Deathly Hallows posterThe Harry Potter movieshave oversome some of the most formidable obstacles in the movie franchise bookin remaining a compelling and profitable series with the seventh installmentnow hitting theaters, but there’s a huge controversy about the last novel beingsplit into two movies.

Fans of the series obviously don’t want to see it end atall, while critics see it as a bloated monster of a franchise that Hollywood isusing to gouge moviegoers for every dime the series if worth. Others insistthat the decision to split the final book into two movies was totallynecessary, since plot omissions in some previous Potter films led to confusionin later ones.

Personally, I see it as a failure to consolidate theconsistently lengthening novels into a single movie anymore, but then again Ihaven’t read a Harry Potter book since The Goblet of Fire in 2004. They’rejust too freaking long now.

Not that that means I’m not a fan of the series, because Iam, and I think J.K. Rowling has achieved a spectacular feat of story-tellingin writing the books. People used to say Stephen King must have a team ofwriters working for him to come out with as many books as he has (which is notreally true, he tries to write at least 6 pages a day. Do the math), but I’mcurious to know how many people Rowling must have working for her to come upwith the entire worlds that she creates in her books.

The last one, last year’s Half Blood Prince, showed us the sixth year at Hogwarts and delveddeeper into the dark past of Lord Voldemort. Harry, Ron and Hermione are now insearch of the five Horcruxes which Voldemort needs to make himself immortal andtake over both the muggle and wizard worlds, and meanwhile he sends out teamsof assassins, many of whom the three wizard grad students have met in previousmovies, to stop them before they can succeed in throwing a little monkey wrenchinto his evil scheme.

And that’s really all that happens in the movie. That’s thebare bones of the plot, of course, but I’ve found that with each successivefilm that comes out in the series, it becomes more and more pointless toextrapolate on the intricacies of the plot. The world is so familiar with HarryPotter by now that a detailed analysis of each new story is unnecessary.

Harry Potter 7Suffice it to say that as the characters grow up, thestories also grow up and include increasingly dark and mature elements,including the now-raging hormones of the central characters, which steal theshow and genuinely take center stage in this movie for the first time. There’sa surprisingly steamy embrace of Harry and Hermione that’s inflicted upon Ron,as Voldemort plays to his jealousy and insecurities. The movie trips up here alittle bit, though, as were asked to believe that this romantic tension betweenthe three has been taking place for like seven years without anything evercoming of it until now, but no matter.

This is the scariest Potter film so far, not the leastreason for which is because it’s the first and only one to take placecompletely outside the confines of the school, and because Potter veterandirector David Yates understands that, as the characters in the movie grow up,so has the target audience. Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, these arenot kids movies anymore. A Hogwarts professor is fed to Voldemort’s snake as anillustration of his evil, which hasn’t been shown to such an extent in previousmovies.

Yates also takes the increasing complexity of the novels andreflects it with his direction. I especially appreciated a scene where Harry,Ron and Hermione take on the identities of some members of the Ministry ofMagic in order to retrieve a magical locket, in which the possessed charactersplay themselves as controlled by the three wizards. It’s a dramatically complexand brilliantly performed scene.

Harry Potter 7It has been several years and several Potter films now thatI first developed the opinion that, no matter how good or bad the acting ordirecting or writing in any of the films are, they all have the productionstandards of Best Picture winners. Harry Potter is now the highest grossingfilm series of all time so obviously the budget is bottomless, and they’respending it in the right places. The special effects are as stunning as everand the movie is brilliant to look at, no matter what you think of the rest ofit.

I really liked the movie, although it’s not my favorite one(that’s still The Goblet of Fire, it’sthe only one that has everything), although the occasional complaint that notenough happens in the movie is not entirely unfounded. We have to keep in mindthat this movie technically has neither a beginning nor an end, but it’s atestament to the creative power behind it that it is still as engaging andentertaining as any previous installments. Technically and artistically it’sanother admirable achievement, and to me feels like a nice setup to what issurely to be a spectacular finale.

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The Man.