I had to think about the rating for this one for a bit. Because this movie almost can't be reviewed by itself. On its own, it's almost like half a movie. Ideally you should watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 right before you see this new movie. This way, it's like one big movie with an intermission.
The new movie begins right where the previous installment left off with a quick recap of Voldemort breaking in to Dumbledore's tomb. We get a quick view of what life in Hogwarts is like with the new headmaster, and then the action picks up at Shell Cottage. Harry has an idea of where to find another horcrux, and it involves the assistance of the goblin Griphook.
Hopefully you remember what a horcrux is - an object where one has hidden a piece of his soul. Voldemort has made 6 horcruxes and Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to find and destroy them before they can defeat Voldemort.
For Harry Potter fans, this is a very satisfying conclusion to a movie series which began a decade ago. I think non fans would also enjoy the movie, but you definitely have to have seen the previous installments to know what is going on. We have had 7 movies of setup and character development. This movie is the payoff. While the previous movie had an awful lot of the 3 characters stuck in that tent not knowing what to do, this movie is wall to wall action. The majority of the movie takes place in and around the battle of Hogwarts.
Compared to previous Harry Potter movies, this one is probably the most faithful to the book. All the important things are there, and there are some minor changes to make things more cinematic. I liked the way they changed the timing of Neville's big moment, because it helps make the climax that much bigger. I was a little disappointed with the "Not my daughter, you bitch!" scene. That is one I was really looking forward to, and I thought it wasn't set up well. It came out of nowhere, and if you blinked you might miss it.
One of the best sequences in the movie is Snape's back story. Snape has always been my favorite character, and he is played so well by Alan Rickman. In this movie, we get to learn more than we ever have about Snape, and it's really exciting to see Rickman get to play a different range of emotions.
There has never been a movie series like Harry Potter. Eight movies, all with the same major case (except Dumbledore due to the passing of Richard Harris). It's incredible how well the roles were cast. We have been able to watch these characters age before our eyes, and the actors have grown into the roles wonderfully. I mentioned Neville's big moment before. He hasn't had as much to do in the last couple of movies, and it's great to see him finally featured as much as he is here.
Oh, and the epilogue works wonderfully. I was a little nervous about how they would pull it off and whether it would look fake, but I thought it worked just fine. And all was well.