Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, who have been on the run, have just escaped torture at the Malfoy Manor buried the house-elf Dobby. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has cracked open the casket of the late Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to take possession of the powerful Elder Wand. Severus Snape is now the totalitarian headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Harry, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) are in search of horcruxes, objects where Voldemort has stashed pieces of his soul.
With an escape from Gringotts Bank, flying dragons, an attack on the Hogwarts castle, a flight through the Room of Requirement and, of course, the final duels, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” is the fastest-paced and most action-filled of the movies as it thunders through the last third of the 759-page book. The Chamber of Secrets (from the second installment) is also revisited.
Many of the characters have their moment. The uptight Professor Minerva MacGonagall (Maggie Smith) casts a spell that she has always wanted to and duels with Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). Neville Longbottom stands up to Voldemort. And Molly Weasley (Julia Mary Walters) delivers her rather infamous line from the book (see page 736) in a duel with Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).
Carter gives an impressive performance when Hermione pretends to be Bellatrix under a polyjuice potion.
The final pieces of the puzzle — including Snape’s long-held secrets — are revealed, bringing full-circle the events that started when Harry’s parents died.
As it is the final, culminating battle in this war of good and evil, there is plenty of violence in this film. The castle is attacked and many characters that viewers have become familiar with die — and some of their deaths aren’t pleasant.
Directed by David Yates, who was at the helm for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” Part 2 hits the main plot points in the book, but explanations of horcruxes, wand lore, the Deathly Hallows and other plot elements are left to Part 1, so watch it first before heading into the theaters or see our primer.
Three points for parents
1. Violence: It’s rated PG-13 for a reason. The war scenes, fighting and destruction are more violent than those of previous movies. Voldemort is ruthless and tends to kill people for little to no reason. Also, the movie franchise’s language has been been reflective of the books — so expect a swear word from Molly Weasley in the duel with Bellatrix Lestrange.
2. Mind readers: Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter have a telepathic-like connection that can be disturbing as Voldemort is inside Harry’s head.
3. Death and dying: Some of the better-know characters don’t make it and the directors weren’t shy about showing lifeless bodies. Several who died are shown later through flashbacks or in ghost-like form.