For film fans, November 19 marks the beginning of the end of the 'Harry Potter' franchise with the release of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.' We've traveled with the films, watching actor Daniel Radcliffe grow from a boy into a young man in the title role -- 'Potter' being one of the few franchises (aside from 'Star Trek') where the aging of the characters has a direct impact on their interactions. It's downright jarring to recall the golden-tinged all-ages adventure of the first film when compared to the moody, dangerous world that we find ourselves in now, with this seventh installment.
I wasn't always on board with director David Yates, whose background in pilates instructional videos made me wonder how he landed the cushy 'Potter' gig. 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' was where the series started to lose some of its charm for me (though, admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of that book either), but I started to reconsider Yates with 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.' He seemed to be finding his own distinct voice in the series, and confirmation of that voice comes in loud and clear with 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.' It's an artistic triumph for Yates, a surprisingly melancholy special effects blockbuster, where the tiniest moments of joy become huge as a relief from 'Deathly Hallows' relentlessly downbeat adventure.
There are quite a few moments of greatness in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1' and you can read about my favorite things after the jump.