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Critic's Pick: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

When the lights dimmed on the final chapter of the Harry Potter series, I was nervous. I knew how the story would end, but would the film retelling be as satisfying as I found the book?

In a word, that’s a definite yes. I found Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to be a perfectly poignant way to conclude a story that has touched so many lives.

The film immediately launches into the plot, setting the scene with glimpses of Voldemort stealing the Elder Wand, Harry sitting beside Dobby’s grave and Snape overseeing a regimented army of Hogwarts students. Devoted Potterheads will be gratified by the humanistic portrayal of Griphook the goblin, as well as the interesting bit of wand lore from the mouth of a grateful Ollivander. But quick as you please, we seem to be launching into one of my favorite parts of the movie: the Gringotts break-in.

The incredible Helena Bonham Carter puts on a fantastically funny show playing Hermione polyjuiced into Bellatrix’s body. Everything from a turned ankle in her high heels to the meek, ‘Mione-like expressions on her face was spot-on. When the group climbs into the cart and goes plunging into the depths of the bank, we are handed another treat: An incredible look at the underbelly of the famous wizarding institution. I don’t know about you, but I found this roller-coaster ride beneath London to expose a far vaster, grander Gringotts than I had previously imagined.

A daring escape and a brief sojourn in the Hog’s Head, and we’re minutes away from the beginning of an epic battle. Diehards (and wanna-be Ravenclaws) might be disappointed to discover the script deviates from the book at this point in favor of character growth rather than plot synchronization.

Emma Watson’s Hermione grows softer around the edges, more willing to partner up than to be the brains behind the operation. Ron continues the maturation we saw in the first installment, becoming the supporting foundation for the Golden Trio instead of the stubborn lay-about. Luna finds her voice, demanding that Harry listen to her instead of gallivanting off in the wrong direction, and Neville, dear Neville! A more complete transformation you cannot find.

As the final showdown between good and evil plays out to its inevitable conclusion—as the posters proclaim, it really does all end here—we’re left in the same position as Harry, Ron and Hermione. The battle over, the pair stand amid the ruins as the camera pulls back. They look small, spent and confused, as though they’re wondering what happens next. Thanks to an amusing prologue, we see exactly what happens 19 years later, but having followed the story through to its long-awaited conclusion, fans are forced to ask themselves the exact same question: What now?

With J.K. Rowling’s mysterious new endeavor, Pottermore, there’s always the opportunity for more stories within the Harry Potter world. But the conclusion of the film and its paperbound namesake urges HP devotees to move on, too, to board that train and get ready for the next great adventure. And, you know, dive back in and rediscover the magic of Harry Potter from the beginning.

Be sure to catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (in theaters tomorrow), then come back and let us know your thoughts.

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by Brittany Taylor | 2/1/2016
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