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Harry Potter Fights Its Last Battle

Bespectacled Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) squares off against amphibian-faced Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

, a magnificent finale for this beloved billion-dollar fantasy franchise.

Before that confrontation can take place, though, David Yates's 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's latest boasts an almost classical attention to mood and

composition, but performance truly trumps spectacle, especially with

regards to Alan Rickman, capping off his iconic turn as Professor

Severus Snape by slowing his dialogue down to a sinister crawl, and

Radcliffe, completing his portrait of Harry's transformation from

wide-eyed naïf 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.

Look for the full review is this week's issue.

--Nick Schager

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