\’Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2,\’ the culmination of a decade-long saga in film, will premiere tonight at midnight in most theaters.[/media-credit]

It’s finally here: The end of an era, the final installment of the phenomenon that defined a generation: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2.”  

This is a conclusion more than 10 years in the making, and those belonging to the generation the series defined have a special stake in it; they watched as the characters in the film grew up just as they themselves did. This is surely a bittersweet moment in the hearts of many fans of the books and/or the movies: On one hand, we are reaching the culmination of so much buildup and the best part of what is arguably the best book. On the other hand, this is our last view into the magical (sorry) world that author J.K. Rowling created. The good news is the series is going out with a bang of which You-Know-Who himself would be proud.

In comparison to the previous film adaptations, “Part 2” is quite faithful to its novel counterpart. However, this isn’t really saying much as only the first and most recent movies have been anything but abysmal in their adaptations. In “Part 2,” all of the main plot points are there, thankfully (I’m looking at you, “Order of the Phoenix”). Astute readers/viewers will undoubtedly catch several changes/omissions, but none of them are too drastic. The most important aspect of this adaptation, and indeed all adaptations, is that the emotion stays intact. In all but two events very late in the movie, the emotion is there in all its heartstring-pulling, inspirational glory. All in all, “Part 2” does an admirable job putting the viewer in the same place that the reader was so masterfully transported to in the books.

Taken only as a movie, the eighth Harry Potter film is nearly flawless. David Yates, director of the last three Potter films, returns to helm this entry. Also, all the main cast returns from the previous seven movies: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort and last but not least, Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom; all do excellent jobs in their roles, excepting Radcliffe’s sometimes adramatic delivery and Fiennes’ sometimes laughable attempts at sounding crazy/evil/what-have-you. As is typical for Harry Potter movies, Emma Watson steals the show in every scene she appears. The real star, however, is Alan Rickman in his evermore-demanding role, as Snape endures increasing pressure to stay loyal to the deceased (by his own hand) Dumbledore as well as maintain his vital image of subservience to the Dark Lord. Also worth noting, Polyjuice Potion again makes a comedic appearance in the form of Hermione’s transformation into the always-stellar Helena Bonham Carter (who is given a criminally small portion of screen time in what could almost be described as a cameo role) as the infinitely evil Bellatrix Lestrange.

The movie begins exactly where “Part 1” left off, giving the viewer almost no hint of a recap. Unlike the previous movie, this installment is much more action-oriented than the plodding character piece that “Part 1” was. Harry and the gang are still searching for Voldemort’s horcruxes in an effort to kill him once and for all. Their search leads them to the depths of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, the familiar (but distinctly darker) halls and grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry’s mind and even Snape’s memories. The only gripes to be had are constant, painful and unnecessary attempts at humor, the aforementioned acting slips by Radcliffe and Fiennes, the average, forgettable music and the epilogue that feels equally tacked on here as in the book.

This final movie proves that each book should have been split into two parts for maximum quality and adds an exclamation point to the series that grew with all those who were fortunate enough to experience it. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2” is by no means a perfect movie, but it is easily the best in the series and should be seen by any fan of the books and/or films. It is as fitting an end as the series could ask for.

4 stars out of 5