"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," the eighth and final film in Warner Bros.' long-running franchise based on author J.K. Rowling's bestselling novels, picks up immediately where last year's "Part 1" left off. That's no issue for die-hard fans of the movie saga that dates back to 2001, but it might be a bit confusing to those Muggles who have only a passing acquaintance with the film franchise.
For anyone in need of a Magic 101 refresher course, here are some basic questions and answers to help you follow along:
What happened in "Part 1"?
Evil wizard Voldemort (reptilian Ralph Fiennes) has become more powerful than ever; his followers, the Death Eaters, have taken control of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry following the murder of beloved headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two best friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), set out to destroy several "Horcruxes" in the hopes of ultimately defeating the villain, who, of course, killed Harry's parents when he was just an infant. It hasn't been easy, especially with the Death Eaters, including the wild-haired Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) tracking their movements.
A Horcrux is what exactly?
These mostly harmless objects (a diary, a locket, a ring, among others) were used by Voldemort to store pieces of his soul. Until all of the objects are destroyed, the dark wizard is essentially invincible; however, only a few magical items can destroy a Horcrux. Harry and friends have been using the goblin-wrought sword of Godric Gryffindor to annihilate one of the dark objects, but they still have more left to seek out when the new film begins.
How about the Deathly Hallows?
Three items that allow the person who possesses them to control death: the Cloak of Invisibility, the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand. Voldemort seeks the Deathly Hallows to become the master of death in the final film; however, he becomes flummoxed by the Elder Wand despite capturing Ollivander the wandmaker (John Hurt) to reveal its secrets.
And a Pensieve?
A magical device that can display a person's memories for another to see. The object, which once belonged to Dumbledore, plays an important role in the concluding installment of the wizarding saga -- it finally reveals the long-murky motivations of one key character.
Who's that tall fellow in the sweater?
That's Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). After Harry leaves on his mission, Neville, who lost his parents to the evil wizard's forces, becomes the leader of the school's resistance, which also includes Ron's younger sister (and Harry's girlfriend), Ginny (Bonnie Wright), and several professors such as Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and Filius Flitwick (Warwick Davis).
Flitwick? Doesn't Warwick Davis play the goblin Griphook?
Yes, the actor appears in two roles. Griphook helps Harry, Ron and Hermione sneak into the wizarding bank Gringotts, which is basically where the action in "Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" begins. Consider yourself bewitched.