I'll wear my dork badge proud here. I've seen several articles floating about claiming that latest Harry Potter movie is better than the book. Having read the book and seen the movie, I can definitively affirm–not a chance.
I agree with you Brandon that this is the best of the movies they have made. It's certainly the one I enjoyed the most. Still, every time I watch one of the movies, I find something lacking and off. The movies just move too quickly, gloss over too much, and don't let scenes develop the way they should (or overemphasize the wrong scenes). This is definitely a result of having read the books. Also, I find that when actual actors start speaking the language of the books (like John Hurt talking about wands), it all just seems terribly silly. I love the books, but having them acted out seems, at times, kind of ridiculous.
I will never be able to watch any of the movies in this series as movies. They will always in the shadow of the books. I'm really curious to hear the opinions on the movies of people who haven't read the books. That's why I liked reading your post Brandon. It's good to get an outsider's view of the series.
One thing I really liked about the movie: They did a fine job with Snape. He got the send off he deserves.
One thing I really did not like: They included Rowling's original ending (which I'm a fan off) but decided to keep the same actors and give them little to no make up. It just looked stupid and took away from the emotion of the sequence.
Reading the final book of the series for the first time was an amazing experience. I got it the day it came out and read it in two days, doing my best to make it last as long as I could. Reading the last sentence of the book and then closing it was an incredible emotional experience. Most Potter nerds would probably say the same thing. That's a lot to live up to for the movie version, so for me there's no way it even came close to touching that original reading experience. But still, it all could have been handled much worse.
All in all, a solid end to an honorable film series.