Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) set about destroying evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) once and for all in this penultimate film.

With Voldemort in the ascendant, the friends decide to go it alone in an adventure in which there is no Hogwarts and no time for jokes, japes or games of quidditch.

It means that Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are exposed on screen as never before, but the young actors rise to the challenge with as much pluck as their characters.

As the friends squabble and shelter from the forces of evil and try to track down the horcruxes, the magical objects on which Voldemort’s power depends, the mood is dark. The film is also slow moving, stranding the fugitives in a tent for  long stretches – a problem with splitting JK Rowling’s final book in two.

But there are bursts of excitement, including Harry’s thrilling escape on board the sidecar of Hagrid’s flying motorbike, and moments of great beauty, from the bleak but stunning landscapes in which the trio take refuge to a haunting silhouette animation sequence illustrating the origins of the Deathly Hallows (by far the best bit in the film).

In places, the film is surprisingly affecting, too, with a heart-rending death scene and a touching interlude of mutual consolation in which Harry and Hermione dance awkwardly together to Nick Cave’s O Children.

As a Potter film, this is the most disappointing in the series, but it provides a sturdy springboard for the climax to come.