Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows Part 1 was both critically and financially successful – $300 million domestic and $1 billion worldwide – though some fans did not approve of the plodding journey at the heart of the film

Fortunately for those fans, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 seems to be almost entirely about the action, excitement, and fights-to-the-death that come with every good climax. Today, we have a featurette that includes footage from all 8 Harry Potter films – including the original screen test of Daniel Radcliffe, Rubert Grint, and Emma Watson.

Check out the featurette below:

It’s so interesting to watch the young versions of Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson putting on their best Harry, Ron, and Hermione for the first time together, especially as compared with their older Deathly Hallow selves. They’re bright-eyed, beaming, and just excited to be a part of something so wildly popular. We’ve gotten so used to the darker, more mature aesthetic that has been utilized since Order of the Phoenix that it’s a bit startling to even momentarily return to the colorfully gleeful world created by Chris Columbus.

The Harry Potter films have not all been home runs – some of them have felt akin to clip shows: Highlights from the books violently jammed into two-and-a-half hour long films – but they’ve all been beautifully photographed, wonderfully acted, and entertaining, to say the least.

In ten short years (though it feels much longer now), Warner Bros. has churned out seven hugely successful and beloved films, to varying degrees. Each one has featured largely the same amazing cast – not only the kids, but also the adults, including Allan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, and so forth – and some of the best production values to grace the silver screen.

Now, there was never any doubt that a Harry Potter film would be lucrative, as the books themselves are some of the most successful ever, but that doesn’t take away from how impressive this venture has been. The cast and crew have created a truly emotional experience inside of an incredibly well-developed world that jives perfectly with the fantasy books by J.K. Rowling. These films will be watched and adored by audiences – children, families, and single adults alike – for generations to come, the way the Wizard of Oz and Star Wars are to this day.

Who knows when the next event picture/franchise of this magnitude will come about? All we know is that the cinematic Harry Potter experience is finally coming to its end, and we’re genuinely sad to see it go. Enjoy it while it lasts, people.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 hits theaters July 15th, 2011. Will you be there at midnight for the last hurrah?