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Harry's last hurrah

The boy wizard goes out with a satisfying bang in 'Deathly Hallows, Part 2.'

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'HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2': Daniel Radcliffe stars.
  • 'HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2': Daniel Radcliffe stars.

The family and I braved the dead of night last week to attend one of the midnight showings of the final Harry Potter flick, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2." Turns out it was a Potter film well worth standing in line with a bunch of sweaty, robe-wearing virgins. The darkest film of the seven-episode series, "Hallows 2" is, by turns, dangerous, suspenseful, funny and moving — it's unafraid to kill off treasured characters and show on-screen death and battle as befitting war. Best of all, the film gives the ol' heave-ho to a lot of the filler and red herrings of Rowling's text while keeping the stuff that matters. It's a lovely end to a classic series.

The film begins with Harry just having buried yet another of his heroic friends — the elf, Dobby, who has just saved the lives of Harry, Hermione and Ron from the clutches of the followers of Voldemort. Harry and his friends are still on the trail of a series of hidden horcruxes — pieces of Lord Voldemort's soul, secreted in mundane objects, which allow him to be immortal. Find and destroy all the horcruxes, and you destroy the Dark Lord and save the wizarding world. In the meantime, Harry's old adversary Severus Snape has taken over Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after the death of former headmaster and Harry's mentor Albus Dumbledore, turning it into a cruel place where punishment and torture are common.

In order to find the remaining horcruxes, Harry, Ron and Hermione have to go on a series of death-defying adventures, including breaking into (and out of) Gringott's Bank with the help of a semi-friendly dragon and going behind enemy lines to bust into the heavily-guarded Hogwarts castle itself. This scheme results in a rather thrilling siege of the castle and subsequent battle that put this reviewer very much in mind of some of the more sprawling war-making in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. In the midst of the conflict, of course, comes death for both old enemies and dear heroes, revelations about an unlikely ally and a new understanding about a person Harry thought of as one of his closest friends. It all culminates in a final showdown between Harry and Lord Voldemort, who holds the Elder Wand, the most powerful magical object in existence.

In the midst of that battle, Harry comes to a lot of new conclusions about both himself and the people he thought he knew, including some truly heartbreaking insight about professor Severus Snape, his connections to Harry's mother and Snape's true motives since the moment Harry's parents were killed. The moment Harry discovers the truth about Snape is moving, and Alan Rickman — like the rest of the cast — handles his big moment in the spotlight brilliantly, bringing several of the folks around the reviewer to tears.

The Big Three — Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson — also bring sensitivity and a real sense of sacrifice to the characters. It's Radcliffe's Harry, though, who winds up the magical Christ-figure, willing to give up his own life to save the world, and selling you on the gravity of that choice every step of the way. It probably won't spoil anything for you to hear that Harry and his friends wind up triumphing over the forces of evil. The film ends on a two-decades-in-the-future coda that put the perfect cherry on the whole cycle.

In short, it's a lovely end to a fairly decent series. You shouldn't miss this one, if only so you can tell your grandkids that you saw it in theaters. Like "Star Wars" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, it's destined to be a big thing for generations to come.

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