The ballet that is the Harry Potter franchise comes to its end with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" – one of the most satisfying codas in recent memory.
This movie begins where Part 1 ended. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) now owns one part of the Deathly Hallows, the Elder Wand. The Deathly Hallows is a three-part combination of elements making the holder the most powerful wizard in the world.
Harry is seen kneeling at the grave of the house elf, Dobby (Toby Jones). He must resume the unfinished business of finding and destroying the Horcruxes, which are the parts of Voldemort's soul.
This division of soul has made Voldemort invulnerable. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are journeying across the wizarding world looking for them, hoping to bring them back and make Voldemort a mere mortal.
The journey takes them back to Hogwarts, which brings about the climactic battle. One of the rich aspects of the Potter franchise is the unflinching vision that evil is unyielding and those that get in its way may die or be hurt.
The franchise has shown the deaths of Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black, Dumbledore and the aforementioned Dobby, and here we see many familiar characters pass on as Voldemort's terror spreads.
One of the more important aspects of the Harry Potter epic addressed in this movie is the role of Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). Rickman's Snape is one of the most complex characters in this saga.
We have seen bits and pieces of who he is, but now we finally get the whole picture. Rickman has played this role with a certain meanness, but there is a deep empathy behind it.
Rickman deserves a nomination as Best Supporting Actor for this picture. I would go so far as to say he should win.
But back to the story, which has Harry and company continually working out the riddles of the Horcruxes in order to have a chance at taking down Voldemort. Harry's continual reliance on his friends, and their willingness to step up for Harry, make the final confrontation possible.
This has been a running theme of the series. When Harry confronts Voldemort at the end of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," he tells Voldemort that he pities him because he does not have anyone that loves him; there is no real friendship in Voldemort's life.
This point is driven home over and over. Voldemort is not revered, but feared. None of those that serve him does so out of anything other than the false hope that they may benefit from Voldemort.
What comes into clear relief here is that Harry Potter is a messianic figure. He confronts evil in order that others may live. His is a story of sacrifice for the sake of the right and the good.
In the end, all the talk about the Harry Potter books and movies leading children down a pathway of satanic worship and witchcraft is misguided.
The truth is that for 10 years this franchise has taken us on a journey of revelation and realization.
We have learned that evil, when given into, does nothing but kill and maim both body and spirit. It takes courage and love to stand against it.
Harry Potter embodied this. When someone needed to stand in the gap, he stood up and stood there. He did not take the easy path.
In the first movie, Harry meets Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), who comes from a family of means and power.
Befriending him would mean an easy path at Hogwarts for Harry. But Harry rebuffs the offer. He knows Malfoy to be cruel and condescending.
Instead, he befriends Ron, who is from the working-class wizarding Weasley family, and Hermione, from the mudblood-born Muggle Grangers. Harry walks the path that is hardest because it is the path of right and redemption.
What a wondrous movie to end one of the great movie franchises.
MikeParnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.
Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves (based on the novel by J.K. Rowling)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe: Harry Potter; Rupert Grint: Ron Weasley; Emma Watson: Hermione Granger; Ralph Fiennes: Voldemort; Alan Rickman: Severus Snape; Michael Gambon: Dumbledore.