Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 [2011]

MPAA (PG-13) CNS/USCCB (A-II) Roger Ebert (3 ½ stars) Fr. Dennis (4 stars on technical merit, 2 stars on substance)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert’s review -

As I wrote in my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (this movie, Part 2, obviously being a continuation), I confess that I never particularly got into the Harry Potter craze.  While not fanatical about my disinterest in the series, I always thought that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and the movies that they inspired simply capitalized on popular trends of late 1980s-1990s notably on New Age spirituality and even more tendaciously on Wicca a new-fangled religion (the “poor” Scientologists could only wish that they had such a fanatical public relations crew ...)  nominally seeking to “recover” a “lost” pagan-feminist golden age, which after all is said and done still seems to find its clearest expression when it is presented with a British accent – WASP-ish just without the P. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  My ancestry is Slavic (mostly Czech).  The small "ginger bread" looking house in which my grandmother was born in a cute little village (with its cute Romanesque 1000 year old Catholic Church still standing on the hill) in the rolling picturesque Bohemian countryside still belongs to an aunt.  And just like my dad and the relatives of his generation, I and the relatives of my generation still spent a fair number of summer vacations there when I was growing up.  So I can mushroom pick with the best of them, and I can berry pick fairly well as well.  I can readily identify plants of that region that can serve as a remedies for arthritis and know a good deal of the stories -- Christian and pre-Christian – associated with the region where my family came from .  As such, I do believe that I have an appreciation of the land and of nature closer to that of a Native American _who still knows his/her traditions well_ or even that of a Haitian voodoo practitioner _who knows his or her traditions well_ (and I used to work in a parish with a sizable Haitian population), than what a modern-day tattoo covered Chicago Wiccan “witch” residing in modern-day Lincoln Park would know about these things.

So my sympathies are far more with Verushka the Witch of the recent animated movie Hoodwinked Too, where poor Verushka was portrayed as evil, NOT because she was a witch but because she was Russian accented, than anybody really from Hogwarts and the rest of Harry Potter’s world. 

This is not to say that the Harry Potter books and movies, even _this_ climactic movie are without value.  As I wrote before, Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Hermoine Granger (played by Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (played by Rupert Grint) are nice.  And friendship is good.  They “fight evil” (whatever evil in this series actually means) in Lord Voldemort (played by Ralph Fiennes).  And this movie is certainly befitting of its climactic place in the saga.  Obviously, much much happens and much gets resolved in this final installment in the story. 

But I guess, honestly, I’ve just never ever been swept-up by the Harry Potter craze.  All kinds of people have, all kinds of _good people_ have.  I even have a Czech niece “back in the old country” who as a twelve year old was reading the Harry Potter books in translation.  And even some otherwise rather conservative Catholics from my parish are Harry Potter fans.  I’ve just never been one of them.

Bottom line, if you’ve liked Harry Potter, you’ll certainly like this finale.  If not, eh ... you’ll be like me.  But in any case, whether you like Harry Potter or not, God bless you all ;-).


If you'd actually like to read as comprehensive an article as one could find on witchcraft from the Catholic Church's traditional position on the subject, may I suggest this article from the old Catholic Encyclopedia.

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