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Final ‘Potter’ more than just a movie

By Staff | Jul 27, 2011

Mesmerizing its audience, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” performs movie abracadabra by saving the best for last. Unlike most “franchise” flicks (i.e “SuperMan,” “Batman,” anything with an Arabic or Roman numeral in the title), they have a tendency to lose fascination as the sequels increase. A few defy the generalization: James Bond continues tossing gadgets, flirts, and suave maneuvers and “Dr No” had its release in 1962.

“Potter” has become a youth/adult phenomenon. Most of the wizard’s fans came by the “book first” method. Of course, there are exceptions. But J.K. Rowling’s mission was to bring individuals back to book reading. At the midnight premiere, I actually found one adult waiting in the lowered lights with a paperback in hand. “I read a lot,” said Christine Kelly, adding yes she has read all of the Potter novels.

Lynne Taylor was another adult dragged to the wee-hour showing. She explained, “My eldest son was in the second grade (when) all the family started reading the books (and watching the movies) …now, they are all grown and this is the last one.”

Statistics show “Potter” poised to pass another generation’s sci-fi icon, “Star Wars.” Potter has the advantage of higher ticket prices (including IMAX/3D), saturation exposure and multiple auditorium “on demand” times . When “Star Wars” debuted, the George Lucas flick inched into one theater and stayed for 26 weeks or more. Those were days before multi-screen showings.

The mostly dark, moody and eerie “Potter” entries have spanned a decade and ranged from an emphasis on mystery/suspense to intricate magical action. The finale turns the young wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and friends, Ron and Hermione, (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) twisting, turning and plunging into an “Indiana Jones”-type (remember him?) environment of deep caves headed to a secret vault (3D coaster) with its menacing monster. A not-so-intense absorption on character relationships continues despite the high dose of will-powered magic wands (a substitute for the laser light saber?) out-of-control engulfing the Room of Requirement. Watch Potter’s smoothly illusionary dialogue with a woman from beyond the grave, too.

Action has been bumped up a notch at the school for magic as the young wizards of all genders mount a stand in a good-versus-evil standoff, which has a scene of wounded reminiscent on a smaller scale to the Civil War clashes of “Gone With The Wind.”

What has breathed longevity into the wizard which prompts fans to wave wands, don costumes and pose life-sized standees in their room? Consolidating several responses, the top formula recipes were “relating to kids,” “putting yourself into the shoes and hands of the characters’ book and/or movie,” and the stress-break of escaping to a world of wishful spells where you can board a train to Hogwarts.

Encapsulated by editing that disallows Attention Deficit Disorder, intricately detailed set design, consistent characters (and character actors), these blend astutely, whether the adventure alludes to an academic atmospheric dark side or (as here) a gripping call out to the stone soldiers for the Potter versus Voldemort warfare.

Summarily, “Part 2” comes down to one word: FUN. No analysis or symbolism necessary (some could be gleaned), just a story that has multiple layers which touch every movie genre.

Though Rowling and Warner Brothers bill this as the hail and farewell, film series have the luxury of reinventing themselves or finding the cliff hanging had a ledge 20 feet below.