Voldemort’s band of death eaters listen in fear as he spills the secret- he can be the only one to use the killing curse against ‘The Chosen One,’ aka Harry Potter.[/media-credit]

I first landed in the wizarding world when I was 10.

My mom, my sister and I were visiting our grandparents in Vancouver and my grandma had the first Harry Potter book waiting for me. I was skeptical about a book full of barely-pronounceable Latin spells and a main character with the name Hermione. Nevertheless, I fell in love and haven’t looked back since.

It’s been said before, and it’s admittedly clich?, but with the record-breaking release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” it really does feel like the end of an epic era, and the end of a decade-long love affair. Sure, the last book was published 3 years ago, but for Potterites, converted sorcerers of the Muggle world, these movies are our epilogue, the last bit of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy we can grasp onto before it slips through our fingers like an invisibility cloak.

It’s pretty evident from the trailers, but in case you couldn’t tell, “DH1” is noticeably somber. The minute Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy, “Wild Target”) utters, “These are dark times, there is no denying,” the film doesn’t betray his confession.

The film begins much the same way all HP films do, at the Dursley residence. But unlike previous installments, we barely see Aunt Petunia or Uncle Vernon because Harry, (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) have to set out on their outlaw-like journey to finding the Horcruxes, or the seven pieces of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes, “Cemetery Junction”) soul that must be destroyed to ultimately defeat the Dark Lord. This leaves No. 4 Privet Drive as only a faint, distant memory of the blissful naivet? that used to be.

Going rogue, the three best friends that anyone could have set out on their tireless voyage solo, relocating constantly to throw off the trail of the Death Eaters. Their aimless wanderings and the sense of hopelessness are palpable, and match the feelings Rowling created in the series. It’s tedious, and maybe it makes the film lag a little, but searching for the remaining parts of someone’s soul and having no idea where to look would be, well, tedious.

Without Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, “The King’s Speech) as his mystical guide and wise patriarchal figure, it seems Potter and his pals are at a crossroads of frustration. With no real dialogue available between Dumbledore and Harry, the pals are left to blindly discover the fragments of the Dark Lord’s soul. Having destroyed two horcruxes in their Hogwarts adventures, five still remain. It’s when this tension builds between the three wizard-teers, when they start getting irked with the massive responsibility of saving the wizarding world, that their acting ability really shines.

Their theatrical skills are no longer limited to the recurring, exasperated stares Watson and Grint seemed to master in the six previous episodes. They’ve transformed into convincing and emotional thespians. If we couldn’t sense it in the book, we sure as hell feel their frustration, fright and subtle humor on the silver screen. This ability to explore deeper emotions and fully delve into the intricacies of the plot aids the cohesiveness of the film.

Devoted HP fanatics can rest easy- with the movie being broken into two parts, we can go on the last HP journey with plenty of film roll to get into the nitty gritty of the “Deathly Hallows.” Perhaps it’s because Rowling played a part in producing “DH1” that made the characterization and plot portrayal so much more satisfying, after all, this is her literary baby fully grown.

But with 221 pages of plot left to cover, how will the end, the final frontier, play out? And with the much-debated epilogue to tackle, viewers are kept wondering, how will director David Yates (“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”) tie it all together?

What will the epic battle between he-who-shall-remain-nameless and Harry look like? For those true devotees who have read the book, we all know how it ends, but seeing it conclude, with the credits rolling for the last time and that all-too-familiar orchestral HP theme, it will, needless to say, be a melancholy departure from our lives.

I’m obviously no longer 10, but I’m still stuck in the wizarding world, not willing to leave anytime soon.

4.5 out of 5