‘Harry Potter’: A wonderful end to the spell

(L-r) EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger, DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter and RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ fantasy adventure ÒHARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Ð PART 2,Ó a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Muggles, grab your invisibility cloaks and your dark-rimmed, round spectacles and head to the theater.

It’s the end of era. The release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 means tears if you’re the sentimental type, cheers if you’ve been with Harry, Hermione and Ron all the way, and saying goodbye to those kids you watched grow up over eight movies during the past 10 years.

I was pleased that HP 7.2 is a good deal shorter than Part 1. The books are long, but a four-and-a-half-hour movie to tell a single story (combining the run time of the two films) is pushing it for me.

The ultimate battle of good versus evil finally culminates in HP 7.2. Once again, there is no back story or explanation. The movie jumps right in where Part 1 ended with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his buddies, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), still looking for the seven Horcruxes (dark magical objects) that he needs to take down the evil Lord Voldemort once and for all.

Searching for the Horcruxes really bogged down most of Part 1, which sometimes was a bit too slow for my taste (hence it’s graded A- on my review back in November). Since they’ve already found most of them, director David Yates was able to refocus the story to make it more action-based. In particular, there are some enjoyable battle scenes toward the end.

Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his followers (known as Death Eaters) are also seeking to find and eliminate Harry.

Each of the Harry Potter movies has gotten progressively darker, and this one is the darkest, gloomiest movie yet. Even the Hogwarts School is a shell of its former self, looking war-torn and ravaged. Only at the very end does the audience finally see some daylight.

Harry’s longtime foe, former professor and current headmaster Severus Snape, rules the school, and actor Alan Rickman really rocks his scenes, just as he has in all of the movies.

Snape is one of those characters the audience has loved to hate over the years. By the end, all of that dislike will be forgotten. Snape’s scenes in HP 7.2 are some of the most emotionally moving in the movie.

Minor characters such as Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) have small but important roles. Harry’s mentor, Professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), shows up in flashbacks.

One of the best things about Harry Potter is that it never really experienced any kind of sequel slump that befalls many movies. The movies also fare well in comparison to the books. Radcliffe, Watson and Grint have grown more confident in their roles with every movie; they really seem like true friends.

Author J.K. Rowling first cast a spell on audiences in 1997 with the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone. She and the various movie directors have managed to make words like Quidditch, butterbeer, horcruxes and Muggles seem like everyday vernacular. Seven books, eight movies and 14 years later, it’s finally time for the spell to be broken. ••

Movie Grade: A