At least, that seems to be the consensus across the US as teenagers and young adults tweet from their places in line to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. J. K. Rowling's meditation on accepting maturity, mortality and standing up for love in its truest sense of the word has brought a generation along with it.
The good news for them is that this David Yates-directed last chapter brings everything home in journeyman fashion. For anybody who somehow stumbles into this saga at the end, it's hard to see how it would make much sense. It picks up exactly where Part 1 left off, with Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort discovering the most powerful wand of them all – one might call it his precious. Elsewhere on a beach, Harry mourns the sacrifice of Dobbie the Elf. And those who have not understood the pleasure of Harry Potter are lost.
Are there such people? Let Fanboy Planet be listed firmly as being there from the beginning.
As have been most of the actors, in what really has been a stunning achievement in casting if nothing else. We've literally watched Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up on screen, a point brought home in a montage showing key scenes from earlier films but from a hidden perspective. The producers got lucky; all three child actors grew up to be decent young adult actors.
Of course, they've also been surrounded by some of the best in the business, most of whom show up for the final siege of Hogwarts, even if only for a moment. (Blink and you'll miss Emma Thompson, but she's there. Damn Zoe Wanamaker's pride; she should have been.)
For the most part, it's a satisfying film, though lacking the auteur's touch that only Alfonso Cuaron's The Prisoner of Azkaban had. This late in the game, screenwriter Steven Kloves had to scramble to decide which plot points still mattered, and how to do justice to a cast this big. That he managed to cut it down to only two parts of less than two and a half hours each is noteworthy.
That goes as well for Robbie Coltrane's last turn as Hagrid. The character barely shows up, gets only a couple of lines and then Coltrane still manages to make an impression.
Kloves' script drops the biggest controversy from the book, a shame, perhaps, but ultimately it really doesn't affect the plot, just some richness. If you don't know, don't ask. We're not sure if we can tell this week.
The film also seems at its strongest in intimate moments. Though Yates stages a fairly pulse-pounding sequence in the Room of Requirement which does forward some character growth, it's at the expense of the first battle at Hogwarts. That part's a mess, random figures swirling and fighting around the castle, with the battle's casualties often showing up already dead in their first appearances in the film.
Actually seeing them fight and die might have proven too emotionally draining. After all, you can put a book down and walk away to recover from each shock. But on film, trying to distance us from that much catharsis is, well, distancing. While characters onscreen mourn, it's curiously unaffecting.
Once Yates finds the individuals to pin the emotional weight upon, it works very well. Just as in the book, Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) believably comes into his own, and the battle sequences that keep him centered soar. And any scene between Fiennes and Radcliffe just crackles. It's actually disturbing how well Fiennes inhabits the role of Voldemort.
Perhaps we should call this one critic-proof anyway. You've come this far. It's an achievement, no doubt. In a strange way, it also brings the series full circle. Yet for the hardcore fans, there's a slight nagging feeling that it needed just a little more.
Let that be on the DVD. Let there be deleted scenes galore. But for now, gather together, people. Bid farewell to Harry, Ron and Hermione in a massive gestalt. Weep if you must. Then remember that tomorrow you can just pop …and the Sorcerer's Stone into your DVD player.