Picture from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Overall B+

In this final chapter of the Harry Potter franchise, the boy wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) put themselves in harm's way to stop Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) from gaining immortality.

Violence C
Sexual Content A
Profanity B+
Substance Use A

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

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There has been great anticipation for the last half of this final chapter of the Harry Potter franchise. Ever since the release of the first film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s popular book series in November of 2001, avid fans have waited anxiously to see how the saga would unfold.

Sitting next to me in the screening are three young women—the epitome of Potter-mania. Dressed in Hogwart’s school uniforms, the girls giggle as they recall watching the first movie when they, like the main characters, were 11 years old. Having grown up simultaneously, the trio prepares to witness the end of a decade-long era, which also signals the end of both parties’ childhoods.

Screenwriters for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 have penned the script for just these sorts of viewers. They assume you are already familiar with the novels so they don’t need to fill in all the plot details, and that in preparation for this cinematic event you have recently watched the past movies (especially Deathly Hallows - Part 1), which you undoubtedly have sitting on your shelf at home. (If this doesn’t describe you, you may want to brush up on the previous films so you don’t feel at a complete loss when the story continues from where it left off in November 2010.)

Harry, Hermione and Ron (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) are still searching for the missing horcruxes into which Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) divested his soul. They must find and destroy all that remain of these seven items before the Dark Lord gets his hands on the three Deathly Hallows (the Elder Wand, the Invisibility Cloak and the Resurrection Stone), which will make him the master of death, and therefore impossible to destroy.

Unfortunately, Voldemort gets possession of the Elder Wand before Harry’s scavenger hunt is complete. Using this powerful tool, he and his followers descend on Hogwarts School prepared to kill as many people as necessary (and perhaps a few more just for their sadistic nature’s sake) to root out and dispose of Harry Potter.

As the death toll mounts, the young wizard comes to understand that he alone has the ability to stop the senseless carnage and keep Voldemort from gaining immortality—but to do so will require the ultimate sacrifice.

Of course these battles between good and evil forces include magical weapons use, hand-to-hand conflict, fire-breathing creatures, explosions and falls from great heights. While most of these portrayals (bloody wounds, injuries, implied deaths and corpses) are not very explicit, there are two scenes that are. One shows a man walking through a room full of dead bodies, whose bare feet get covered in their blood. The other depicts a person attacked by a snake. The incident is obscured because it is seen through a dirty window, however the viewer does hear the brutality of the multiple strikes and see the blood that splatters on the glass pane as a result. The loss of several significant characters will also be grievous for readers who have come to know and love them.

Yet amidst the darkness there are some shining moments. Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), long assumed to be the cowardly type, displays true courage. The soft-spoken Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) finally gets heard. The power of love, family and friendship are personified through Lily and James (Geraldine Somerville and Adrian Rawlins), Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and surprisingly, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). Mercy is also given to enemies. Our three heroes use their brains, as well as magic, in their quest to defeat oppression. And in the face of mortal danger, Harry is brave enough to look death in the eye without flinching.

For the young ladies who shared my screening, the movie appeared to meet all their expectations. They screamed during a railroad ride through the vaults of Gringotts, cheered when their favorite teen couples kissed, laughed when Mrs. Weasley (Julie Walters) swore at the witchy Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), and cried bittersweet tears as Harry, Hermione and Ron took their final curtain call.

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