It’s the beginning of the end for Harry Potter fans.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” opens in theaters Friday. It’s the seventh time audiences have seen the young wizard on the big screen, and the second-to-last blockbuster of the motion picture series.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are back and all grown-up. Harry and Ron sport stubble for much of the movie, and sexual tension becomes a problem for the first time. But the trio isn’t the only thing that seems to be maturing — their problems are bigger than ever.

There’s no more Quidditch, and not even a glimpse of Hogwarts. The three friends are thrown out into the world and are now fighting Lord Voldemort on a global stage. Harry, Ron and Hermione spend much of the film deep in the woods and other remote locations in an attempt to conceal themselves from Voldemort.

Much of the 146-minute film is consumed with the quest to track down several hidden Horcruxes, which when destroyed, will put an end to Voldemort for good.

Dumbledore, who was killed in the previous movie, leaves behind clues for the Horcruxes’ discovery. The hints are difficult for even Hermione to understand, and the group takes more than one wrong turn.

If there’s one constant theme during the film, it’s definitely darkness. Harry, Ron and Hermione rarely crack a smile, and tears are shed on more than one occasion.

The movie’s color pallette rarely strays from depressing shades of gray and brown, and even the beginning Warner Bros. logo is old and weathered. Director David Yates does mix in some humor from time to time, which is a pleasant break from the sinister and serious subject matter.

The movie is intertwined with complex problems, a ton of character references and so many spells that the viewer would benefit from a Harry Potter dictionary. The first installment of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” caters toward the true Potter fan, but there is enough action and adventure to keep the casual follower entertained. Don’t bother going if it’s your first Harry Potter film or if you’ve skipped some of the series — you’ll have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

Radcliffe, Grint and Watson have grown up with the Harry Potter film series and their acting reflects that. Much unlike the first film, the three actors seem emotionally invested in their roles. The audience will get to see a different side to Hermione — for once her nose is let out of her large collection of books — and she steals many scenes.

Not surprisingly, the film frustratingly ends in the middle of the story, leaving Potter fans looking for more. The second installment of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” won’t be released until July 2011, marking the bittersweet end of a film series that will have spanned 10 years.