Calling all wizards, witches and muggles: The last installment of the Harry Potter franchise arrives July 15, and while we mere mortals have to wait till then to view the final battle between good and evil, members of the press already have had a chance to see Harry and Voldemort fight to the end. And with the reviews trickling in, the first takes are incredibly positive. The consensus so far: The story line, acting, action and effects are outstanding. But don't take our word for it -- here are some samples. Warning: Just in case you haven't read the books, there are spoilers.
TheWrap: "With the million awful, tacky, shrill, stupid, condescending, tasteless, 'Eragon'-y things that could have gone wrong over the 10 years and eight movies that brought J.K. Rowling's mega-popular Harry Potter series to the big screen, it's practically a statistical anomaly that the final entry, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,' brings its A-game from start to finish ... If you have no affection for these British teen wizards, of course, this is not the movie that's going to make you change your mind. But if you've been a devoted follower of the Potter saga in print and at the movies, you'll come away from this final chapter with a feeling of catharsis and, perhaps, a slightly damp handkerchief."
The Hollywood Reporter: "It ends well. After eight films in 10 years and a cumulative global box-office take of more than $6.3 billion, the most successful franchise in the history of movies comes to an obligatory -- and quite satisfying -- conclusion in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.' Fully justifying the decision, once thought purely mercenary, of splitting J.K. Rowling's final book into two parts, this is an exciting and, to put it mildly, massively eventful finale that will grip and greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to now. If ever there was a sure thing commercially, this stout farewell is it ... Technically, nothing has been held back. The eventual sight of Hogwarts as a crumbled ruin is striking, Eduardo Serra's cinematography outclasses what he accomplished the last time out, and some of Nick Dudman's makeup effects -- especially with the goblins and a shocking glimpse of a fetal Voldemort -- are sensational. Alexandre Desplat's score is arguably the best yet for the series, briefly incorporating echoes of John Williams' original themes while richly boosting the already heightened drama of this sendoff to such a tremendously successful series."
The Sun: "I am a fan of both the books and films and it is sad to say goodbye to the boy wizard so many have grown up with. But at least he gets the send-off he deserves - with a 3D blast of visual wizardry. Trick after dazzling trick are pulled from director David Yates's CGI sleeve as the second part of the final book hits the big screen ... Yates has wisely tickled the face-off between the rivals to make it even better than the version Rowling wrote in her book. Unlike many other franchises, the quality of the Harry Potter films never dropped. The producers could have broken box office records with a basic cardboard set thanks to the dedicated fan base. Yet they have blown a fortune to make a special experience for them."
The Telegraph: "Perhaps the greatest triumph of this final film is its ability to overcome the deficiencies of J.K. Rowling's writing. In the last Harry Potter volume, she failed singularly to muster the epic feel needed; as a result, on the page, the concluding battle at Hogwarts was a damp squib ... This is monumental cinema, awash with gorgeous tones, and carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it."
Daily Express: "Fans can rest assured -- without wishing to spoil any of the major plot lines -- that their patience will be paid off fully, and some, in the final epic Harry Potter chapter. The eighth and final installment goes out with a bang, pulling on heart strings at every turn ... Quite rightly, there is plenty to celebrate and there are some incredibly touching scenes at Hogwarts, as old friends face up to the fact that adulthood is upon them and it is time to say goodbye. The goodbyes filmed here feel very real. For a cast that has spent a decade growing up together in real life as well as on screen, it must have been the hardest goodbye of their young lives."
Variety: "The series' shortest entry at 131 minutes, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2' surges ahead with tremendous urgency, superb spectacle and powerful, even overwhelming emotion, only to falter with a hasty sendoff that seems to buckle under the weight of audience expectations. Tears will be shed as fans bid farewell to Hogwarts, but catharsis remains just out of reach ... Such enormous anticipation has saddled 'Part 2' with pressures no movie should have to bear, and it should rightly be viewed and assessed as the second half of one long film (the full double feature is being presented in select theaters). Still, as director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have constructed their two-part finale to pay off in full here, it's only fair to expect this eighth chapter to stand on its own, which it does up to a point. Indeed, with its accelerated rhythm, relentless flow of incident and wizard-war endgame, 'Part 2' will strike many viewers as a much more exciting, involving picture than the slower, more atmospheric 'Part 1.'"