For ten years, it has all been leading up to this moment. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final episode in the eight-part movie saga, culminates in the awaited showdown between the teenage wizard and his lifelong nemesis Lord Voldemort, who finally enters the gates of Hogwarts to seek out Harry. At roughly 2 hours and 10 minutes, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the shortest film in the series, and understandably the most grim.
The new film picks up exactly where the last one left off, with Harry, Ron and Hermoine still searching for Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes, which they must destroy if the Dark Lord has to be once and for all defeated. Meanwhile Voldemort is in possession of the coveted Elder Wand, which he has stolen from the tomb of Professor Dumbledore and which will make him invincible.
In one of the film’s stunning early-set pieces, our trio of young heroes recovers a Horcrux after breaking into a vault at Gringotts, then makes a thrilling escape riding on the back of a fire-breathing dragon. Following this, the action quickly shifts to Hogwarts, where the mood is expectedly somber given that Death Eaters and Dementors loom large outside campus walls.
Even as you count down to the brutal confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, director David Yates ties up many loose ends along the way. Major secrets are revealed, including a shocking one involving Professor Snape, and much-loved side characters like Professor McGonagall and Neville Longbottom finally get their big moment in the spotlight. The Battle of Hogwarts is easily one of the most inventive set-pieces executed in the entire series, and Yates and his team of VFX artists exploit the opportunity to deliver some truly exhilarating moments.
Harry Potter, now wiser and older than his years, must contemplate the inevitability of death and the true value of friendship. Daniel Radcliffe bites into the part with a steeliness we’d only seen glimpses of before, and delivers a mature yet vulnerable performance that touches the heart.
It’s impossible not to be overwhelmed in the final’s final scene, which brings its principal characters to a full circle since we first met them. I found myself holding back my tears in the end, much like one would while saying goodbye to old friends.
I’m going with four out of five for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. It’s not merely a fitting farewell to a much-loved series, but also that rare summer blockbuster that marries and emotional, stirring story with jaw-dropping visual flair.