Saturday, August 20, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II (Rhoades)

“Harry Potter” Delivers a Final Wave of the Magic Wand

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Harry Potter is a powerful wizard. He can conjure up untold wealth.

Take for instance J. K. Rowling, the Brit who created the Harry Potter stories. Poverty-stricken when she first put pen to paper, Jo Rowling is now a multi-millionaire. In fact, Forbes estimates her fortune at $1 billion. The twelfth richest woman in Great Britain, she’s amassed more money than the Queen of England.

Also consider my old alma mater Scholastic Inc. (I was a group publisher there). Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide in 68 languages, making it the biggest children’s book series ever. In the U.S. Scholastic has more than 150 million copies in print.

The last book in the 7-title series sold a record 8.3 million copies on its very first day of publication, according to my friends at Scholastic.

Furthermore, consider the money made from Harry Potter movies. So far, the worldwide box office gross has exceeded $6.4 billion for the 8-title series (the last book was split into two movies). The latest Warner Bros. film will push its Harry Potter revenues to over three-quarter trillion dollars.

There are 28 million followers of the movies alone on Facebook.

That final entry in the Harry Potter movie franchise – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II” – is current reprising its magic at the Tropic Cinema.

Yes, we return for one last visit to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This is the scene of the final battle between Harry Potter and his archenemy Lord Voldemort.

Voldemort’s army attacks the Hogwarts castle where Harry and his friends are searching for the last Horcruxes, those magical incantations that make the Dark Lord immortal.

“Let’s finish this the way we started it – together,” Harry challenges Voldemort. Thus, the final chapter concludes in keeping with the book.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or you’re a Christian fundamentalist who refuses to read books about witches), you know the backstory. As Rowling tells it: “The basic idea was that Harry didn’t know he was a wizard ... And so then I kind of worked backwards from that position to find out how that could be, that he wouldn’t know what he was. ... When he was one year old, the most evil wizard for hundreds and hundreds of years attempted to kill him. He killed Harry’s parents, and then he tried to kill Harry – he tried to curse him ... Harry has to find out, before we find out. And – so – but for some mysterious reason the curse didn’t work on Harry. So he’s left with this lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead and the curse rebounded upon the evil wizard, who has been in hiding ever since.”

Returning are your favorite stars – Daniel Radcliffe as young wizard Harry Potter. Emma Watson as gal pal Hermione Granger. And Rupert Grint as doofus bud Ron Wealsley.
The supporting cast takes a final bow too. Robbie Coltrane as the half-giant Hagrid. Helena Bonham Carter as Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange (don’t you just love that name?). Maggie Smith as transfiguration teacher Minerva McGonagall. Gary Oldman as Harry’s godfather Sirius Black. Alan Rickman as turncoat potions master Severus Snape. And Ralph Fiennes as He Who Must Not Be Named, the evil Lord Voldemort.

The series finishes in the nick of time, for the cast members are outgrowing their teen roles. The first Harry Potter film (“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”) was released in 2001 when star Daniel Radcliffe was 12 years old. Do the math: he’s now in his early twenties. Hard to be a boy wizard at that age.

“Some of the most ardent fans feel that they grew up right alongside Harry; as he aged, so did they,” says Edmund Kern, a professor who teaches a Potter course at Lawrence University.

With a production budget of $125 million, you can expect the special effects to be up to par with the previous Harry Potter films. Plus, this last magical gesture is available in 3D. So you can see Harry zooming at you on his broomstick as realistically as, say, a Universal Orlando theme park ride.

Directed by David Yates (he’s helmed the final four Harry Potter films), this epic fantasy is expected to set box office records.

“It’s a big fantasy film. It’s got dragons and giants and spiders and we go full circle – back to the roots of the series,” says Yates. “I really wanted it to feel a bit edgier and more modern. I wanted it to feel more … not at all fantasy.” He instructed his director of photography, “Just make it feel real.”

At Scholastic, we broke the rule of thumb that teen boys don’t read books by publishing the “Goosebumps” book series. And the “Harry Potter” series proved that adults and youngsters would read the same book if handled right.

Thus, the “Harry Potter” movies have packed in young and old alike. But with a PG-13 rating, is “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II” too scary for little kids?

“Well, you know, I liked being scared as a kid. I like being scared. I used to watch ‘Doctor Who’ while hiding behind the settee, as you do,” says David Yates. “But I think parents have to be careful. It’s got the right rating on it. I have seen children come out of the theater, we’ve had several screenings. The boys particularly like it, they get really buzzed by it.”
As the movie posters promote: “It All Ends.” But maybe not. J. K. Rowling has launched a new Website called, which will offer e-reader versions of her famous books and provide much more background about the characters. What’s more, the site allows readers to interact with and navigate Harry Potter’s magical world.

“I could definitely write an eighth, a ninth book,” says Rowling. “I think I am done, but you never know.”
[from Solares Hill]

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