The movie alternates between being a frenetic, nail-biting thriller and a slow-moving adolescent relationship drama set against a beautifully shot, expansive backdrop. Director David Yates, back for his third Potter film, speeds through the action sequences early in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 -- like the fantastic Seven Potters scene, in which six of Harry's friends masquerade as him so that they can help move him to safety. But the second act, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are camping, hiding, and waiting for inspiration can lag, though there's a sweet moment between Harry and Hermione that needs no words. The series' most fervent fans may feel disappointed that some scenes and characters were barely in the movie; it would have been great to see more of Remus (David Thewlis), the Weasleys (especially the twins and Ginny), Neville (Matthew Lewis, who only gets one line), and more. And an entire review could be dedicated to all of the important details in the novel that didn't make the cut.
Despite this, there are fabulous supporting performances by Bill Nighy as the Minister of Magic; Rhys Ifans as Quibbler editor Xenophilous Lovegood; Toby Jones as selfless, noble Dobby; and Evanna Lynch, who's always been pitch-perfect as delightfully quirky Luna Lovegood. There are some great moments of physical comedy, too. As always, though, the heart of the movie comes down to Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson, all of whom give touching, nuanced portrayals as they deal with complicated emotions and terrifying circumstances. Grint in particular is finally able to show some depth as he struggles to balance his love for Hermione, his jealousy of Harry, and his general sense of insecurity. These aren't three kids any more: They're a 17-year-old hero and his best friends, willing to give up everything to save the wizarding world. It's a massive undertaking to depict, and Part 2 provides an appropriately awesome ending.