From London, critic Matt Mueller reviews Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2:
For those who felt that splitting the final book of JK Rowling’s wizard’s-own adventure series into two films was just a cynical ploy to squeeze more cash out of moviegoers, not helped by the hurry-up-already feeling left by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, all will be forgiven with this immensely satisfying and gloriously nostalgic finale. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 can instantly be counted as one of the finest closing chapters to a franchise in movie history.
It’s also the best film in this storied franchise. Admittedly, this is partly due to the simple fact that it wraps up character and plot strands that we’ve been following for a decade now. But on so many levels, it appears that the Harry Potter massive were all saving something special for this last stand. That includes Daniel Radcliffe, giving his deepest and most mature performance yet and demonstrating for arguably the first time that he might well have a leading-man career beyond Rowling’s world; Alexandre Desplat, providing an epic and emotive score; the visual-effects and production design teams for thrilling sequences where the ramparts, turrets and hallways of Hogwarts are mercilessly pummelled in a battle for the wizarding world’s very soul; one beloved (or despised) character after another getting their own hallowed moment to shine (not least Ralph Fiennes, gloriously letting rip as Voldemort); and director David Yates, wrangling it all with the aplomb of a true master. Where this guy goes next in his career just got exciting.
Equally, the pre-release fear that 3-D was merely another moneyspinning move (it’s the only film in the franchise to feature it) is dispelled in Part 2’s opening moments, as Dementors hover in the sky above Hogwarts and Snape casts an eye over the now-terrorised institution. It’s deployed with nothing less than good sense and taste throughout.
Maybe the Weasley clan get short shrift (especially as they lose a member), maybe the CG used to youth-anise Alan Rickman’s Snape for crucial flashbacks gives him the look of a pre-op transsexual, maybe a few plot details will bypass anyone who hasn’t read the book – but no matter. This mighty franchise goes out with a magnificent flourish that not only validates all the long hours we’ve spent watching it, but more than fulfils that most definitive of showbiz maxims. Leave them wanting more.