The film might have ended at its action-packed and ultimately moving climax, but screenwriter Steve Kloves goes one step farther. He finds the perfect cliffhanger, one that emphasizes just how dangerous young Mr. Potter's situation really is and definitely leaves the audience anxious for the next chapter.
It's grim, funny in one sequence about shapeshifters, vivid in moments of violent action, nearly devoid of plot twists and marked by long patches where Harry, Ron and Hermione camp in the woods or by the sea or near a frozen lake and ponder What It All Means.
The first and third acts are over-busy; the middle one moves like an arthritic house-elf. Still, a decent smattering of magic moments and tension's pumped up sky-high. Bring on Part 2.