"I need to talk to the goblin," the young man says firmly, no longer a boy or even a teen, really. He's obeyed instantly. Obviously, we're still in J.K. Rowling's wizardly world, but Daniel Radcliffe steps into this one with a decade's conviction: We've seen him shuck off cutesiness and wrestle with adolescence---director Alfonso Cuarn's third installment, The Prisoner of Azkaban, was a standout. But the final Harry Potter movie, above all others, supplies Radcliffe with the gravitas of not just an epic story come to completion, but some real dramatic heft. Not so bad for a Hogwarts dropout.
Even for those not under Rowling's spell (how's that abandoned mine shaft working out?), a noticeable uptick in adult intrigue will be clear: Said goblin conversation is a tense negotiation, followed by knotty chats with a whispery wand-maker (John Hurt), an orotund dark headmaster (Rickman, still killing it with the evil voice) and, eventually, Old No-Nose himself, Lord Voldemort (Fiennes). The latter is still hunting Horcruxes, as are Harry and the gang---these are the bits of treasure that draw them closer to their long-telegraphed death embrace. This time, though, you can actually feel the scrapes of regret and sacrifice on our hero, as well as on one unlikely villain.
Finally, we're in a siege at a school, Voldemort's voice echoing scarily in the hallways. This series is so much more than a generation's stamp; it's been its escape from a frightening world. And still, Harry's story is one of embracing destiny and relinquishing power; stewarded by the actorcentric director David Yates and scored by Alexandre Desplat's supplest orchestral strains, this fleet, triumphant sequel puts people first. I'd call that growing up.
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