After 10 years, the Harry Potter film franchise is nearing its end. For some it marks, like Toy Story, the end of our childhood, as those born in the early 90’s are the ones who can truly claim to own the Harry Potter franchise. But we’re not quite there yet. Those kind people at Warner Brothers thought that we deserved to have the last book split into two movies so we could have more of our favourite wizards. You know, it’s either that, or they wanted to squeeze as much money as they can from the cash cow franchise. Surely the movie industry puts audience pleasure and satisfaction before their money grabbing needs? Yeah, that’s what I thought. But either way, we have here the first of a two-part double in the final episode for Harry Potter and co. And it certainly does more than enough to get you excited for Part Two, which hits our screens in July.

All is not looking good for the wizarding world; Dumbledore’s dead and Voldermort and his army of Death Eaters are growing stronger by the day. Harry has been left with the task of finding several Horcrux’s, random objects which hold the key to destroying Voldermort once and for all. This means Harry, Ron and Hermione have to leave the comfort of Hogwarts and go on a treacherous journey to find these Horcrux’s before it’s too late. The stakes really are higher this time (when Harry grows stubble, you know this shit’s just got real), and there is an actually genuine sense of threat. I didn’t really enjoy the last two installments, Order of the Phoenix and The Half Blood Prince as they both felt like two and half hours of pointlessness, with most of the action and events of actual importance occurring in the last half hour. And even though this is a two parter, with the bigger spectacle being saved for the finale, there is a much clearer sense of plot and purpose in this movie.

The best move that this installment takes is moving away from the confines of Hogwarts. It allows for a much grander scale and some quite beautiful shots of various British landscapes. The action seems a lot more involving this time around. There are moments where they just seem to be pottering (no pun intended) around in random locations which don’t really do anything to move the plot on, and this is where the film slacks a bit in pacing. There is a lot of strong magic action at the start and nearer the end, with a few flushes in the middle, but when the main trio are in the forest and other various locations, not a lot seems to happen.

However, these slower moments are kept interesting but some much-needed conflict amongst Harry, Ron and Hermione. Granted, this conflict is brought about via a Lord of the Rings style object which changes the moods of certain characters, but it allows Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson to finally get their teeth into their roles. Over the years, their acting has been fairly awkward, but here they have never been better. This movie is their movie. The actors are very aware that they’re not going to be doing this for much longer, so they are really giving their all. Part Two will more than likely see Alan Rickman’s excellent Snape and other characters have more of a central role, but this part allows for these three young actors to finally shine and carry the movie on their own. They’ve taken their time, but it is really satisfying to see them act so strongly in roles which they will forever be synonymous with. No matter how much they try to move away from them.

Director David Yates has also seemed to have found a bit more of a stride with this installment, having also directed the last two installments, which I’ve already expressed my disappointment in. The style of the movie is refreshingly different here. The action is very much in the style of a chase movie, emphasising how there is much more of a threat this time around. The camera is up close and personal and very frantic in its movements, supported by quick fire editing (the Snatcher chase scene in the forest is a perfect highlight of this). The action is much slicker and exciting as well, with Yates seemingly being a lot more ambitious with this installment. Though it is very much a fantasy movie, the fights and battles are as gritty as they can be. The effects are pretty top-notch, it’s more the CGI characters which look a bit weak, but it’s nice to see Dobby back, for a bit anyway.

Of course, there is no definite conclusion to this movie, and it certainly leaves it on a cliffhanger. The only problem I had with that was that I wasn’t too sure what position Harry and Co. were left in, as in what the next step was going to be. It’s not that I didn’t know what they had left to do, it’s just that they seem to have a great deal left to do. They seem to have a lot left to cram into Part Two I have to say. And the main problem with this film, and indeed all of the Harry Potter movies, is that they are a bit long. Even with this one being split into two, this film is still a good two and half hours long. For the most part it manages to keep you occupied. But due to it sticking so closely to the book, it suffers from the books pacing problems and now seems to have left itself with a bit too much to do in Part Two. I hope they don’t rush too much with it, as they need a good satisfying conclusion to please the fans. Even if it does end up being three and a half hours long. I hope not though, my bum became numb enough during the course of this one. But I’m certainly excited for Part Two, thanks to how good this part is and the thought of what we have left in store for our final adventure with the Boy who lived.

4/5- Even though it’s just the filler before the big finale, this movie is one of the strongest of the franchise, with some great action, genuine tension and the best performances yet from its three young leads. Bring on Part Two!