A magical visionary – Well, it’s all come down to this.  After six installments, hordes of magical characters, spells and plenty of drama, the seventh and final piece to this series has arrived. For many, this beginning to the end is very much welcomed with all that has happened to this point. From the pages of the very first book dubbed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone back in 1997 to the final book dubbed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows three years ago, J.K. Rowling has wowed millions with her irresistible stories and characters. So, as we begin this much anticipated goodbye to what will clearly go down as one of the greatest film series of all-time, remember none of this would have been possible without the incredible vision of Rowling.

Previously in the world ruled by magic…we find Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) vowing to hunt down this infamous R.A.B. (Regulus Arcturus Black) and destroy the remaining Horcruxes instead of returning to Hogwarts for their final year. Fastforward to now and we find the trio meeting with The Order of the Phoenix to plan what was next while Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) slowly begins to increase in power with the help of Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and the Death Eaters. A couple chaotic and unfortunate encounters later with these Death Eaters, Harry, Ron and Hermione escape to begin their journey to find the missing Horcruxes. And what a journey it was, as the better part of this entire Part 1 was spent on all the trials and tribulations of these three as they sought to end the reign of Lord Voldemort before it ever got started.  Of course doing so was no easy task, as the longer they ventured down this unknown path, the more they learned about what got them to this point, ultimately leading to a wild and all too symbolic conclusion full of intrigue.  

Who was in it?  Six stories and hundreds of characters later, we still are left with the threesome that got us here. Led by Daniel Radcliffe, this cast knows how to work around the web of words built by J.K. Rowling. And that’s especially true for Radcliffe who will always be known as Harry Potter, no matter what he does the rest of his career. That could be a good thing or bad thing, but the fact is, this guy can flat out act and without him, this series would have struggled. Continuing where her left off in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” Radcliffe was easily able to bring out all the complexities a character like his demanded without overshadowing the brilliant Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Like Radcliffe, we have also watched these two grow the past nine years, but I must say its Watson who may have stole the show here as her presence alone had you captivated more than once. Maybe it was all the gorgeous backdrops, but each and every time Watson’s Hermione spoke to Harry or Ron, you were glued to each word and inflection as if it was her last. That’s talent and why I have always said she will break away from this series and become the most successful over time.

Till death do us part?  As I have proclaimed before, without reading the books, I can’t say for certain how true this series has been to the books.  But, with how much was thrown into this first chapter of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” I fully understand why it was split. The book is 759 pages for a reason and I think a lot of credit should go to the producers and director David Yates for not wanting to cram too much into the final installment. I respect that, especially after what I would call a lackluster effort from the sixth piece to this series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” So before you claim doing two films instead of one is all about the money, take a gander at the book and you’ll know where I’m coming from.

Because, let’s face it, this entire franchise is about the stories and the journey by three young friends as they attempt to bring peace back to the world they loved. That’s what this film and really any of the previous should be graded on.  Anything else really takes a backseat, so any flaws with special effects or lack thereof really has no place in my opinion. That’s not to say there have been a lot to begin with, because there really hasn’t, but it’s really all about the story and what got us to this point. And with this final chapter, I think Yates and co. did an admirable job in displaying all the intricacies that go along with a story as complex as this final one. So, while I could have had a bit more introduction to this chapter, I still became quickly invested in what was next and in the end, that’s all it’s really about.

Bottom Line – It’s hard to know where we would be in this series, had Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint not signed on for all eight films. So, I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m glad they did as it’s been a fun ride along side them in this incredible journey from the mind of J.K. Rowling. The reality is, if Part 2 is anything close to Part 1, we will all be in for a treat eight months from now when this series finally comes to a close.

B+

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