Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter and the End of an Era

By River Shaughnessy, Top Critic
Denver, Colorado

Second only to The Simpsons, Harry Potter and his pals have been the most beloved fictional characters of my lifetime. Since first picking up "Sorcerer’s Stone" in 1997, it’s always just been a matter of time until I could sink my teeth into a new adventure – whether on the printed page or the silver screen. Sure, it’s been four years since the final book in the series was released, and boy, that was a bittersweet end to a truly magical time in this dog’s life. And although I’ve known for quite some time that the final film in the Harry Potter franchise was due out this summer, I’m not sure I fully realized what an emotional roller coaster it would be. But then the previews ended, we faded in, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

It’s hot out, and I do most of my breathing out of my mouth, so I won’t waste too much breath telling you about how the movie was pretty much perfect. How an ensemble cast of this caliber will likely never be replicated. Or how watching these kids grow up into truly talented young actors has been as practically rewarding as raising pups of my own. The truth is, it’s hard to turn a critical eye to something that has had such a profound effect on the imaginations of kids and adults of all ages, in every corner of the globe. So how did Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 stand up to it’s predecessors as well as the book it was based on? Like only Harry Potter could – with courage and grace.

Too many people deserve congratulations for the triumph that this final installment truly was. Trying to imagine the movie without Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis and so many others would be like watching a symphony without any instruments. While naturally the kids deserve a tremendous amount of credit for maturing onscreen and honing their craft the way they did, the incredible supporting performances only made the young wizards that much more watchable. And while I’m sure director David Yates had his work cut out for him, he did something I really appreciated it a filmmaker. He made it seem effortless, as if the shit really did hit the fan at Hogwarts, and he just happened to be there to capture it all on film. The only time I was pulled out of the moment for a second was to delight in the fact that they'd finally conjured a role for my darling Kelly MacDonald, as Rowena Ravenclaw’s ghost-daughter, Helena. But what I appreciate most is perhaps the finite end of the story and the franchise. No sequels, no prequels, no spinoffs. Bittersweet as it may be, this is the end of the road for Harry and his pals, and I wish them nothing but the very best. Accio, tissues.

Summary: Harry goes out with a bang, a sob, and a standing ovation.

Wags: 5/5

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