I am reviewing this film after seeing it at the cinema on Friday and not after seeing the DVD (which is obviously not out yet!). I think that if you saw the film without reading the book you would probably enjoy it more, although I think it would have been important to have seen the five previous films to understand the plot.
First to the negatives points, which were few. I hate to critisize anything Potteresque but I do think that if you are going to adapt such a great book for the screen, you should only omit scenes/characters that are not important to the plot. Also, any changes to the plot should be for the better. Personally, I did not much like the scene with Harry and the girl in the station cafe. It meant omitting the wonderful scene at the Dursleys where Dumbledore appears and tells them exactly what he thinks of them. I wanted to see the goblet of mead tapping Uncle Vernon on the head while he tries unsuccesfully to ignore it! I also thought it strange that, immediately after the Burrow burns down, the next scene show Ron smooching and laughing with Lavender Brown as if nothing had happened. I know time was restricted but I felt there should have been more 'memories' of Voldemort. The one where we met his grandfather and his bedraggled and put-upon mother should have been included and especially the one where the Dark Lord approaches Dumbledore for the Post of DADA professor. His appearance has alredy altered, leading Dumbledore to suspect that his dabbling in the Dark Arts has already gone further than any wizard before him.
However, now to what WAS included in the film. I thought the acting by all the principal characters was excellent, especially the now very suspicious and troubled Harry. The scenes with Ginny which showed their growing awareness and understanding of each other were very subtle and touching. Rupert Grint gave an excellent comic performance of the love-sick Ron Weasly and Emma Watson as Hermione, usually so composed and sure of herself was fabulous as the jealous 'gooseberry'. Newcommer Jim Broadbent made a wonderful Slughorn, showing us his conflicted emotions. On the one hand, he wants to live in peace and comfort but struggles with the guilt of once giving out too much information. He wants to make amends but believes he is a coward. I must also give a mention to Hero Tiffin Fiennes whose young Tom Riddle was chilling. How a boy, so sweet and appealing could convey so much menace was quite incredible.
I loved the opening slow-motion sequence of the film, the immediate aftermath of the battle at the Ministry of Magic, where Dumbledore puts an arm around Harry and tries to shield him from the flashbulbs of the press and the publicity as this sets the tone for the film. Having ignored Harry in year Five for fear that Voldemort was controlling him, Dumbledore knows Harry has earned his right to be more involved. And involved he is. The scene in the Cave is stunning and was truly frightening. Harry shows strength of character and Dumbledore again shows why he is thought to be such a great wizard and the only one Voldemort truely fears.
Overall, despite some minor reservations, I can thoroughly recommend this film. It kept my family enthralled for the 2 hours+ that it ran and it also sets the scene perfectly for the penultimate and last films in the saga. I can hardly wait!!!