Making the Grades
As the final tome in J.K. Rowling’s franchise comes to the big screen, executives at Warner Brothers Studios made the decision to present her tale in two parts. Considering the size of the book, this choice seems a good one—if not for the increased profit potential, then at least to prevent too lengthy of a sit in the theater! Fans of the series will also appreciate the extra time this approach affords moviemakers to adapt the finer details of her plot.
With each installment in the series, Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) circumstances have become increasingly dire. Now, the death of Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) has the young wizard’s life in even more danger. So instead of preparing to return for his seventh year at Hogwarts School, Harry’s friends are attempting to help him find a safe hiding place. Yet despite their heroic efforts, bloody injuries and some fatalities still result.
Meanwhile, the power of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) continues to grow. Infiltrating the Ministry of Magic, his followers are able to move forward with their plans to remove all but the pureblooded from the ranks of the world of witches and wizards. However, that is merely one task on the Dark Lords agenda. On the top of his list is killing Harry, and then there is a scavenger hunt of some sort, the mystery of which even Hermione hasn’t been able to unravel.
Concerned he is putting the welfare of his sympathizers at risk, Harry determines to work alone to stop Voldemort—until Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) insist on coming along. The trio knows of just one way to defeat the Dark Lord: by destroying the seven horcruxes into which he has placed a piece of his evil soul. The problem is, Harry and his friends are only aware of the identity of three of the objects (and two of those have been taken care of already). Perhaps clues to the others (as well as some idea of whatever it is Voldemort is looking for) lie in the gifts bequeathed to them from Dumbledore.
What began as a children’s novel in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has grown in complexity of story structure and character development over the years and series. The movies have followed suit with greater technical achievements and performances. While this may please book and movie enthusiasts, parents should be aware the content might be maturing faster than the audiences lined up to see these spell-casting heroes. Without a doubt, this edition of the occult-set saga takes violence to the highest level yet. Along with the by-now-expected action sequences of magical weapons showdowns, spectacular crashes, explosions and demonic creatures, this movie features far more emotionally disturbing images. Characters are tortured and their contorted bodies seen, flesh is cut and pleas are heard. Deaths and injuries occur resulting in explicit wounds with excessive blood shown. Moments of peril are more frequent, suspenseful and frightening.
Although it is true these stories have always been about the battle between good and evil, the depictions of darkness seem to be deepening while the bright spots really haven’t expanded past portrayals of friendship and teamwork. Add to that a sensual teen kiss (where an imagined portrayal has the couple appearing to be naked, even though bare backs and shoulders are all that is seen) as well as themes of racial supremacy and genocide, and families may be pretty certain this cauldron is conjuring up a brew fit mainly for older viewers.