I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, and while I've always liked the films, they never usually lived up to the books. Then I saw Deathly Hallows Part 1. This is easily the best film of the series so far, and I'm looking forward to seeing the second part in July.
From the very first scene, this film sticks almost word-for-word to the book. There are a few changes; for instance, Hedwig's death is handled differently than in the book and Kreacher's tale is skimmed over a little. But, apart from that, it's very difficult to pick out any major plot changes. The writing is better than it has been on the previous films, particularly towards the end. The Godric's Hollow scenes are both moving and terrifying (possibly a little too scary for under 12s?), and the claustrophobic, desperate mood of the book is conveyed really well while the trio are travelling around the country in search of Voldemort's horcruxes. All three of the main actors seem to have pulled their acting skills out of nowhere in this film. Emma Watson is particularly good in the first scene when she erases her parents' memories, and also at the end when she is tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange at Malfoy Manor. The scene where Harry and Hermione dance to 'O Children' by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds is one of the saddest and most well-acted scenes in the film.
Visually, this film is easily the most beautiful. It's wonderfully shot and directed, and you can see that they seized the opportunities provided by the 'road movie' nature of the story. There are amazing dark scenes, but there are also gorgeous, colourful parts. The chase through the woods is very well filmed. There is also an animated element in this film; The Tale of the Three Brothers, where the trio first hear about the Deathly Hallows, is narrated by Hermione and is very beautiful - animated to look like drawings on parchment.
Alexandre Desplat composed the score for this one, and as usual, his music is beyond awesome.
Definite highlights: Scabior the snatcher, the scene after Malfoy Manor, when Hermione and Harry are talking after getting attacked in Godric's Hollow and the animated Tale of the Three Brothers.
Bad bits: the huge build-up to Dobby's death. They gave him unnecessary amounts of screen time.