As I watched the juicy and satisfying Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, it occurred to me how patient the series has been.
Here we were at the eighth and final film of the series (based on seven books) and we still didn’t know Harry’s exact link to the evil Lord Voldemort, still didn’t know if the brooding Severus Snape (the indispensable Alan Rickman) was good or bad (or both), still hadn’t seen Harry’s loyal sidekicks Hermione and Ron consummate their unspoken love with a kiss, and, most stunningly, still hadn’t witnessed Harry and Voldemort in any kind of epic showdown.
And yet, none of the previous films seemed like filler—each had its own internal rhythm and narrative, its own demons to slay (real and metaphorical), its own talismans to collect, its own pieces of the Harry Potter/Voldemort puzzle to be revealed. We’ve grown to love and care about these characters and we’ve been too happily ensconced in JK Rowling’s lavishly orchestrated world of muggles and wizards and enchantments to be restless.
Our patience has been rewarded: Unlike some finales that don’t quite satisfy (*cough* Lost), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 gives us everything we could’ve possibly hoped for—and more.
So yes, expect battles and revelations and untimely deaths and unexpected resurrections. There’s even a riveting standoff between Team Hogwarts and Voldemort’s dark army of Deatheaters, with a rather unlikely hero.
I’ve talked many times about the film’s remarkable casting directors, but I’m still in awe of their prescience. How could they have known that Emma Watson would blossom into such a keen beauty? That Rupert Grant would become such a sturdily lovable comic foil? That Daniel Radcliff would be able to hold the series together with his old soul and slightly tormented gaze?
I never read the books and was admittedly slow to appreciate the series—it was the third film, Alfonso Cuaron’s moody Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that really drew me in. And yes, the films have gotten darker (and therefore, more appealing to me) as the series has progressed. But now, when I look back at the cute, almost Disneyfied Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (which I panned), with a pint-sized Radcliffe peering out from under his enormous eyeglasses and bangs, it all seems so fitting. Strip away the fantastical elements and Harry Potter is really about innocence lost and adult wisdom and valor gained—and the films, the actors, the characters (and, yes, we the audience) have all grown up together. I’ll miss us.
To read my complete review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 check out the August issue of Baltimore magazine.