Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
I'm not going to attempt to assign a numerical rating to this film as that would be reductive. The reason being is that while it is a two and a half hour film, it's not a complete film. It's one half of a five hour film. That being said, I still have a lot of things to say about it, mostly ecstatic things. It goes without saying that I absolutely loved the film as it were, but again, I'm having a hard time really sorting out exactly where I would place it within the series, since, again, it's one half of a whole. But I will try to simply talk about what worked and what didn't.
For starters, this is a notably dark film. Parents and casual movie-goers have been complaining endlessly about how the series has gotten progressively darker, more violent, and less "magical". Every time I hear said complaints I just shake my head and let them whine in a corner. Of course it's getting darker. The series is following the pattern of the books, which got darker and less and less about magical wonder and more about characters, story, and matters of life and death. That last bit about life and death is certainly true in this film. From the beginning, in one of the most amazingly well done and well acted scenes in the films, we understand that Voldemort is not playing any games. He's out for blood, and nothing is getting in his way. He relishes every kill, every bit of violence. And it's not going to end any time soon.
Luckily, the film maintains a balance between it's nearly overbearing sense of impending doom and a few light hearted moments with some hilarious humor thrown in. The ministry sequence in particular, had me and the rest of my audience howling with laughter. The sweet character moments are also there, and boy do they ever work. In fact, that's what works best about this film, character development. There's so much I could say about it that I might burst, but I will save some of that for future conversations. On the technical side of things, the film's productions values, as is common for the series, are top notch, especially for score, cinematography, art direction, and of course, visual effects.
Really, the film really works as a great adaptation of Rowling's book, my only complaint is that it's not finished yet. For now, it's the Empire Strikes Back of the films. I can't wait until next July when this epic saga finally comes to a close. As always, have at it in the comments section!