Despite its enormous popularity and commercial success, the Harry Potter saga seems destined to be remembered as never quite adding up to the sum of its parts.
In a week when a certain royal engagement has dominated the news, there's been a very different HRH on the lips of Potterheads around the world. School's out for Harry, Ron and Hermione, and, once again, there's a familiar whiff of danger in the air.
Lord Voldemort (who's beginning to resemble the illegitimate lovechild of Pierluigi Collina and a bull terrier that's had a sheet of cling film stretched over its face) has tightened his grip on the Ministry of Magic and is prepping his army of Death Eaters for a bloody siege on the muggleverse. As ever, it's up to our plucky trio to intervene. Cue signature bouts of bickering, soul-searching, and Hermione pulling all manner of obscure spells out of her bottomless bag of tricks, much to the wonderment of her wand-waving BFFs.
With the days of Hogwarts, homework, and puberty behind him, Harry's penultimate quest looks and feels like an entirely adult affair. Yet while a dark, brooding tone is part of the literary DNA of The Deathly Hallows, this faithful cinematic translation is exhaustingly serious, offering only a fraction of the reprieve its predecessors relished so freely in. After 146 minutes, next July suddenly feels too soon for the second (and final) helping to be served.
So what, if anything, does this seventh chapter teach us about the big screen legacy of everyone's favourite bespectacled boy wonder?
Every British actor worth their salt has had a part to play in at least one franchise installment. And, quite fittingly, The Deathly Hallows is veritable wizarding reunion, with Bill Nighy's typically droll opening monologue setting up a dizzying game of spot-the-thesp. Walters, Rickman, Fiennes, Isaacs, Spall, Mullan, Gleeson, Gambon, Coltrane, Ifans, Hurt, Thewlis, Staunton, Bonham Carter... All are present behind a smokescreen of wigs, warts and silly accents.
But what of the series' young stars? Now that the time has come to bid a teary farewell to the characters they have nurtured for nearly half their lives, you'll be left contemplating what the future might hold for Daniel, Emma and Rupert. All three have grown up before our eyes, and all seem to have their feet firmly on the ground.
And yet, despite its enormous popularity and commercial success, the Harry Potter saga seems destined to be remembered as never quite adding up to the sum of its parts. Let's just hope the same won't be muttered about its three leads in years to come.
Like its three young leads, the Harry Potter series has matured into a serious cinematic heavyweight.
A decent farewell, but it's all a bit too serious.
After all that fuss, The Deathly Hallows is unlikely to compound the franchise's legacy.