For those not familiar with J. K. Rowlings’ iron will: Yes it really is the last film. In a world brimming with reboots and poor-quality sequels, that alone makes the Harry Potter film series unique. And in case you’re wondering – yes, oh definitely yes. It ends.
It is possible to enjoy this film without seeing the rest – but you’ll never lose the sense that you arrived late at a party.
As the ending to an eight-film series, it is a masterpiece. We finally understand Snape, Dumbledore, and even Harry himself. Every thread is tied up, and there is no wiggle room left for further mayhem. I particularly enjoyed the epilogue.
Characterisation is done, and done just right, in just a few seconds (not just for the major characters, but for several other favourites as well). The pacing allows space for fear, despair, building tension – and even grief and laughter. Visually it is beautiful (although very dark); the effects are flawless. The acting, now that the cast is completely grown up, is great.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a children’s film. It most certainly is not. There is a LOT of darkness and a lot of death – and some of the deaths are absolutely nightmare-inducing. I had my eyes closed more than once.
In my opinion, the films are better than the later books, because Harry Potter spends too much time being miserable in print (which gets irritating), and that is cut from the films. The plots do tend to be rather squashed, but oh well. The one flaw I could find in this film was one I was expecting from having read the book. In my opinion, although it has several functions, the “white room” scene is just. . . a bit silly. Everything that it does could be done elsewhere.
It did give Harry some great heroic moments, though.
Speaking of which, that is a particular strength of the film: badass moments. There are lots of them, and they are all done very, very well.
Do see the film on the big screen if you can (like I even need to tell you). There will never again be an eight-film series done this well.