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When Harry Met His Fate . . .

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (2011)

Warner Brothers Pictures

The end of the “Harry Potter” saga is more than the culmination of a decade-spanning big-screen standard. For the legions of fans that have devoured J. K. Rowling’s books and their movie adaptations, most of whom are now well into their college years and beyond, this is in many ways a coda to childhood itself.

So it’s no great surprise the crowds have turned out in droves and a record-breaking opening weekend is expected. The auditoriums showing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” after all are serving witness to what is essentially the world’s largest wake, a final chance to toast Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, Muggles, Hogwarts, Dumbledore, Snape and the other familiars before they go gently into the proverbial good night.

What’s slightly more of a surprise is just how strong of a film this is — sharply directed and appropriately tear-jerking, imbued with the gravitas of such an epic finale. David Yates, in the final half of his third stint as a “Potter” director, shows an innate understanding of these characters, the world they inhabit and the significance of Ms. Rowling’s grandiose finale. The tone is serious and circumspect as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) confronts Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his fate.

At the same time, the battle of Hogwarts that comprises much of the picture is rendered on a massive, unflinching scale. The film is immersed in firebombs, hand-to-hand combat and rampant destruction, with the famed school for wizards reduced to World War II-era rubble. It’s suspenseful, constructed with a unique visual blend of the magical flights of fancy that have defined the series and an unexpectedly gritty spirit.

At the end of the day, though, the entire “Harry Potter” experience is not really about magic at all. It’s about growing up, understanding who you are and finding a way to do the right thing. That’s what links the childlike wonder of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to this grand, adult culmination. It’s the idea borne out through the past decade in the performances of Mr. Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman and the rest of the terrific, familiar ensemble. And it’s the reason Ms. Rowling’s creation will live on in the hearts and minds of the generation it touched, who one day will introduce their children to a wizard named Harry.


Opened on July 15 in the United States and Britain.

Directed by David Yates; written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J. K. Rowling; director of photography, Eduardo Serra; edited by Mark Day; music by Alexandre Desplat; production design by Stuart Craig; costumes by Jany Temime; produced by David Heyman, David Barron and Ms. Rowling; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A. and 12A by B.B.F.C. 

WITH: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix LeStrange), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Warwick Davis (Griphook/Professor Filius Flitwick), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), Michael Gambon (Professor Albus Dumbledore), Ciaran Hinds (Aberforth Dumbledore), John Hurt (Ollivander), Jim Broadbent (Professor Horace Slughorn), Emma Thompson (Professor Sybil Trelawney), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Alan Rickman (Professor Severus Snape), Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley).


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