The battles and flames of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

As the culmination of an eight film series, they could have easily just phoned in the whole movie. A legion of fans would have come to see this film no matter what they’d done with it.

Luckily the producers didn’t take that path. I wouldn’t call the movie ‘excellent’, but it’s on par with the most recent Harry Potter films. If you’ve been keeping up with the films, you pretty much know what to expect here.

Admittedly, the pacing is strange as the film is the second half of the narrative, but this is not a detraction from the film as a whole.

However, I will issue this warning: There is no ‘last time on Harry Potter’ at the beginning. It jumps right into the story at the post mid-point lul, and if you didn’t see the first half, or you don’t remember what was going on in that film. So I’d recommend seeing it first before heading out to the theater. It’s simply not written in such a way that it stands alone.

The advantage is that for the purposes of this film, all of the exposition is already out of the way, and there is nothing to sit through learning. The film goes immediately into the story and action of this part of the tale, and gets into the climactic action rather rapidly.

I don’t think I really need to tell you about the actors and the roles they play. If you know Harry Potter at all, you already know whether or not you like Daniel Radcliffe et al. There are no new characters or actors here, so no surprising performances, good or bad.

The scenes of battle are definitely the most impressive thing here. They are also a bit new. This is Potter on an epic scale. The stakes are higher, and the combat is fiercer. Battle scenes with hundreds of participants a la Lord of the Rings have never really been a Harry Potter thing, but here we get to see some wicked spell combat, and it all works well. The effects and choreography blend well to create the epic sense required for the final showdown of the Harry Potter legend.

A couple of scenes are a bit hokey, especially Harry’s imaginary conversation with Dumbledore, in which super obvious things are revealed. Similarly the epilogue is poorly presented, though for the sake of not completely spoiling the film, I’ll refrain from telling you why I think so. Mostly, however, the tone has been adequately picked up from the previous films. The stakes continue to rise, and the drama and characterizations rise to meet them.

The movie as a whole is a fittingly epic end to the series with no shortcuts taken. Most likely, you already know if you want to see this film, but other than the caveat of the first movie as a dire requisite to understanding, any fan of fantasy action films would not be poorly served to check this one out in the theaters. Skip the 3D showings, though: it’s that card-board-cutout-puppet-show, post-production, artificial 3D, so it’s more likely to give you a migraine than to put you in the action.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is in theaters now.