First of all, let me say this. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan.
So needless to say, I was at the midnight showing, and have seen it again since that time.
The Harry Potter films have become increasingly more dark since the first one was released, and this is as it should be. By the first film installment of the seventh book, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson), are preparing to set off on their search for the Horcruxes (artifacts that contain a piece of Voldemort's soul which must be destroyed before he can be killed). The filmmakers did a great job at sticking to the book's story. Of course, it lacked the detail that the books do, but it would be impossible to fit everything that you needed to fit in within the confines of a two and a half hour movie. (Although, if they made an 8 hour installment, I would totally go and see it. Twice.)
I had dubbed the first half of the seventh book, "Harry, Ron, and Hermione Go Camping", and the movie really sticks with that theme. They spend an awful lot of time in that tent of theirs, and it makes both them and the audience desperate for some form of action. But I think that's the point. They're at their wits end, and so are you and it makes you feel a connection with them. It's good stuff.
There is only one added scene that was not in the book, and it was when Harry is trying to cheer up Hermione by having her dance with him. The first time I saw it, my friend whispered in my ear, "Oh my God! They're gonna make out!" And I have to admit, I agreed with her. There was sort of an odd sexual tension between the two of them. But then I saw it a second time, and the sexual tension disappeared, and all that was left were two friends trying to make it without the presence of a third.
There were a few times when I questioned the director's decisions. For one, Harry never uses his Invisibility Cloak, which is not only totally idiotic, but also very annoying. I doubt that Harry would be dumb enough to walk through the Ministry of Magic without a disguise, and yet he does so in the film. Not to mention that the Invisibility Cloak's origins are a key part of the entire plot, so you'd think it would get a little more screen time.
And don't even get me started on the use of Polyjuice Potion, or should I say lack of use, during the Godric's Hollow scene. WHATever.
Like the other films, the performances in this part have improved. I was happy to see that the Weasley twins had a bit more to do in this part, even if it was confined to the beginning of the film. Ginny definitely got the shaft, but then again, she's only in the first and last portions of the book. But you know who got the worst of it? Dean Thomas. Once again, the poor bastard gets cut out of pivotal scenes, probably because the filmmakers didn't want to have to explain why he was there. I was disappointed, because I have a soft spot for Mr. Thomas, and the fact that he got overlooked yet again (because in the other films, he has had, at most, 2 lines) is upsetting.
But I digress.
The baddies really take the cake in this movie. They aren't featured often, but when they are, your skin crawls. Helena Bonham Carter makes an excellent Bellatrix because she has that psycho-adoring stare down pat. And Ralph Fiennes made his appearances count. And even though you don't see him often, you feel his presence throughout the film, and it gives every scene a menacing quality.
So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie an 8.5. Not my favorite Potter movie (number 3 holds that title), but it does take the prize of best adaptation so far. It also leaves me hungry for the next film, which should be a bona fide action movie from start to finish. How many days until July??