in place by Hogwarts’ teachers, to the blitzkrieg-like destruction of Hogwarts after those barriers fell, and the epic final duel between Harry and Voldemort.

Streaks of emerald and red burst throughout the otherwise grey scenes, the ramparts crumble with astounding vividness nearly crushing dozens, and giants wreak havoc upon hundreds of bewitched stone soldiers. It’s a great visualization of the vague descriptions given in Rowling’s text.

In consequence of the superb acting captured by Radcliff, Grint, Watson, Gambon, and Rickman, combined with Desplat’s perfected score, several scenes reached an emotional nerve causing me to choke up.

Stifled sobs could be heard in the crowd throughout some of the film’s saddest moments: the Weasley’s mourning over Fred’s corpse, the bodies of Lupin and Tonks whose splayed hands never quite get to grasp one another in their last fleeting moments of life, a bloody and beaten Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) carrying a body out of the forbidden forest alongside a dominating crowd of death eaters, Snape’s memory flashbacks, and Neville Longbottom’s (Mathew Lewis) camaraderie speech.

Yet through the film’s depressing music and atmosphere, only one scene was heartbreaking enough to cause a tear to trickle from my eye. Surrounded by a crew of wonderful actors, Radcliffe gives the emotionally stirring performance of his “Harry Potter” career when Harry finally accepts his fate and encounters the reassuring ghosts of his family and close friends as he embarks upon his final challenge. The scene demonstrates a distraught yet accepting Harry, surrounded by wispy forms of loved ones who sacrificed themselves so that he may survive, coupled with Dementor-approved music, and the previous encounter with Hermione and Ron plus the knowledge of what action he must complete, the scenario is the movie’s zenith of heartbreak.

It’s difficult saying goodbye to something that someone spends over half of their life with; whether it’s a good friend, family member, or even a beloved and relatable ensemble of quirky characters found in seven magical books, and eight lustrous films.

Although the “Harry Potter” series is officially over, for those who seek it, Hogwarts will always remain a loving home.

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