The end begins as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) go back to Hogwarts to find and destroy Voldemort's final horcruxes, but when Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) finds out about their mission, the biggest battle begins and life as they know it will never be the same again.

4.5
A triumphant, spell-binding finale for the Hogwarts wizards.

And so it ends, with arguably the most thrilling, spectacular, emotionally intense and vividly realised instalment of the record-breaking franchise.

Fully vindicating the producers’ decision to end the series with a double-header, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is sublimely entertaining.

Upgrading the format to 3D is a bonus, adding an extra layer to the visual splendour, making the Death Eaters, the snake and the Dark Lord Voldemort himself even more menacing and scarier.

At the risk of being picky, there are a few flaws. Screenwriter Steve Kloves (who adapted all but one of J.K. Rowling’s novels) had to cram in so many characters, events and flashbacks, a lot of actors who’ve been an integral part of the series are given short shrift in the finale. Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall, Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Miriam Margolyes, David Thewlis and Julie Walters make the briefest of curtain calls while Helena Bonham Carter’s Bellatrix Lestrange and John Hurt’s Ollivander are extended cameos.

After featuring prominently in part 1, Rupert Grint’s Ron and Emma Watson’s Hermione are relegated to secondary roles and given relatively little screen time to show their prowess as Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry takes centre stage in his climactic confrontation with Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort.

Speaking of Ralph, some might find his breathy declamations to be a tad over-theatrical but perhaps that’s how director David Yates asked him to play the demonic character.

Before the Warner Bros. logo appears, Voldemort is seen wielding the Elder Wand, the world’s most powerful, which he’d stolen from the slain Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), who later reappears for the film’s startling denouement.

Harry, Ron and Hermione are determined to track down the Horcruxes which contain fragments of the Dark Lord's soul and thus destroy him. Enlisting the aid of goblin Griphook (Warwick Davis), they sneak into Gringotts Bank to raid Bellatrix’s vault, where they believe one Horcrux is hidden, plunging into an exciting roller coaster ride. Finding they’ve been double-crossed, they escape on the back of a massive fire-breathing dragon, one of the many dazzling special effects.
After an illuminating encounter with Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth (Ciarán Hinds), the trio returns to Hogwarts, now ruled by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, enunciating in sibilant tone even"¦more"¦slowly than previously).

There are brief reunions with the nerdy Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Harry's girlfriend Ginny (Bonnie Wright) before the redoubtable Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) creates a shield around Hogwarts to try to keep Voldemort and his advancing army at bay. But the invaders' arrival causes numerous casualties, and casts a funereal air over Hogwarts.

After Harry and his nemesis’ first showdown in the Forbidden Forest, there are major revelations concerning Snape, Harry's mother and Dumbledore. An extended exchange between Dumbledore and his protégée Harry in what resembles a vast, empty, ghost-white railway station is stunningly rendered.

The final duel between our hero and Voldemort is superbly staged. Amid the spectacular set-pieces, there are occasional flashes of humour as when Neville mutters 'that went well" after one close scrape, Hermione despairingly says 'brilliant," McGonagall remarks 'I always wanted to use that spell".

A glimpse of the young Harry in the first edition, 2001’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when Radcliffe was 12, is a reminder of just how much the actor has evolved, matured and sharpened his skills in the past 10 years. The same is true, to a slightly lesser extent, of Watson and Grint.

You’d think Radcliffe and Watson, if not Grint too, will enjoy successful post-Potter careers. As for Hogwarts’ fans, we’ll just have to watch the DVDs.