Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Gary Oldman

Directed by: David Yates

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint)

And now, the end is near, and so we face the final curtain.

Over the last decade, we've watched Harry Potter grow from a fresh-faced boy who couldn't keep out of trouble to a serious young man with the troubles of the wizarding world on his shoulders. And now it's time for him to meet his destiny, as he prepares to face down his arch nemesis, Voldemort. Neither one can live with the other survives...

Deathly Hallows 2 picks up where its predecessor left off. Evil Lord Voldemort has wrested the powerful elder wand from the cold dead clutch of Albus Dumbledore, and Harry, Ron and Hermione still have several horcruxes to seek and destroy. But to be honest, the intricacies of the plot barely matter now: since film no. 1, the series has been moving towards an ultimate epic showdown between good and evil. And this is it.

Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape

The disparate threads of the story that have tangled around Harry for seven years are finally woven together and burning questions are answered at last: how can Harry hear the Dark Lord's thoughts? who is watching him through the magic mirror? why is it so significant that he has his mother's eyes? and why is it so important that Severus Snape is played by one of the finest actors in the world?

True, the obvious in-yer-face 3D moments fall a little flat in 2D (perhaps just as well, or I'd still be picking bits of Voldemort from my hair) but the franchise has nevertheless saved the best SFX for last. There are some breathtaking set-pieces in the film, including a truly thrilling descent into and escape from the vaults at Gringotts, the goblin bank, and, of course, the climactic battle to protect Harry at Hogwarts, where the combination of powerful performances from the adult cast and classy CGI, transforming the school into a ravaged war zone reminiscent of London in the Blitz, makes for some spinechilling moments.

But the Harry Potter books and films have always been about more than wand fights and explosions, and it's time for the underlying themes of love, loyalty and sacrifice to take centre stage.

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort

'Words,' notes Dumbledore, 'are in my not so humble opinion, our most exhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.' And say what you like about JK Rowling's awkward, blousy style, RELIANCE ON CAPITAL LETTERS FOR EMPHASIS and seeming refusal to edit ANYTHING out: when it comes to an epic yarn that resounds in the heart and the mind, she has this writing lark nailed, and the ultimate, quiet climax beyond the clamour of the battle is as modest and moving on screen as it is on the page. (Although I'm still not keen on the cheesy epilogue...)

A truly fitting close to a generation-defining series of films. Bravo, JK Rowling, bravo David Yates, bravo Daniel Radcliffe and your clenchy-jawed acting and bravo the crème de la crème of British acting talent (what will you do with yourselves now?). It's time to hang up the wands, pointy hats and brooms and retreat into movie legend. Mischief managed.

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