Love conquers all

(This review of the final Harry Potter film was first published in the July 14th edition of DentonTime, the weekly arts magazine of the Denton Record-Chronicle.)

Hermione, Ron and Harry fight. In the name of love.

We all knew it would come to this. In the eighth and final film of the Harry Potter franchise, the Boy Who Lived must face his death at the hands of Lord Voldemort.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 begins where the first part ended: at the crude graveside of Dobby the house elf, just one of many allies to Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) who have died in service of the young wizard.

Director David Yates blazes through certain parts of the book: the ambling hunt for the remaining three horcruxes — those objects where Voldemort chose to hide the seven parts of his soul — and the epic battle at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Yates even races through the deaths of Harry’s friends and protectors. There’s little time to mourn when the fate of love hangs in the balance. Yates wants Harry and sidekicks Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) to claim the pieces of the Dark Lord’s soul so Harry and his arch rival can get on with their final duel.

And, oh, what a duel it is. Gone is the distance between Harry and Voldemort. The Dark Lord’s legion of cronies, the Deatheaters, are even shunted off to Hogwarts for the big battle. Only the closest of the Dark Lord’s coven are present for the fight in the Forbidden Forest. But the big fight comes after Harry, helped along by the last of the Deathly Hallows, gets one last meeting with his mentor, Albus Dumbledore. The resurrection stone — a tip of the hat to the sorcerer’s stone that got this whole adventure going — affords Harry one more rich, riddle-filled conversation with the fallen headmaster (Michael Gambon). It’s almost as if Yates propels us through this protracted fight scene so we can, along with Harry, savor the few moments of intimacy with those who have come and gone, and those who will make it through to the bitter end. It is these scenes that satisfy — Harry in the forest with the ghosts of his parents, godfather and favorite professor; Harry at a celestial King’s Cross station; Harry with Dumbledore’s Army, that ragtag group of students who converted to Harry’s cause.

Then, there’s the redemption of a much-loathed character, revealed through scenes conjured up by the penseive, a magical basin where wizards can immerse themselves in a memory. This is filmmaking at its most fluent and delicious.

Steven Kloves’s script pares away what the movie doesn’t need, but keeps both the action and the heart and soul of the Potter mythology — Harry’s courage, the need for loyal relationships and the chance of winning one’s soul back. Eduardo Serra’s cinematography keeps the action in the colors of a fresh bruise, which makes Harry’s ascension a rare moment of visual joy. Alexandre Desplat’s score is heavy and sober. The 3-D effects are ho-hum.

The story, though, is simple and memorable. At the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, some loved ones have been sacrificed, but friends and lovers are cemented for life.

Voldemort is literally dust in the wind. Love remains. Love is worth dying for. Love is worth fighting for. And, at long last, love is worth living for.

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