‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1’ is one of the most anticipated movies of 2010 and the first part of the highly popular series’ finale does not disappoint.

Eerie images set the scene as the movie begins with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) presiding over his council of Death Eaters, while he tortures and kills the Muggle Studies teacher from Hogwarts. This sets the dark and despairing mood for the entire film.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) flee for their lives, and flounder in the woods as they try to figure out the quest to destroy the Horcruxes, which are the only things that stand in the way of being able to kill Lord Voldemort. Without the guidance of Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to guide the trio, they find themselves battling the Death Eaters along with their own worries and insecurities. In fact, Ron disappears, which pushes Harry and Hermione into more doubt and fear leading them to make some very poor decisions.

The movie ends at a bit of a cliff hanger with Harry suffering the loss of a dear friend after fleeing for his life, and Lord Voldemort obtaining an object that he hopes will make him unstoppable. The ending brings back memories of the bleak end of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in the Star Wars saga.

While this installment is very faithful to the book, it’s more cerebral than previous Harry Potter films adaptations. It is also perhaps the most faithful movie recreation of all the Harry Potter books, with the possible exception of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’. For fans who have followed the movies but not read the books, this may make ‘Part 1’ a bit boring and hard to watch.

The highlight of the entire movie was the animated telling of “The Three Brothers” story near the end of the movie. This animated sequence was beautifully created and it highlighted story elements that will be very important in Part 2.

For fans of the books, this movie is a must see in the theater. For fans of the Harry Potter movies, this movie may be better watched as a whole with Part 2 for a more satisfying conclusion.

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1’ opens in theaters on November 19, 2010. Part 2 will open in theaters on July 15, 2011.