This is it, "Harry Potter" fans, the moment you've (OK, we've) been waiting for all year long: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" has officially arrived. The film marks the bittersweet beginning of the end for Potterheads who've spent the past decade devouring J.K. Rowling's books and the critically acclaimed films based upon them, as beloved heroes Harry, Ron and Hermione leave the comfy confines of Hogwarts behind and strike out on a quest to find and destroy the various pieces of Voldemort's vile soul. And it's all leading up to that epic Harry-Voldie showdown -- and a final farewell to the franchise -- in next July's "Deathly Hallows: Part 2."
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First there's "Part 1" to be watched. And this weekend, millions of moviegoers -- many of them clad in Hogwarts school uniforms, carrying brooms and sporting makeshift lightning bolt scars on their forehead -- will line up to do just that... and they'll do it no matter what the critics say. Movie reviews could compare it to one of Bertie Bott's vomit-flavored jelly beans, and still fans would eat it up. Luckily, the vast majority of critics think this particular brew tastes a whole lot better than Polyjuice potion (which we all know tastes like goblin's piss). Check out what they're saying in the review round-up below.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: "I felt a swell of love and awe wash over me from the very first wickedly creepy scene until the profoundly moving last one. Under the direction of David Yates -- in Goldilocks terms, he's Just Right, having gently guided the series to more consistent excellence in pace and tone with the last two installments -- 'Part 1' is the most cinematically rewarding chapter yet."
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "David Yates' 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' is a handsome and sometimes harrowing film, and will be completely unintelligible for anyone coming to the series for the first time. At 146 minutes, it confronts us with a roll call of the many, many characters in the series, and requires a nearly encyclopedic recall of the epic’s previous chapters. Though I've seen all the films, there were times when I had no idea what they were talking about. Indeed, there are times when Hermione has to explain to Harry."
The Washington Post: "It's half of a really good movie, full of the enchantment, emotion and incident for which the Potter series has become so fanatically cherished."
USA Today: "Menacing and meditative, 'Hallows' is arguably the best installment of the planned eight-film franchise, though audiences who haven't kept up with previous chapters will be hopelessly lost... Gone are the wide, lingering shots of the magic school Hogwarts and airborne Quidditch matches. In their place, Yates uses close-ups of his young stars, who have over the past decade learned to act through expression alone."
Slate: "'Harry Potter 7A'... was one of my favorite Harry Potter movies so far, precisely because it takes a break from the magic-and-monster-crammed busyness of its predecessors."
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "Like a virgin's padded bra, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1' is all tease, zero payoff... A movie that plays like a 146-minute trailer for the actual final chapter -- 'Part II' opens next July in 3-D! -- is a definite cheat."
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: "This grim beginning-of-the-end odyssey has a very different feel from any of its predecessors -- a development slightly more disconcerting than it is welcome."
Justin Chang, Variety: "Lumbering and gripping by turns, and suffused with a profound sense of solitude and loss."
The Village Voice: "The fights, both airborne and grounded, are exciting and unusually coherent, and the special effects are top-notch as usual."
Joe Morganstern, The Wall Street Journal: "Daniel Radcliffe, as Harry, spends a great deal of time looking pensive, or worried. At one point he says, with exasperation, "This is completely mental!" Yes, and you wish it were emotional."
Have you seen "Deathly Hallows: Part 1" yet? If so, which critics do you agree with? If you haven't seen it, did these reviews help you make up your mind? Tell us in the comments!