Bespectacled Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) squares off against amphibian-faced Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in this magnificent finale of the beloved billion-dollar fantasy franchise. Before that confrontation can take place, though, David Yates' epic must first chart Harry's attempts alongside best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) to locate a collection of remaining Horcruxes—enchanted objects that house pieces of Voldemort's soul, and whose destruction will make the Dark Lord mortally vulnerable. That quest pits treachery and self-interest against steadfastness and sacrifice, a bedrock conflict embodied by Harry and Voldemort, the Christ and Satan at the center of J.K. Rowling's coming-of-age saga. Yates' latest boasts an almost classical attention to mood and composition, but performance truly trumps spectacle, especially as regards Alan Rickman, capping his iconic turn as Professor Severus Snape by slowing his dialogue to a sinister crawl, and Radcliffe, completing his portrait of Harry's transformation from wide-eyed naif to selfless adult with intense conviction and heart. In its majestic conclusion, the film recognizes, with a maturity and sincerity that have become the franchise's hallmarks, that love and loyalty are the most vital, powerful, and real in times of true darkness.
It's the last hurrah for our intrepid trio of Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson.
Opens at Cinerama and other theaters Fri., July 15. Rated PG-13. 130 minutes.