REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two (2011)

Poster - Warner Bros.

Poster – Warner Bros.

The following is a spoiler-filled review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two.

In 2004, The Lord of the Rings film series was recognized at the Academy Awards in a big way. The Return of the King was nominated for eleven Oscars, and it, somehow, managed to win every single award it was nominated for. That was a big deal. It was a big moment for the Oscars, the Tolkien films, and all genre films.

In 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two was released. The Academy, however, chose not to recognize the Harry Potter film series in the same way. That is a shame. Because the Harry Potter film series actually ended on such a high note that it deserved a similar treatment. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two is fantastic.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two, Harry (played by Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (played by Emma Watson), and Ron (played by Rupert Grint) still need to find the last Horcruxes in order to be able to beat Lord Voldemort (played by Ralph Fiennes). Our three protagonists must return to very familiar places before taking part in the Battle of Hogwarts.

The fact that the last book was split into two films is really just irritating to me. But Part One did do a lot of work to set this film up, and that work really paid off. It doesn’t take long in Part Two before everything just feels right again. We get an exciting little adventure almost immediately, and then we return to Hogwarts for some of the best scenes in the entire film series.

As we come to the end of Harry Potter’s story, it is so effective to return to places from past films that we loved. Hogwarts, of course, was missed in Part One, but it’s more than just Hogwarts we return to. We return to the Chamber of Secrets and Gringotts. It’s all wonderful and exciting in the best possible way.

And then there’s the epic battle. Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters taking on Harry and Hogwarts students and professors. It’s a heartbreaking battle, and it’s wonderfully put to film. When you lose a character – even someone that may not have had a huge part to play in the series – it really hits you.

And while our three leads are still doing a wonderful job with these, now, iconic characters, they aren’t responsible for the moments you remember from this film. The stars, instead, are Maggie Smith, Matthew Lewis, Julie Walters, and the great Alan Rickman.

There is the fantastic Snape twist that works extraordinary well here, there’s the incredibly satisfying scene where Molly Weasley defends her daughter from Bellatrix Lestrange, the scene where Neville Longbottom proves that he has become the bravest student from Gryffindor, and the even more impactful scene where McGonagall battles Snape.

It is so satisfying to see all these supporting characters that you’ve grown attached to show what makes them who they are. And that really is the word to describe this film. Satisfying. Another important word, which best describes the best sequence in the film, is devastating.

Alan Rickman gives the best performance that any actor has given in this film series. His character’s aforementioned twist is impactful, but it doesn’t feel like an afterthought. Everything just feels right about it. So right that you feel bad for ever disliking that character. So perfect that it should bring you to tears. It is a shame that the Academy Awards didn’t even nominate Rickman for this performance.

While I really love the final film in the series, I still think Prisoner of Azkaban is the very best film in the Harry Potter franchise, but Deathly Hallows – Part Two isn’t far behind it in second place. It made sure that we’ll always remember this spectacular film series fondly. Endings are never easy, but these filmmakers really knocked this ending out of the park.

9 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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