‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ — a magical end to the beloved series

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

All’s well that ends well.

And the much-loved “Harry Potter” series has ended very well indeed.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the last film based on J.K. Rowling’s extraordinary books, wraps up things wonderfully well for the best-known wizard this side of Oz (and who knows? By now, Baum’s clever humbug may well have to settle for second place…or third.)

True, “Deathly Hallows” doesn’t begin well. If you aren’t already steeped in Harry Potter lore, you may feel a bit muggle-ish (and if you don’t know what a muggle is, you’ll be really stuck.)

Luckily, the bulk of the initial exposition is placed in the very capable hands of John Hurt, the wand-merchant we saw ‘way back in the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

“The wand chooses the wizard,” he wisely reminds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), thus laying out one of the picture’s essential themes.

Then we’re off and running (quite literally) as our intrepid trio — friends since Sorting Hat days — race around in preparation for the final stand-off against Evil Incarnate, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes with one of the diciest nose jobs in movie history).

Most of old crowd is back: serpentine Professor Snapes (Alan Richman), now headmaster at Hogwart’s (itself a very changed place, gloomy and infested with Deatheaters); feisty Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), who gets to do some fancy wand work; goofy Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), infused with an unexpected heroism; malevolent Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), still wavering between good and evil; and, most especially, Bad Girl Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter whom you just saw as Mrs. George VI in “The King’s Speech.”)

There are battles and wand-zapping and surprising flashbacks and a room that fills up with golden goblets (a fitting metaphor for the whole Harry Potter enterprise) and a giant flying dragon.

Yet the most amazing sequence is a quiet one — an exchange between Harry and his beloved Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) that’s so compelling the entire audience went dead silent, as in pin-drop silent.

Which reminds me: Parts of “Deathly Hallows 2” may be too scary for very little ones. Important characters are lost in battle and an adult-in-extreme discussion of mortality, though it’s handled beautifully, could raise some questions that might be inappropriate for your particular child (My advice: check it out yourself first; it’s certainly lends itself to more than one viewing).

At the same time, this scene is one of the most moving I’ve seen at the movies in recent memory. It could draw tears from, well, a Sorcerer’s Stone.

Aa usual, Hermione wants to make a plan before they rush off again and Harry retorts, “When have any of our plans ever worked? We plan, we get there and all hell breaks loose.”

Well, in this instance, the plan worked perfectly. We’re left just as we should be, spellbound in darkness, with our Harry Potter 3-D glasses.

Yes, Virginia, the movies can still make magic.

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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