Who's In It: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy, Julie Walters, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter
The Basics: Voldemort's got everything pretty much the way he wants it these days. He controls the Ministry of Magic. He controls Hogwarts. He's got their teachers hanging up in his dining room, just waiting to be devoured by one of his pet megasnakes. But three people he doesn't yet control are the plucky child-wizards, now grown into plucky early-adulthood wizards with five o'clock shadow and Burberry modeling contracts, the ones who are determined to obliterate old No-Nose into dust. You just have to wait until July of 2011 to see that part. In this one they run around collecting Horcruxes. Still awesome, though.
What's The Deal: I could just type a series of 1s and 0s for this review and it wouldn't make one bit of difference. After six movies you already know which camp you're in. You've seen none of them or you've seen all of them at least three or more times, and no 500 words of opinionating from me is going to sway you. So all there is to say is that HP7.1 is everything the fans want it to be. It's handsomely produced, beautifully art directed, serious-face-acted by everyone on screen and still the doomiest coming-of-age series of films since the ones Truffaut made about Antoine Doinel. Google it, kids.
The Best Part Is Also The Boringest: Sometimes all that running and wanding and obliviating can wear a teen wizard down. They've been getting chased for six movies in a row now by some evildoer or other. That means it was high time that these kids kicked back and went on a camping trip. Now, it's not really much of a camping trip. They're on the trail of hidden Horcruxes--each one contains a piece of Voldemort's soul--and they have to destroy them. But that leaves a lot of downtime for reading, looking great in incredibly black-metalish winter forests, squabbling about dumb teenage drama while sitting around in tents and slow-dancing to Nick Cave songs. It's kind of like watching a Sofia Coppola short film about adolescent torpor dropped down into the middle of a can-do adventure movie about the hovering specter of death.
MVP: Dobby. The big-eyed, lion-hearted, digital elf seemed to teeter on the verge of becoming this franchise's Jar Jar Binks in his earliest appearances. But in this final chapter he's the one who breaks your heart. Nope, I didn't see it coming either.
What You'll Be Most Thankful For: It's not in 3-D. These movies are too much all-consuming fun to need that gimmick. Here's hoping they scrap their plans to release Part 2 that way.