In the second part of the final Harry Potter film, we finally get to see what happens after the events of the previous movie. For those who have been following the series, this should come as no great surprise, as the events of the previous film were shown in a flash-forward that took us to a few years after the end of the wizarding war.

The previous film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, focused on the search for the Deathly Hallows, the three magic wands that hold powerful supernatural objects called Horcruxes. In the course of locating these objects, the film chronicled the adventures of a group of unlikely heroes – three young wizards and one faithful golden retriever named Harry – as they battled the Dark Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. After the events of the previous film, Harry is still driven by a desire to discover the truth about his parents’ murder, even as he takes up a new life as an Auror, tasked with tracking down and defeating Voldemort and his allies. Meanwhile, a peace treaty is established between the wizarding world and the Muggles, with Voldemort going into self-imposed exile and planning his comeback.

An Unexpected Reunion

While the previous film focused on Harry and his quest for answers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opens with a stunning new scene that surprises even veteran viewers. After a short prologue that provides important exposition about the status of the wizarding world, we cut to Harry and his allies, Ginny, Ron and Hermione, relaxing in a sunny Hogwarts garden. Unbeknownst to Harry, Ron and Hermione’s summer vacation was repeatedly interrupted by the same dream, in which they were forced to break into Hogwarts to save Harry from a giant snake– the boa constrictor Asdrubal. Upon awakening, the trio realize that the snake in their dream was a real creature, and that their vacation had in fact been hijacked by Death Eaters. Ron and Hermione soon track down the snake, and are relieved to discover that it is safe, although slightly annoyed that their summer break was interrupted.

The Dark Lord Is Thwarted

With Lord Voldemort back in power, it should come as no great surprise that Harry’s peace treaty with the Muggles is once again up for negotiation. The Dark Lord demands that Muggles accept him as their ruler, or face the consequences, and Hogwarts immediately launches into session. Much to the delight of Harry’s remaining allies, the Dark Lord is thwarted in his plans to subjugate the Muggles, thanks to a daring rescue operation. Though Voldemort receives a rather severe shock and retreats to lick his wounds, the Muggles continue to resist his rule, and in the process we are introduced to several new and returning characters. Amongst these, Arthur Weasley and Fred Weasley, twin brothers and founders of the wonderful Weasley company, are two important new additions: Arthur becomes Minister for Magic and Fred, sporting a magnificent mustache, becomes a knight.

An Important Development For Harry

Fred’s grand plan to combine his company’s extensive knowledge of wizards and magic with a swarm of wooden soldiers to fight the good fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters comes to fruition in the form of the Fantastic Mr. Fox, an animated squirrel-themed wonderment complete with marionette. Mr. Fox proves his value by ambushing a group of Death Eaters and saving Harry’s life. As a goodwill gesture, Harry decides to forgive Mr. Fox for the mischief he causes, and agrees to help him find Mr. Fox’s wife, Mrs. Fox, who has gone missing. With the aid of Ron’s Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry contact, Rowan, they set out to find the elusive Mrs. Fox, who turns out to be an extremely important character in the final installment of the series. In the course of their journey, the unlikely trio encounter several interesting characters, as well as the giants of literature and fairy tales, including Beowulf, King Arthur and a terrifying Grendal.

A Whole New World

One of the pleasures of this installment of the Harry Potter series is watching the familiar faces – and places – of Rowling’s magical world transformed into vivid, living things, by the skillful artists at WETA Washington, D.C. Having previously worked on the costumes for the films, these artisans deserve a medal for the breathtaking detail and authenticity of their work. We see the familiar muggle London of Harry’s early years, transformed into an elegant city of grand houses and leafy squares; Portkey, the hidden magical city of the goblins, with its labyrinthine streets and crooked-nosed landlord, Mr. Binkley; Hagrid’s gloomy mountain castle; and the awe-inspiring Egyptian monuments at Hogwarts.

Rowan, one of Harry’s fellow students at Hogwarts, bears a startling resemblance to a certain blonde teenaged girl who turns out to be one of Voldemort’s true lieutenants, Dolores “La Grande Jacque” Crabbe. It is only in the last moments of the film that we learn that Rowan is in fact a girl, and that she hides her true identity from the public due to the extreme prejudice against half-breeds in the magical community. Her father is a French-Canadian Muggle artist who was horribly burned in a car accident many years ago, and her mother is a powerful and wealthy Muggle businesswoman who owns a large number of properties in the France. The two women live a life of luxury, completely insulated from the truth about their only child’s dark heritage.

A Whole New Set of Questions

There are several questions raised by this installment of the Harry Potter series that will likely remain unanswered for some time. The first of these is, what happened to the elder Malfoy family? While we learn that Lucius and Narcissa are still alive and living in luxury, we do not see them make an appearance in the film, nor is there any mention of their daughters, Remus and Rosie. It is likely that Rowling has decided to leave this mystery hanging in the air, to be resolved in a later book.

An Incomplete Journey

The one truly disappointing aspect of this wonderful series is that it is an incomplete story. While we learn more about the characters as the series continues, we have to put up with the occasional information gap, as the author chooses to leave some things for the imagination to fill in. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the character of Rowan. We are told almost nothing about her, other than that she is a fellow student at Hogwarts, and that she bears a striking resemblance to a certain blonde adolescent girl. Fans of the series will have to make do with their imagination, as it were.

Other than this, however, we are given an entirely new set of questions to ponder. While the previous two films focused on Harry’s quest for the truth about his parents’ murder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 delves deeper into the heart of Voldemort and the evil that he represents, confronting him with the repercussions of the wizarding war that he started so long ago. The story focuses on Harry’s struggle to fulfill his ultimate destiny and vanquish the man who took his parents’ lives in the first place, and what his future would look like without Voldemort’s constant threat of retaliation. What kind of world will Harry Potter end up ruling? How will the Muggles react to his efforts? Will Mr. and Mrs. Weasley be together at the end? Will Fred and Arthur be able to keep up their spirits? These questions will no doubt occupy the minds of fans as they journey to the theaters this coming October, just in time for Halloween.