The final Harry Potter film is upon us, and yes, it's an overwhelming adventure. There's an incredible dragon sequence, a major Hogwarts battle, and - maybe most breathless of all - a kiss between Ron and Hermione. The story sprints along without many breaks, and if you're not familiar with the books, you might get lost. (We've read all of them, and there were moments when we still needed to catch our breath and ask, "Wait, who's the old guy in the secret passage?")
So many parts of the movie look incredible: There's the Goblin bank with its elvish clerks; the Hogwarts ceiling as it's patched with protective enchantments; the skin that literally scales across Voldemort's cold and frail arms.
But the best magic in this movie doesn't come from a wand, or even from the Jim Henson creature shop (though to be fair, between the snakes and the dragons, we were thoroughly impressed).
Instead, the true power stems from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and the rest of the young adult cast, most of whom have been in the films for ten years. Seeing them grow from the Itty Bitty Hogwarts Committee into healthy, brave, and complicated people is more exciting than even the most intricate spell, and once some of their bodies lie lifeless in the Great Hall, you will be more upset than you care to admit.
If the Harry Potter books are about the thin line between good and evil, then the movies are about growing up, and the fact that as we get older, that line gets even more blurred and bittersweet. In this film, that point is hit home in flashbacks to childhoods - both Harry's, his mother Lilly's, and the series' ultimate tragic hero, Severus Snape.
In fact, the scenes in which Snape and Lilly first meet, explore the worlds of magic, and find their own (very separate) niches in the world are some of the best in the entire Potter series - they're beautiful, sad, scary, and inevitable, just like the act of growing up itself.
Snape's hatred towards Harry takes on a wrenching new meaning when you understand the volatile mixture of jealousy, adoration, and repulsion that ties him to the Potter clan. Narcissa Malfoy also has a fun moment of secret betrayal that makes you like her (and her wardrobe) that much more. Professor McGonagall finally gets to kick some Death Eater ass, and yes, the beloved moment where Mrs. Weasley curses out Bellatrix LeStrange is loudly and proudly enacted.
That's all very satisfying, but our favorite part was a quiet moment in the middle, when 10-year-old Lilly Potter learns how to enchant a daisy in the middle of a field. It was beautiful, and magical, and a sweet reminder of what everyone - Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and J.K. Rowling herself - was fighting so hard to protect.
PS: Our second favorite moment was Emma Watson wearing Bellatrix LeStrange's black corset and crushed velvet maxi-dress. It was a little '90s Goth for Hermione, but a very good look nonetheless.