Harry Potter and the End of the Odyssey

After seven movies (and, before that, seven novels that became bestsellers and cultural touchstones), the odyssey of The Boy Who Lived comes to a memorable climax and conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (Warner), which debuts on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on Friday, November 11.

It’s been quite a journey, from the bright, gee-whiz world of excitement and possibility that the young heroes encountered in the “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (and they are young; it’s hard to remember they were so fresh and wide-eyed and inexperienced in the first film) to the shadow of doom that hangs over “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.” The final book was split into two movies and “Part 1” is the grimmest of the series. “Part 2” brings the saga to a close with grand spectacle, yes, but also a sense of urgency and mortal stakes, in part because its more active (none of that hiding out in the wilds stuff here) and in part because it finally brings all the conflicts to a mighty showdown. It’s the necessary pay-off, the dawn after the darkness of Harry and friends at their most despairing.

I like the work that director David Yates has done with the “Harry Potter” franchise. He doesn’t have a playful way with visuals or a gift for spectacle, but he understands the character and invests in their relationships and their evolution. That’s what gives the grand spectacle of the final battle — the wizardocalypse of the magical world, fought appropriately enough on the grounds of Hogwarts, the wizard school where Harry was prepared to meet his destiny — its dramatic foundation. Sure it’s big, a special effects epic of dueling spells and grand destruction with practically every surviving member of the sprawling cast lining up on one side or another, but by now they aren’t just casualties. We know them and their deaths have a resonance. Sacrifice means something in this series. As does friendship and loyalty and respect.

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Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I’m a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I’ve written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View.

I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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