After 10 years, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" is sending the beloved series out with a bang. Early reviews that trickled in last week pegged the movie as being the best "Harry Potter" installment. Now that the grand finale has hit theaters, "Deathly Hallows: Part 2" has solidified itself as far and away the series' most critically beloved.

Up until now, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" held that title, with a score of 91 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. But "Part 2" has blown that out of the water with a whopping 97 percent fresh and only five dissenters counted at press time.

Read our own "Deathly Hallows, Part 2" review over on the Movies Blog, and if that and the critical praise below get you to the theaters, send us your own reviews!

The Performances
"A decade later Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), have become powerful adult wizards, while the actors are now stars. Look closely and you can see the beard inching along Harry's, or rather Mr. Radcliffe's pale chin. Meanwhile Ms. Watson, smoldering in bruising dark lipstick on the cover of the July Vogue, has her own hair and makeup artist, and the director, David Yates, even trains the camera on her generous peekaboo cleavage. Just as startling is the transformation of Mr. Grint who, in one early, anxious scene wears a goatee and a panicked look that together suggest a junior Paul Giamatti. My, how the children have grown — and the movies too." — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Check out photos from the magical NYC premiere of "Deathly Hallows, Part 2."

The Split
"Splitting the final 'Potter' volume into two films was also to the advantage of Part 2, as was the fact that this film deals only with roughly the final third of the book. This enables it to avoid the tiresome teen angst that hampered Part 1 and devote almost all its time to action and confrontation, starting with the film's initial image of the dread Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) pointing the all-powerful Elder Wand to the sky and creating ... the Warner Bros. logo. Once this bit of business is out of the way, the plot kicks in with a vengeance." — Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

The Conclusion of the Series
"So many good films come to bad ends, but not the tales of Harry Potter. The final episode of Harry's epic journey, part 2 of 'The Deathly Hallows,' is the best possible end for the series that began a decade ago. In contrast to part 1, which was a ponderous exercise in stage-setting and dramatic incipience, this film, directed by David Yates and adapted by Steve Kloves, is a climax worthy of the term. It's a dark and thunderous pageant that sets its bespectacled hero in the midst of vast forces, yet never loses track of who he is — a brave boy, to borrow both parts of Dumbledore's fond phrase, on the way to becoming a wonderful man." — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

The Farewell Factor
"Nothing quite like this series has ever been tried before in cinema history, and as I wrote last year, following the central trio of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson through the aging process has itself forced the movies to confront Rowling's central themes, which I take to be 'the painful transition from childhood to adulthood, the loss of parents and loved ones, the first intimations of personal mortality.' For better or worse, Rowling's books and the hit-and-miss movies based on them have reshaped not just the marketplace for fiction and film but the contemporary cultural imagination, re-establishing fantasy as the central narrative mode (arguably for the first time since the Middle Ages)." — Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com

The Final Word
"This movie is impressively staged, the dialogue is given proper weight and not hurried through, there are surprises which, in hindsight, seem fair enough, and 'Harry Potter' now possesses an end that befits the most profitable series in movie history. These films will be around for a long time." — Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

Check out everything we've got on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2."

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