It all comes down to this.
Going Rate: Worth full price
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane
Red Flags: Dark fantasy violence, one mild profanity
Oh Harry, how you've grown up. In 2001, when Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone made it to the big screen, it played like a coming-of-age Wizard Of Oz, only a bit darker. Now, nearly 10 years later, we've watched Harry (Radcliffe) and his pals Ron (Grint) and Hermoine (Watson) grow up both in the movie saga and in real life. They're not cute little wizards and witches anymore. They're adults with the world upon their shoulders, and you can feel it all through the final chapter of the eight-film series.
In order to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort (Fiennes), Harry and company must finish the job from Part 1: destroying a series of objects called Holcruxes that give the evil one his invincibility. These things are hidden away in different places, but amazingly, none of them are outside England. I wonder why the dark one didn't think about that. Then again, Voldemort mysteriously doesn't have the ability to give himself a decent nose job. Hogwart's School for Witchcraft and Wizardry resembles a prison camp now that Servus Snape (Rickman) has taken over as headmaster. We're still not completely clear where his allegiances lie, but you'll soon have your answer.
I kept comparing the final Potter to the final installment of Star Wars. The pacing of this film reminded me more of a suspense-thriller than an action fantasy. These characters talk a lot. They brood. They flirt with death more times than any reasonable person would tolerate. Return Of The Jedi was dark in places, but with an overlay of hope: would Darth Vader find the good within him? With Voldemort, we have no such hope. He's bad to the bone. Our main question is whether Harry will live or die trying to save the world from him.
All of this is pretty heavy stuff for young children. But like the characters they love, they have grown up too, and as everyone comes of age together, all of the material matures. HP7: 2 is no kids' movie, even though marketing might steer it that way. And I'm glad it's no Twilight, either, even though there's a splash of romance.
Without spoiling the ending, let's just say the film leaves itself an out for another edition. I'm sure Hollywood will push for it, given the gigantic money flowing into the coffers from this saga.