Previously on Harry Potter: Big bad Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave while Harry mourns the loss of his wee elf friend Dobby and begins his search for the remaining Horcruxes.
If that recap leaves you with hazy memories of last year's Deathly Hallows - Part 1 you may want to pop in the DVD before taking on the Harry Potter franchise's grand finale Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The eighth film in the series doesn't pull any punches demanding your knowledge of the saga's previous events and crescendoing off a foundation of character and connection built over a decade of cinematic excursions. That's not a fault -- Deathly Hallows - Part 2 serves hardcore fans and dedicated patrons of the franchise alike bouncing elegantly back and forth between explosive action and emotional conclusions. At this point that's what matters.
Whereas Deathly Hallows - Part 1 took Harry Hermione and Ron on a gritty race through the real world Part 2 brings the trio back to their home base Hogwarts School of Magic and Child Death where their colleagues and professors find themselves defending it against the empowered Voldemort and his band of Death Eaters. Similarly to Transformers: Dark of the Moon Deathly Hallows - Part 2 spends most of its run time following various established characters as they navigate the epic battle. Unlike the clunky erratic action of TF3 director David Yates manages to execute the sequences in Potter with bravado making sure we give a damn every time Potter discovers a secret from the past blows a Death Eater out a window or glances upon one of his closest friends lying dead on the floor.
For all its otherworldliness Potter is and always has been a human story one that puts its characters before spectacle. But when Yates and his team of FX wizards do unleash their bag of spells on the screen they do it with a very BIG bang. Deathly Hallows - Part 2's scope is on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy bringing everything from trolls to spiders to animate statues into the wizards' massive assault. The franchise hasn't seen action on this scale before but Yates never misses a beat or opportunity to dazzle with visual eye candy. Turning the crumbling of Hogwarts castle into a riveting poignant experience -- true magic.
Once again Daniel Radcliffe Emma Watson Rupert Grint and a cast of veteran British thespians deliver the necessary gravitas to anchor Potter's fantastical elements in reality. With everything finally on the line in Deathly Hallows - Part 2 each performance is at its best and Radcliffe steps up to the plate to make his final showdown with Voldemort one to remember. He spends most of the movie covered in dirt encrusted blood on his face and a harrowing sense of death behind his eyes. Heavy material but Radcliffe pulls it off.
Few franchises have the chance that Harry Potter has been fortunate enough to receive to follow the same familiar faces through years of ever-complicating story. Thankfully Deathly Hallows - Part 2 doesn't squander the opportunity. The saga swells with a triumphant final act one that never forgets why people love the movies in the first place. The adventure the awe the comedy the thrills the people the places the things -- those are the elements that make Harry Potter grand and they return in perfect form once more to say good-bye.
Azad, who played witch Padma Patil in four of the boy wizard movies, alleged her father Abdul and brother Ashraf had attacked her at her home in Manchester, England last May.
The relatives were said to have argued with the Muslim star, 22, after overhearing her talking on the phone to her Hindu boyfriend.
The altercation reportedly escalated and turned violent, with the pair threatening to kill the actress, after she refused their demands to end the relationship.
Death-threat charges against Azad's father and brother were later dropped by prosecutors following a desperate plea from the star, and they were both cleared at Manchester Crown Court, England in December (10).
Azad's father was bound to keep the peace for 12 months and her brother was banned from contacting his sister at her new home in London.
However, Ashraf Azad admitted to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was ordered to serve jail time during sentencing on Friday (21Jan11).
Azad, who played witch Padma Patil in four of the wizard movies, alleged her two family members attacked her at her home in Manchester, England in May (10).
Her father Abdul and brother Ashraf were said to have argued with the Muslim star, 22, after overhearing her on the phone to her Hindu boyfriend, demanding that she end the relationship.
The argument reportedly escalated and turned violent, with the pair threatening to kill the actress.
Azad later begged prosecutors to drop the death-treat charges against her father and brother and they were both cleared at Manchester Crown Court, England on Monday (20Dec10). The actress did not attend.
However, Ashraf Azad pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and has been bailed until sentencing on 21 January (10).
Ashraf, who was warned by the judge he could face jail time, has been banned from contacting his sister and from travelling to London, where she now lives.
Judge Roger Thomas QC told him, "Domestic violence can result, even for a man such as you, in imprisonment."
Azad's father was bound to keep the peace for 12 months.
Perhaps Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows should have been a trilogy. Splitting the sprawling finale to author J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard saga into three parts — as opposed to its chosen two-part incarnation — might have come across as shameless profiteering (admittedly a not-uncommon practice in this town) but it wouldn’t have been without merit. At 759 pages Rowling’s source novel is said to be a rather dense work plot-wise; surely it could have easily warranted another installment?
I only say this because Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 though certainly a decent film clearly strains from the effort required to fit the book’s proceedings into a two-act structure. While Part 2 slated to open approximately six months from now is alotted the story's meaty parts — namely the spectacular Battle of Hogwarts and its emotional denouement — Part 1 must bear the burden of setting the stage for the grand confrontation between the forces of Light and Dark magic and framing the predicament of its three protagonists teen wizards Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) in suitably dire terms. And it's quite a heavy burden indeed.
As the film opens the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) having assumed control over Hogwarts since the events of the preceding film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has wasted no time in initiating his reign of terror. As far as historical evil-dictator analogues are concerned Voldemort appears partial to the blueprint laid by Stalin as opposed to that of his genocidal pact-pal Hitler. Enemies of the Dark Lord's regime are prosecuted in dramatic show trials presided over by the Grand Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) while muggles (non-magic folk) and half-bloods are denounced as "undesirables" and “mudbloods” in Soviet-style propaganda posters and forced to register with the authorities.
As the only viable threat to Voldemort’s dominion Harry and his allies are hunted vigorously by Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and her goon squad of Death Eaters. The Boy Who Lived now fully grown and in more or less complete command of his powers is still no match England's nasally scourge. Labeled "Undesirable No. 1" by the Gestapo-like Ministry of Magic he's is forced to go on the lam where he labors along with Ron and Hermione to solve the riddle of Voldemort’s immortality.
For those not well-versed in Rowling’s source material the film’s opening act is a frustrating blur: After an all-too-brisk update on the bleak state of affairs in Hogwarts we are hastily introduced (or re-introduced) to a dozen or so characters the majority of whom are never seen again. A few even perish off-screen. Had we gotten a chance to get to know them we might be able to mourn them as our heroes do; instead we’re left racking our brains trying to recall who they were and how they figured in the plot.
Rowling's flaws as a storyteller — the over-reliance on deus ex machina devices (in this case we get both a doe ex machina and a Dobby ex machina) the ponderous downloads of information (not unlike those of that other uber-anticipated and somewhat overrated 2010 tentpole Inception) the annoying ability of characters to simply teleport (or "disapparate") away from danger etc. — are more evident in this film than in previous chapters. And rather than obscure these flaws director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves both franchise veterans arguably amplify them.
What saves the film are Rowling's three greatest achievements: Harry Ron and Hermione who along with the actors who play them have evolved beyond the material. The film's narrative gains its emotional footing during the heroic threesome's exile ostensibly a series of camping trips — with tents and everything — during which they reflect on their journey together the challenge that awaits them and the sacrifices it will require. Though they occasionally verge on tedious these excursions into Gethsemane allow us precious quality time with these characters that we've grown to adore over the course of seven films even if the plaintive air is spoiled a bit by some rather puzzling attempts at product placement. In their rush to flee the Dementors and Death Eaters it seems that they at least took care to pack the latest in fall fashion:
As devout readers of Rowling's novels know all too well the only foolproof shield against Voldemort's minions is the Bananicus Republicum charm.
The actress, who plays witch Padma Patil in the wizard movies, alleged her two family members attacked her at her home in Manchester, England in May (10).
Her father Abdul and brother Ashraf were said to have argued with the Muslim star after overhearing her on the phone to her Hindu boyfriend, demanding that she end the relationship.
The argument allegedly escalated, with the pair threatening to kill the actress.
Afshan appeared at a Manchester court on Monday (12Jul10) in a separate room from her relatives, who were committed for trial despite her plea to drop the charges.
In a statement, the star said: "I dearly love my father and brother. The proceedings have caused me no end of distress and if it goes ahead, it will make things much worse for me."
Prosecutor Jennifer Baines told the court, "The alleged argument essentially stems from the brother finding out that his sister was in a relationship with a Hindu male. This leads to what the Crown would say is an assault on her, with the Bengali words, 'Just kill her' said."
A lawyer for Ashraf Azad argued: "Over the last several weeks the complainant in this matter has made it clear to the prosecution directly that she does not support the prosecution at all in this matter."
The men have been granted bail on the condition they do not contact Afshan.
The case is due to be heard on 23 August (10).
The actress, who plays witch Padma Patil in four of the wizard movies, signed a statement alleging that the two family members attacked her at home in Manchester, England in May (10).
Her father Abdul and brother Ashraf allegedly began arguing with the star over her boyfriend and demanded that she end the relationship.
The argument allegedly escalated, with the pair threatening to kill the actress.
The pair appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday (29Jun10) accused of threatening to kill Afshan. Her brother, 28, was also charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The pair was granted bail.
But lawyer John Wolfson, who is defending the father and son, insists the actress is already regretting her statement, and has tried to retract it through Britain's Crown Prosecution Service three times.
He tells Britain's Daily Express, "This is a desperately sad situation and she has never wanted her father and brother to be locked up. She has tried on three occasions to retract her statement and has pleaded with the Crown Prosecution Service not to proceed.
"I sincerely hope for the family's sake that this can be quickly and happily resolved. My client and his father have already denied the charges and will maintain that plea."
In the U.K., a victim can retract their police statement, but the Crown Prosecution Service can still pursue the charges.
The pair is expected to stand trial on 12 July (10).
The 22-year-old, who plays witch Padma Patil in four of the wizard movies, was allegedly attacked by her two family members at her home in Manchester, England in May (10).
Her dad and brother allegedly began arguing with the star over her boyfriend and demanded that she end the relationship.
When Afshan refused she was allegedly attacked and left "badly bruised", reports Britain's Daily Express.
Abdul Azad, 54, and his son Ashraf, 28, appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday (29Jun10), accused of threatening to kill Afshan. Her brother was also charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The case was adjourned and both Abdul and Ashraf have been released on bail until 12 July (10). As part of the bail conditions the two men must not contact the actress at her new London address, where she is thought to be staying with friends.
Speaking outside of the family home on Thursday (01Jul10), accused brother Ashraf Azad said: “I don’t want to comment on anything. My dad is at the solicitors at the moment. We are going to get trouble from the community now. I am not happy at all. I could lose my job over this because the people at work will see this.”
As the fifth year at Hogwarts begins most of the wizardry world is having a hard time believing Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned further propagated by the Ministry of Magic who refuses to recognize anything evil is brewing and blames all the hullabaloo on Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). The Ministry even interferes with Hogwarts business by making Ministry employee Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor whose outwardly sweet demeanor hides a sadistic streak a mile wide. She thinks the children should only learn about the Dark Arts “theoretically” and tortures all those who disagree. But the Voldemort threat is a reality and Dumbledore has re-formed the Order of the Phoenix a group of witches and wizards that prepares to battle the Dark Lord. Harry is unfortunately being kept in the dark for his protection of course even as his connection to Voldemort grows stronger and he’s royally peeved at being ignored. Urged on by Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) he forms his own order of Hogwarts students called Dumbledore’s Army to teach them what defenses against the Dark Arts he has already learned. Oh yeah Harry also shares his first kiss but make no bones about it—love is the furthest thing on Harry’s mind when the crap hits the fan. War is imminent. Everyone steps up their game in Order of the Phoenix. Radcliffe Watson and Grint have shed their adolescent whininess and aw-shucks goofiness to give their characters the greatest depth so far. They are forced to grow up pretty quickly in Order with little time for any playfulness and the three actors handle the seriousness with aplomb. Of course both Radcliffe and Grint have already ventured out of the Potter world—Radcliffe shed more than just adolescence on stage in a production of Equus while Grint lost his virginity in the indie Driving Lessons--and their extra experience shows in Order. Also good are Matthew Lewis as the usually clumsy Neville Longbottom who shows his mettle in more ways than one and newcomer Evanna Lynch as the slightly off-kilter Luna Lovegood who proves to be a loyal member of Dumbledore’s Army. But the kids have to keep up with the talented adult cast especially Oscar-nominated Staunton (Vera Drake) as Umbridge. The veteran actress’ interpretation of one of J.K. Rowling’s nastiest characters so far in the Potter lore is spot-on down to the pink wool suits and irritating twitter “ahem” she uses when she wants your undivided attention. Helena Bonham Carter also makes an impression however over the top it is as the evil Voldemort follower Bellatrix Lestrange. Does she ever want to look pretty onscreen? Then there’s the laundry list of Brits whose time onscreen may be short but is nonetheless memorable including Alan Rickman as the sneering Prof. Snape; Gambon as the wise but flawed Dumbledore; Gary Oldman as the kindly Sirius Black Harry’s only real family; and of course Fiennes as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. His late-in-the-game appearance once again throws you for a loop. It stands to reason that at five movies in moviegoers would have a favorite Harry Potter flick by now. Those who love those Triwizard Tournament special effects might feel The Goblet of Fire was the best; or Prisoner of Azkaban for its time-bending action. Yet The Order of the Phoenix may be the one movie that speaks directly to the fans of the books. Without as much wide-eyed wonderment or wizardry flash the story is still chockfull of compelling details that are absolutely pivotal to the continuing Harry Potter saga. Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg (Peter Pan) and director David Yates (HBO’s The Girl in the Café) manage to wade through this volume of information and cut successfully to the chase with great effect. Yates who has signed on to do the sixth movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince even shows an affinity for action in the final dramatic confrontation between good witches and wizards and bad ones. But overall Order of the Phoenix may leave audiences not as well-versed in the novels a little itchy for some good old-fashioned wand-waving and Disney special effects. Thing is it’s just going to keep getting darker and darker for Harry and his crew. The days of happy fun playtime are over.