(CBS) And so the epic ends.
Ten years after we were first introduced on the big screen to the boyish charm and acute quick-wit of an undeniably special lad named Harry Potter, the final chapter of a movie series that has morphed into the most prodigious film franchise in history leaves viewers soaring, taking them on one final magical adventure, before coming quietly to rest. The ending to a saga fraught with themes of morality and atonement could not have been more befitting - emotional and epic, yet quiet and subdued.
Exhilarating and completely satisfying, yet not overwhelming, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" is symbolic of all the hallmarks of a story that throughout its narrative has both peaked and ebbed, deftly maneuvering between grand, overarching themes, before always coming back to being the tale of a young boy, who has lost his parents, trying to find his way in the world.
"Deathly Hallows: Part 2" picks up exactly where its precursor left off and continues for the first part in a slower paced, somber vein. We see Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) seated at the tombstone of his dear friend Dobby the elf, saying goodbye, before resuming on his quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes and Voldemort, with the help of his stalwart friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint).
The quest before them remains daunting and with time running out, as Voldemort becomes increasingly desperate to enable darkness to conquer the boy wizard, Ron and Hermione find themselves on a path that takes them to the underbelly of Gringotts Bank before bringing them back to Hogwarts and into the company of many of the faces fans have come to love (and hate) over the course of seven previous films, including Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Sybill Trelawney (Emma Thompson), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Aberforth (Ciaran Hinds), Albus Dumbledore's sour brother. Their search for the Horcruxes serves as the perfect vehicle to conjure up events and images that have previously been so intricately sewn into the fabric of their fantastical tale.
Director David Yates does not put a foot wrong in bringing this excellent adventure to a satisfying conclusion. He takes great strides to make sure every loose end is wrapped up, with no question left unanswered for legions of fans who have followed the masterful tale of wizards and warlocks for a decade. He, together with screenwriter Steve Kloves, couldn't have got it more right. For the many who have quite literally grown up with an angst-ridden Harry and his friends and felt a comparable sense of turmoil in their own world, there will, no doubt, along with the sense of fulfillment and closure Deathly Hallows brings, also come a sense of a certain coming of age.
Radcliffe, Watson and Grint have grown before our eyes into young adults and first rate actors. Their measured performances in this final installment comes from their ability to connect with the characters they play that have become a part of who they have been for the last 10 years of their lives.
The decision by the filmmakers and Warner Brothers to air this final installment in both 2D and 3D is interesting. Having watched this and all the others the old-fashioned way, I'm not sure how much more a 3D version will add. The film is enhanced by the use of strong imagery and special effects, but is never overwhelmed by them. This is a film that holds its own with no superfluous gimmicks necessary.
The overall emotional intensity and sheer brilliance of the simplicity of the performances is what makes this film a winner and one that is movie history in the making. It is monumental cinema and though the franchise may be ending, for Muggles everywhere "Deathly Hallows" will ensure the magic of Harry Potter lives on forever.