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Here's What The Critics Are Saying About Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts

It has been two decades since "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" arrived in theaters and introduced movie audiences to the Wizarding World. The franchise only grew more popular with each new movie, and the main films collectively raked in around $7.7 billion worldwide (per The Numbers) — and that's without including the ongoing "Fantastic Beasts" series.

"Harry Potter" itself has been a huge part of many people's lives around the world. Fans of the movie franchise that brought Harry and his friends to the big screen all are getting a treat on New Year's Day, as the reunion special "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts" is set to arrive on HBO Max. It sees the core cast reunite to look back on their time as part of the franchise and reminisce about working together. 

The first reviews for "Return to Hogwarts" have arrived online, and it looks like it's going to be an emotional watch.

Critics think Return to Hogwarts has the right mix of sentimentality and insight

The first reviews have high praise for "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts," suggesting that it feels more like a conversation between friends than a marketed reunion. As Mama's Geeky writer Tessa Smith says, "It focuses a lot on what Harry Potter means not just to the fans, but to the cast and crew who spent ten years of their lives creating these wonderful films." Meanwhile, The Times' Carol Midgley wrote, "If you haven't had enough sugar this Christmas an overdose on this Harry Potter reunion extravaganza should rectify that." So, clearly, it's a sweet watch to kickstart 2022.

But Variety's Caroline Famke thinks it balances the nostalgia with plenty of insightful moments, writing, "So, yes, 'Return to Hogwarts' is mostly aiming to envelop fans in a warm and fuzzy blanket of nostalgia. Nonetheless, there are a few revealing moments in which people admit just how overwhelming the entire phenomenon truly was ..." And fans might get a little tearful says Metro's Sabrina Barr, who added, "Harry Potter fans, you'd better Accio some tissues, because the reunion special is going to have you in buckets of tears, with eye-opening revelations and a whole lot of heart."

According to CNN's Brian Lowry, the need for tissue doesn't feel like a ruse. He wrote, "Tears flow before it's over, but the unavoidable sentimentality of it all feels mostly earned ..."

The hugely positive reviews for "Return to Hogwarts" means the special currently has a 100% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, although that could change after the reunion arrives on HBO Max.