The final instalment of the Harry Potter saga sees Daniel Radcliffe's teenage wizard locked in the climactic battle for survival with the evil Lord Voldemort. Together with his trusty sidekicks Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), Harry is seeking the Horcruxes that hold the key to his power... but You-Know-Who now has the Elder Wand and aims to gain complete control after a decisive attack on Hogwarts. Stunning setpieces, a heart-rending emotional pull and an awesome finale bring the Potter saga to a worthy close.
After ten years, seven (and a bit) books, planet-sized hauls of merchandise, a global fanbase that's as incredible as it is bewildering and 1178 movie minutes (that's a bum-numbing 19.5 hours for those of you planning a Potter marathon), Harry Potter is finally laying down his wand.
While $6 billion worth of box office receipts argue otherwise, many will admit that the movie series has had somewhat of a wonky ride when it comes to delivering on the expectations of its audience.
So it's all the more remarkable that David Yates has managed to wrap up the series with a finale that's as moving, spectacular and engaging for both die-hards and casual fans alike.
Part 1's tent-tastic two hour treasure hunt to find and destroy fragments of Voldemort's soul (horcruxes) was a necessary and perfunctory set-up, but fans would be lying if they said they weren't a little disappointed at the lack of pace or action.
This more than makes up for that, with a refreshingly to the point, streamlined plot that focuses on two simple things - the destruction of the last few Horcruxes, and the world-ending Battle of Hogwarts between Voldemort's evil forces and Harry's friends and family as they struggle to defend their beloved school under siege from all sides.
With Harry finally back on home turf on what's essentially a suicide mission, there's an urgency about proceedings and a familiarity with the setting that makes it all the more heart-breaking when both friends and the surroundings start to crumble around him.
Screenwriter Steven Kloves adapts Rowling's apocalyptic plot with panache, gifting each part of the Potter-verse its own fleeting swansong and reminding fans of quite how lovingly constructed the franchise's four directors have crafted its on-screen presence over the years.
From a heart-racing Gringott's break-in (and out), to pivotal moments in the Room of Requirement, the court yard and the Forbidden Forest, Yates dances a poignant and pointed trail through the hearts of the fans and characters alike (both Matt Lewis as Neville Longbottom and Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall shine bright and exemplify the supporting cast's weight amidst the bloody chaos).
The action too is undeniably breathtaking, and while it's not quite Helm's Deep levels of scale or brutality, the all out assault - featuring trolls, giant snake Nagini, werewolves, acromantulas (giant spiders), dragons, and dementors, is gritty and surprisingly bloody (bring hankies), but delicately balanced and fitting of a franchise-ending finale.
And while it's undeniably and consistently entertaining, it's not perfect. Harry's 'white room' encounter with Dumbledore is overstocked with purposefully ambiguous (and still insensible) cod-waffle philosophy, while the sheer franticness of the battle undercuts the occasional character pay-off (one of the book's stand-out fist-pumping moments, between Mrs Weasley and Bellatrix, comes off rushed).
Ultimately though, it comes down the story of Harry, Voldemort, Ron and Hermione, and all four leads are on fine form. While Rupert Grint and Emma Watson sell their long-awaited, fan-pleasing romance and have their own adventurous subplots to run off on, it's Daniel Radcliffe who owns the screen in a climatic battle of ego and physicality against the consistently sneersome, venomous and captivating Ralph Fiennes.
Radcliffe's performance is fittingly reflective of the franchise as a whole - after a stumbling start and some awkward middle years, they've both grown into their own, maturing and entertaining in increasing measure to produce characters and plots as surprisingly emotive as they are layered and grandiose.
And it's not often you can say that about a Hollywood franchise.