'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', the seventh and final adventure in the Harry Potter film series, is told in two full-length parts. After almost a decade, the young wizard-confronting-evil series shows no sign of flagging with the public. CAHIR O’DOHERTY gets a preview of the first part, and tells you what to expect.

Never mind the bad reviews coming from some British sources -- the truth is that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is easily the best of the bunch in the long running film series.

Focusing more on the main characters rather than the events that surround them, it’s the best possible film that the best-selling books have inspired to date.

The film’s opening scenes signal that big changes are coming.  Harry’s about to turn 17 and we’re in for the darkest chapter of the Harry Potter series ever committed to film.

Sure enough the next sequence involves Voldemort, the snake-like villain, and his band of heartless cronies who torture a Hogwarts teacher in a disturbing scene that sets the tone for the whole film.

But these are not comedy villains, and the violence is real and at times jump out of your seat shocking.

The message is simple -- the evil that is descending on this wizarding world looks almost certain to engulf it forever.

In the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter is finally growing up, and so are the themes of the film.
The escape from the Dursley household on Privet Drive, where Harry spent his childhood with his Aunt Petunia (played by Ireland’s Fiona Shaw) and Uncle Vernon, is shot from the first frame like an action movie, a stylistic departure from all previous Potter films that turns out to be one of the highlights of the new flick.

Death Eaters, Harry’s mortal enemies, suddenly surround his band of supporters and the film’s body count spikes. It’s one of the most brilliantly filmed sequences in the new film and (for fans of the books) also one of the most tragic.

Ireland’s Brendan Gleeson and his son Domhnall play Mad Eye Moody, the wisecracking Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and Bill Weasley, the best looking and about to be married member of the red-headed Weasley clan.

But Gleeson senior steals every scene he appears in with his caustic wit and natural charisma, and his son has a quite job to make his presence felt in the company of his old man.

Domhnall Gleeson’s character is being wed to Fleur Delacour (played by Clemence Poesy) at a wedding that also sees Harry reunited with Luna Lovegood, one of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter series, played by Evanna Lynch, the 19-year-old Co. Louth actress who has grown up with the series.

This time, though, we meet Luna’s equally kooky father Xenophilius Lovegood, played by Rhys Ifans.

In the opening scenes of the new adventure something happens that’s groundbreaking in the Potter series -- the wizarding world keeps breaking into the real world, with often deadly consequences.

Fearing for his life, Hagrid the giant, played by veteran British actor Robbie Coltrane, has no choice but to return Harry to the world of non-wizarding folk, known as Muggles, when they’re being pursued by Voldemort’s followers.

The sight of lethal spells breaking over the ordinary English countryside is meant to surprise and it does.

Later Harry, Hermione and Ron have no choice but flee to Shaftsbury Avenue in the heart of London when they’re running for their lives and even there they’re followed. The message is simple -- nowhere is safe.

In their dangerous quest to destroy the Horcruxes that contain pieces of Voldemort’s soul, Harry Hermione and Ron face the most dangerous challenges of their young lives and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will not disappoint the true fan or the casual admirer of the epic series, which opens nationwide on Friday.

Now that the shooting has wrapped on the final Potter film Lynch intends to take time out from her big screen career, which has taken up all of the past five years for the lucky Irish teen.

Her plan is to repeat her Irish Leaving Certificate high school exam and give herself even more career options.

Although there’s no question that Lynch plans to pursue her luck in Hollywood, she knows the acting world can be a crapshoot and she wants to ensure she has all her bases covered.

“I'm repeating the Leaving Cert, sadly, but I hope to continue acting afterwards,” the young actress explained. “That’s the thing with acting. It can be a very unsteady business so I want to make sure I have something to fall back on in case I want to go to college.”

“I love acting, though,” she continued. “It’s a great career when you’re young and you’re meeting people and you don't quite know what to do with your life.

“Harry Potter has always been a big part of my life.  I started reading it when I was just eight. I think the cast all know that it’s not really over. There will still be premieres and press. People are always going to be interested in Harry Potter. We all stay in touch.”

The decision to re-sit her exams at a later date in Ireland was one that came fairly easily, she explains.

“I decided to repeat the Leaving Cert because I was so distracted with these films. I knew I wasn’t studying hard enough.

“We’d be on set, having a laugh in the green room, and I’d be saying to myself I should be studying. But then I thought, I can re-sit the exams, I can’t re-sit Harry Potter. Besides, there'll be no more filming this year, just a bit of press, so now it’s all about the exams.”

Gone are the blond tresses that came with Lynch’s character, because nowadays she has opted for a copper colored mane that’s a dramatic departure from her kooky former self.

“I can dye my hair now,” she told the press with a laugh, glad to be free of the restrictions of her role.

“I’m doing things now that I should have done a few years ago, like getting braces on my teeth, and learning to drive a car, and being with friends in one place for a fixed set of time.”

Lynch filmed her last scene of the Potter adventure on June 1 of this year and got her wish to go out with a big celebration.

“I'd always hoped my last scene would be one like that rather than just a shot of my hand or something,” she explained.

On her final day it turned out she was in luck. Most of the cast she’d spent the previous five years with were on set and they took a huge photo of the entire cast and crew.

“It didn't really hit me that it was over until I was going into the producers to say goodbye and thank them that I felt this big rush of emotion. I couldn’t contain it,” she said.

“But I felt like it had come full circle. My first encounter with Harry Potter was going into the producers office to introduce myself and explain why I was suited for the role.”