Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

HIGH ON HOGWARTS: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) embarks on his last adventure.

THE NEW POTTER film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 wraps up the 10-year saga in a cluttered, confusing finale—which doesn't prevent it from being a fast-paced adventure that definitively strikes the sets.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), now a sturdy, bland young man, must go solo against the Noseless One. The 3-D frame-breakers work well, such as an abused albino dragon snapping its head out of the screen. It's the other aspect of 3-D that is more impressive: a careworn Maggie Smith's eyes looking as deep-set as the Grand Canyon. I liked the way Smith represses a tremble and makes it look like the weight of authority shifting itself. She refuses to hide behind euphemism when it comes to Voldemort: "He has a name." He has a bit more of a face, here too. Sickened by the loss of most of his soul, Ralph Fiennes looks like a poisoned, bleached ape.

The 3-D technique also adds a sense of the oversized to the eyes of a beautiful, temperamental ghost named Helena (Kelly Macdonald). Her mood swings are sartling, but the real chill comes from Evanna Lynch. Luna Lovegood's nerveless, dead-even voice is seriously uncanny. (Note the doom in it as she examines a wind chime: "Muggles think this will protect them from evil. It won't.") Pity they couldn't do more with her; she's practically a spear-carrier in this opera.

So what of Snape? One hump short of Richard III, Alan Rickman rolls every syllable as if it were Sisyphus' rock. This should have been Snape's crescendo—nope. The reveal of a tender heart under a supercilious hide is all we get. (And the whole business of the Dumbledore family drama has to be thrown in for the cast to sumble over.)

It's a nocturnal film, and director David Yates is at his best borrowing from Fritz Lang: the cloaked scholars in formation in the courtyard, the figures in silhouette meeting on a staircase top. The downside is claustrophobia from lack of natural light. Even the seaside looks wrapped in fiberglass. The religious cranks who said the Potter films failed to endorse the traditional family will get theirs in the epilogue, which returns this horror story to the kid-friendly place where it began.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

PG-13; 130 min.

Opens July 15

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