(And a Few Semi-Random Musings)
While there are some touching moments in Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Soer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, courtesy of Sandra Bullock and Jeffrey Wright. The problem is it takes about two hours to get there, trapped in the company of an extremely—shall we say talkative-ten year old protagonist Oskar Schell.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the remarkably satisfying finale in the Harry Potter series–an entertaining, exciting, enthralling journey into darkness that will move even those who missed Hallows, Part 1. Without revealing too much, this final chapter pits Harry against the shadowy Hogwarts now-headmaster Snape ( Alan Rickman) and the apogee of evil himself Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who for various reasons, is driven to destroy Harry- and those who might protect him-- as in the students and staff at Hogwarts, who (with the notable exception of Draco) have grown awfully fond of Harry over the years. After a talky beginning and a sequence that borders on an Indiana Jones theme-ride take-off, the movie plunges Harry into deep water–and sure ground-- as the various plot machinations lead to the inevitable showdown between Harry and Voldemort. Along the way, motivations are revealed, , sacrifices are made, destinies are decided, and the entire school becomes a symbol of grace under pressure. Steve Kloves’ screenplay does a fine job of streamlining J.K. Rowlings’ hefty tome; David Yates’ direction places characterization above spectacle throughout; and the performances by all are top-notch: Daniel Radcliffe is an assured yet conflicted and vulnerable Harry; Maggie Smith is a tower of strength as Harry’s champion and Snape’s nemesis; Rupert Grint’s Ron and Emma Watson’s Hermione are as sensible and appealing as ever. There are also welcome re-appearances by Michael Gambon, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Helena Bonham Carter, to name but a few. Fiennes’ Voldemort is a magnificent creation, ruthless, menacing, and almost purring when Harry seems within his grasp; he is matched by Rickman’s Snape, a haughty, tortured soul whose character arc is an essential emotional component of the series. Worth seeing more than once (preferably non 3D if the option is available).