Few movie franchises can say that not only have they been faithful to the books and their readers but also made a butt load of money by doing so. The first two films were serviceable enough with the cast of young actors showing a bright future even if Emma Watson tended to act with her eyebrows. Then came Prisoner of Azkaban and everything changed. Replacing point and shoot director Chris Columbus with auteur Alfonzo Curan was a masterful step and sent the films in a whole new direction. With only the fifth film Order of the Phoenix a disappointment, this series is getting better and better. Mike Newell has proven to be an imaginative director whose first Harry Potter film(Order of the Phoenix again) was more the fault of a terrible screen writer (still have no idea why they hired this hack who had never written anything good in his very short career). But with the return of Steve Kloves, the final book is given a tremendous send off, one that will satisfy fans and newbies alike.
Harry, Ron and Hermonie join forces to find the Horocruxes that contain the essences of Voldemnort. Only by destroying the items will he die. Unfortunately, they have no idea where the items are or how to destroy them. And everyone is looking for them. Death is prevalent throughout the film with both the good guys and evil doers losing key people we have grown to love and loathe for the past decade. And this is only part one.
Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have all grown tremendously as actors with all three giving the best performances of their career. One added scene of Hermonie and Harry dancing is one that gives the movie emotional heft but also shows one central problem (SPOILER ALERT). In the beginning of the film, Harry and Ginny kiss. There is zero chemistry between the two. None. However when Harry and Hermonie share any screen time together there is an undeniable attraction to each other which is odd because they are never more than friends in the book. The casting of Ginny I never really liked and now it seems apparent why. Minor complaint but hey, it's something I noticed.
The references to the growing fascism Harry and the others witness have real revelence today. It's not so far fetched to think that people like Delores Umbridge are real (cough cough Sarah Palin cough) and could implement the same kind of stringent nonsense real in the real world, like the TSA.
This is a must see movie for any fantasy fan, but only if you've seen the other movies. Otherwise, you won't have a clue what's going on. For the rest of us, July can't come soon enough.
4 and 1/2 stars out of 5