As Boyz II Men once sang, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” That will certainly be true for the Potterheads of today, who are about to savor their final look into the world of Hogwarts and Gringotts Wizarding Bank, of Deathly Hallows and the Ministry of Magic. They won’t be disappointed by what they find there. While this adaptation, like the others before it, has to sacrifice some chunks of the story in order to keep the movie at a reasonable length — and this is one of the series’ shortest, clocking in at about two hours — the essential arcs of the plot survive.
This film, like “Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” is much darker than the first films in both content and style. The cinematography reflects the mood of the plot using dulled tones and washed out colors. But the playful elements that drew us into the first books still make an appearance here and there, with a dizzying chase in Gringotts’ vault and Bellatrix Lestrange’s multiplying treasures keeping the grim atmosphere of the story in check.
Those who haven’t read the books or seen the previous movies had best brush up ahead of time, however. Major characters show up and disappear with little explanation given. But that doesn’t seem like the wrong choice, as such exposition would ruin the momentum. For the average Potterhead, this lack of context is no problem, but less-rabid fans might find themselves a little lost without some preparation ahead of time.
All in all, director David Yates, the man who took on four of the eight films, shows a steady hand with the most precious material of the series. It’s an emotional experience — both terrifying, with Ralph Fiennes’ disturbing as ever as Lord Voldemort, and heart-warming, given the genuine sadness of the three lead characters as they say goodbye to Hogwarts.
What’s next for Potter stars?
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
He can die saying he starred in “Harry Potter” and was Emma Watson’s first on-set crush; what more does Felton need to do? His choice: Getting attacked by primates in “Ride of the Planet of the Apes,” out this August.
Chances of success: Two out of five wands
Emma Watson (Hermione Granger)
Already a fashion magazine staple, Watson has left the genre ghetto for trendy indies. She’s just finished filming “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a comedy co-starring Paul Rudd, and will star opposite Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn,” about Marilyn Monroe. Sadly, she won’t have a college degree to fall back on just yet — Watson left Brown University last fall before graduating but will return in the fall.
Chances of success: Five out of five wands
Is he ambitious, or just a stoner? Either way, “Ron” will continue to do what he did in between “Potter”s: make likeable movies that no one will see, including the war drama “Comrade” and “Eddie the Eagle,” about the U.K.’s first Olympic ski jumper.
Chances of success: Three out of five wands
Alan Rickman (Professor Snape)
He’s always chasing Harry Potter — now all the way to Broadway. Rickman will star in “The Seminar,” a new play, this fall.
Chances of success: How dare you ask? After “Die Hard,” “Potter” and countless plays, the man’s a legend. Plus, we’re too scared to say otherwise.
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)
Currently singing and dancing in the Broadway musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” the 21-year-old earned rave reviews, even if the production itself didn’t. People want to like him and he wants to be liked. That said, “The Woman in Black,” a moody ghost story due next year, doesn’t look like a blockbuster.
Chances of future
success: Four out of five wands