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The Bravest Man I Ever Knew

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

The whole Harry Potter thing was pretty amazing. The books are one thing; a long-running fantasy series is not without precedent, although the success of the series probably was. But it’s the film series that truly seems amazing to me. A decade-spanning eight movie series that featured a cast that grew up with its fans. That’s a hell of a thing, and I can’t imagine it ever happening again. I’ve been visiting Hogwarts for the better part of my life now, and bidding goodbye to the franchise as I enter real adulthood is as fitting and bittersweet for me as it is for Harry, Ron and Hermione.

This is the eight movie in the series, you’re either going to see it or you’re not. Nothing is going to persuade anyone at this point. Indeed, not only is it movie eight, it’s also a part two, so the barrier to entry for newcomers is damn near insurmountable. This is a movie for the fans. The ones who read the books, learned the spells, got the tattoos. There are some parts of the movie that straight-up won’t even make sense to those that have just seen the films, since important plot points play off of minor details that were omitted from earlier movies. That’s what happens when a series has so many different directors. But the big scenes will work for anyone who has made the slightest effort to keep up, as this conclusion centers around epic battles and long-awaited revelations.

Picking up immediately where Part One left off, Harry, Ron and Hermione are still hunting down Lord Voldemort’s horcruxes. Things remain as bleak as ever, The Dark Lord now has the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand, and the Order of the Phoenix is weak and spread out. As Harry learns more about horcruxes, the more disturbed he gets, leading to some hopefully shocking revelations and epic battles. Notably, The Battle of Hogwarts, in which students and teachers stand united against Voldemort’s army, is one of the most awe-inspiring battles this side of The Lord of the Rings. And what makes it all work is that there is so much emotion behind these battles, I actually cared about what would happen, unlike a movie like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Every shot of this incredible battle is brimming with familiar faces, some who we won’t ever see again.

Little is changed from the book and most of it is in the service of making the story work better in this format. Professor McGonagall’s role is a little different and a lot more bad ass because, why not? Maggie Smith earned (and nailed) it. Alan Rickman is perhaps a little too indulgent in his Snape-isms, but who cares? It’s the last time he gets to be that crazy son of a bitch. Daniel Radcliffe has grown into a real actor and provides the film with a strong star, along with Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. Everyone has their time to shine here, making Part Two one of the most satisfying movies of the year.

Harry Potter was an incredible series. Somewhere between the Star Wars and Up series. I can’t imagine anything else taking up its mantle, and I don’t really want anything to… At least not for a while. Let there be no doubt, this is the end of the series: they’ve filmed everything. In an era of unsatisfying remakes and prequels (see: all comic book movies not made by Marvel or Chris Nolan) it’s been a real ride seeing one of the most imaginative worlds in recent fiction come to life. The Harry Potter series has given me a lot, everything from jokes about characters resembling people I know to laughter at Amazon reviews about the flying broomstick vibrator. And now it’s done. It’s done well, to be sure, but it’s done.

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