As to the movie, I agree with everyone else that it's undoubtedly the best Harry Potter movie ever!!! It's even currently on IMDb's Top 250, and I don't disagree. I wasn't surprised that it was touching, but I was surprised at how funny it was (although I'm certain that some of the stuff I was laughing at wasn't intended to be funny).
In fact, that brings me back to the main criticism that I have about most of the previous movies: often (especially early on in the series) neither the humor nor the action has felt entirely organic to the stories. Even in DH1, which was mostly brilliant, during the Death Eaters' chase they had Hagrid briefly drive the motorcycle on the highway amongst the Muggles' cars, seemingly for no reason other than that it looks cool, and never mind the fact that it breaks the Statute of Secrecy and puts all those Muggles in danger. But in this one I felt that the humor and the action all fit in seamlessly the way it does in the books. Moreover, and I'm very excited to be able to say this about a Harry Potter movie for the very first time, there was never a moment when anyone seemed to be behaving out of character to me. Well done! And it only took you eight movies to figure it out! Shame you can't make more movies now that you finally know how all the characters are supposed to behave!
Speaking of the books, I mentioned earlier noticing that J.K. Rowling was given producer's credit on the two Deathly Hallows movies. I can't help wondering if that was at the other producers' invitation or if she saw the mess that was HBP and said, "That's it; I'm not going to stand aside and let you jackasses ruin my last book!"
I really only have one, relatively minor gripe about the whole movie: I wish that Dumbledore had explained the reason why Harry was only MOSTLY dead after giving himself up to Voldemort, especially in light of the fact that Rowling has always been very blatantly insistent in the books that no magic can truly bring the dead back to life. In fact, it annoyed/amused me (more amused me) that Harry didn't bother asking Dumbledore to explain that but instead asked about Snape's and Lily's Patronuses. Really, Harry? THAT'S your most pressing concern at this critical juncture? All right...
But that's really the only genuine disappointment that I had. Here are the rest of my giddy impressions which, though giddy, I notice are also tending toward the MS3K-esque, i.e. affectionately snarky.
--Shell Cottage was gorgeous. I totally want to live there.
--I was happy that Harry seemed less of a conniving jackass while making deals with Griphook (although that made Griphook seem like more of a schmuck), except that I also thought his amenability to give up the sword was kind of laughable: "Hand over the one thing that we know for sure can destroy Horcruxes? Sure, why not?"
--Ollivander explaining the Deathly Hallows
--I was really looking forward to the Gringotts scene, especially Helena Bonham Carter playing Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix, which was utterly brilliant. I laughed really hard when she was having trouble walking in heels. I'm glad that I recently rewatched CoS, though, because I'd forgotten that they'd made a point of establishing that, in the world of the movie, Polyjuice Potion doesn't change a person's voice (which is rather inconvenient, if you ask me, but I think it works for the movies because it helps the audience to stay connected to who the character really is).
--In the vault, it seemed to me that Harry purposefully threw himself onto the treasure so that it would expand and carry him up to the cup, which kind of made me laugh because I just pictured Ron and Hermione at the bottom saying, "Oh, don't mind us, Harry; you go get your Horcrux, we'll just stay down here and be crushed by mountains of fake treasure."
--Since they'd cut out all the scenes telling Harry what the Horcurxes were and where they might be from the previous movies, I thought the idea of having them speak Parseltongue at Harry was a pretty clever way to make up for that, but it also kind of made me laugh: "Here we are, come and destroy us!"
--The dragon looked almost exactly the way I had imagined it! Also, just as the house-elves looked more lifelike and believable in DH1, I thought the dragon looked a lot more believable than did the dragon in GoF, even though that dragon was very well done.
--Having Voldemort kill Griphook (and some of the other goblins, if I'm not mistaken) made me feel a little bit better about the question of sword ownership that I felt wasn't satisfactorily resolved in the book, but it also made me think, "Man, this movie just hates goblins, doesn't it?"
--On the subject of things from the book being cut out of the movies, I love the OotP movie very very much, but I do think it's too bad that they had to cut the part about the mirror out of it. When Aberforth told them about getting the mirror from Mundungus Fletcher, it was like, "Oh, that bloke that we just met last movie?" and they never did explain how Harry got a shard of it. It would bother me if I hadn't read the books but at this point, as
--I didn't mind the extremely condensed version of Dumbledore's backstory as presented in the movie, but it did make Aberforth seem like more of a jerk. Not a criticism, just an observation.
--I recently reread the book and, even knowing where Snape's allegiances lie, I still get unmixed pleasure from the part where McGonagall duels with Snape. I'm sorry, but nothing can make that less awesome. And I liked it in the movie too.
--But on the less-awesome side, as I understood it, McGonagall basically said, "Everyone--even the first years--can stay and fight except the Slytherins, who have to stay in the dungeons because ONE of them threatened Harry." I said before that nobody in this movie seemed out of character, but I take that back; that moment was quite a bit out of character for McGonagall. Anyway, this movie apparently hates Slytherins too. Slytherins and goblins.
--I suppose this is as good a time as ever to say well done, Make-Up Department, for so successfully obscuring the fact that Griphook and Flitwick were played by the same person!
--I'd seen footage beforehand of Ron and Hermione in the Chamber of Secrets, and I was excited to see that scene, although I didn't know that that would be the scene of their first kiss and I have to admit that it struck me rather more as funny than touching. The impetus for this long-awaited expression of their suppressed, though deeply felt, love and devotion is...plumbing malfunctions? I can just picture them, at some future time after they got married and set up housekeeping: "Honey, our pipes have frozen, our basement is flooded and I NEED YOU NOW!"
--Hey, everybody: Luna's talking sense for once! She just got even more awesome! Yay!
--I was glad that Helena Ravenclaw didn't just tell Harry that the diadem was in the Room of Requirement, that he had to figure it out for himself. I did feel that that scene dragged perhaps just a tiny bit, and I was half-expecting an exchange like this:
HARRY: Where did you hide the diadem?
HARRY: Dammit, I have to go all the way to ALBANIA?
Although, if they DID have to go to Albania, it might have taken another eight movies, and if they were all as good as this one I wouldn't have minded at all.
--I found it a little strange that Harry asked Draco why Draco didn't give Harry over to Bellatrix. I can't imagine why that would matter to anyone other than the Draco fangirls, and I would certainly think that Harry had more pressing concerns at that moment.
--Fiendfyre looked exactly the way I imagined it and didn't need the third dimension for it to be awesome. In fact, everything in the movie was sufficiently awesome without the third dimension.
--Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of blowing shit up in movies, but the plan to blow up the bridge filled me with surprisingly incongrous glee: "Hooray! Finally, the bridge that suddenly appeared during PoA and existed for no reason other than that it was aesthetically pleasing actually serves a story purpose! As does Seamus' borderline pyromania! Rock on!"
--NEVILLE: I have to go tell Luna I love her!
ME: Wait, what? But what about Hannah Ab--you know what? Never mind.
--HARRY: I know where Voldemort is!
ME: He's somewhere on the Hogwarts grounds that I've never been because it didn't exist before this movie!
--On the whole, I was satisfied with Snape's death scene, but for some reason I was looking forward to seeing his memories leaking out of him from every cranial orifice, so I was a little disappointed that it was just, like, one tear. Also, was it strictly necessary for him to say, "You have your mother's eyes"? WE KNOW HE HAS HIS MOTHER'S EYES ALREADY!
--I found the scene of Snape's memories to be unexpectedly moving. It has never affected me like that in the book, and I think it was due almost entirely to Alan Rickman's heartfelt performance. Kudos, sir!
--With that said, however, the scene of him weeping while cradling Lily's lifeless body (while poor baby Harry wails away in the background) was a little too macabre for my tastes.
--Also, the little girl who plays young Lily has BROWN EYES! Whaaaa??? That's a general pet peeve of mine in movies, but when the fact that she and Harry have exactly the same color eyes has been so significant to the story that it is mentioned innumerable times in both the books and the movies, you'd think that they would have made an effort to find a little girl with similarly bluish eyes to play the young Lily, wouldn't you? Did they just not notice, or did they just hope that WE wouldn't notice? If the latter, it makes it pretty stupid to have dying Snape reiterate YET AGAIN that Harry has his mother's eyes so that it would be on our minds.
--Of course, I probably don't have to say yet again that I have a love/hate relationship with Movie!Lupin, but I liked what they did with him here. Although it was ever so slightly amusing when, during the Resurrection Stone scene, Harry made the mention about his son: "you know, the son that was never mentioned until now except for the vaguest possible reference at the beginning of the previous movie."
--With that said...in the book or in the movie, the Resurrection Stone scene makes me cry. Always.
--This might be an opportune moment to mention how awesome the visual effects on Voldemort have been throughout the film series. It is mind-boggling to me how they can make someone look like he doesn't have a nose when, in reality, he does.
--The metaphysical King's Cross was brighter than I had imagined it, but otherwise very similar, and Voldemort's soul fragment was even more disgusting than I had imagined it.
--Once again, my one complaint with the movie is that they didn't explain how Voldemort's taking Harry's blood back in GoF kept Harry alive. No, apparently Harry's most pressing concern was Doe, a deer, a spectral deer...? Were the filmmakers concerned that we wouldn't catch onto the fact that Snape was in love with Lily? Did they not trust that we would figure it out when he was sobbing and cradling her dead body like something out of Wuthering Heights?
--I thought the backlighting on Dumbledore during the King's Cross scene made him look like a Christus from some medieval icon. And I thought that was entirely appropriate.
--During that stand-off between Hogwarts and the Death Eaters, I thought it was kind of funny that Voldemort hugged Draco. Really? Suddenly he's the touchy-feely Dark Lord? It didn't really bother me because I sensed that they were trying to portray it with an undercurrent of irony, but on the other hand it was like, "Are you TRYING to create fodder for slash fic?"
--I was expecting fiery defiance from Neville, but weary-yet-resolute defiance worked well too. I was expecting that he would pretend to go over to the other side so that he could get close enough to Nagini to kill her, but...that didn't happen. Which was fine.
--I had heard/seen from the trailers that they were going to draw out the fight between Harry and Voldemort, and I didn't think I liked that idea at all, but they did it in a way that made story sense by having Harry engage Voldemort (or vice versa? I don't remember anymore) before the snake had been killed. Which was fine with me.
--ME: Harry, you're going to throw the Elder Wand away without fixing your phoenix-feather wand? You just want to keep using Draco's old wand? Oh, apparently you do! Allrighty then...
--Today I realized for the first time that Albus Severus Potter's initials spell "ASP". Asp? Like a snake? That's a bit unfortunate, perhaps.
--The kid who played little Albus was SOOOOOOOO ADORABLE! AND they got his eye color right! Yay!
--I was really looking forward to the epilogue, and I liked it a lot. It made me cry a little bit, which it doesn't in the book. For the most part, I thought that the aging effects were well done, but it was a little distracting right at the beginning.
--In the movie, the epilogue seems to work on multiple levels for me because all of these actors were cast as children and, in a way, it's almost like they're passing the torch to the next generation of child actors. If that's not a pretentiously sentimental way of looking at it.
Okay, I have literally sat here for over four hours writing all this out. I haven't even had lunch yet. I've been completely absorbed in it. That, my friends, is magic.