Lena and I made one of our rare (once or twice per year) trips to the theater to check out the new Harry Potter movie. I thought it was very good overall, but had slightly mixed feelings about it.
First, I was impressed with how serious and adult the story felt. Downright grim and somber, even. There's not one glimpse of Hogwart's, no comic relief to speak of, and even the glimpses of magical stuff are fairly dark. Hell, even Luna Lovegood is a downer! It's not so much depressing as it is serious and troubling, I guess.
I feel like Helena Bonham Carter steals every scene in every movie she's in. Pure awesome weirdness!
In my opinion there were a couple of flaws.
The middle section of the movie comes to a complete halt. The characters are on the run from some trouble, and they hide out and... just wait. They stare at the ceiling and brood, and talk a little bit, and stare off at the horizon and... wait. What are they waiting for? I guess they're not clear on which direction to go, which is believable if the goal is to emulate real life, but not particularly dramatic. Things kick back into gear at the end, but if I were making this film I'd cut 10-15 minutes out of the middle act and flesh out the first act a bit more, as it's fairly compressed.
Also, the film was a bit muted, emotionally, even at those higher-energy scenes. I never felt a clear sense of what the characters wanted, though I understood from reading the book they were trying to find and destroy horcruxes, and they showed a little bit of this happening in the film. I'm OK with emotionally understated, subdued filmmaking but this seemed a bit too low-key for a big-budget Hollywood flick about Harry Potter.
I've spent more time discussing the film's weaknesses than what I liked about it, but I'm very impressed with the maturity of the filmmaker's approach. I guess I feel they went too far making things dour and troubled, but overall I think it's great that a big franchise movie like this could take such a grown-up approach to storytelling. I'd mostly recommend this to anybody who enjoyed the earlier installments, but it certainly is not a place to start if you've skipped the earlier stories.