Review: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1

(M) ****

Director: David Yates.

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint.

IT'S kind of pointless reviewing Harry Potter films this far into the journey.

Each one is geared to preach to the converted and while fans may nitpick about particular omissions, the films have done a uniformly great job so far of compressing JK Rowling's dense fantastical novels into an enjoyable and rich movie. Unless they totally drop the ball, they're pretty much critic-proof and the fans love 'em.

The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Part 2 will conclude the saga in July) continues the good work. It's not without its faults, but those glitches are largely irrelevant because it ticks all the boxes Potter-heads want to see ticked.

If you're a latecomer to the franchise and haven't seen the other films, don't bother starting here. Deathly Hallows just dives straight in, expecting large amounts of prior knowledge. So if you don't know your Hogwarts from your horcruxes or who killed who, you're screwed and much of the film will just seem like lots of running and hiding and searching, with the "where to"s, "from whom"s and "for what"s a complete mystery.

Picking up where The Half-Blood Prince left off, we find Harry, Hermoine and Ron on the run from resurrected dark lord Voldemort and hunting for the containers that house the pieces of Voldemort's soul.

As a plot - in a conventional movie sense - it's not great, lacking any real direction or closure or hero's journey, but as the series has progressed, the adaptations have been less conventional movies and more companion pieces or visual representations of the novels (hence my suggestion it's pointless to review them). Deathly Hallows, more so than ever before in the franchise, feels like a chapter of something bigger, as if you switched on the TV half-way through something, and it never tries to be its own stand-alone movie (some of the earlier films at least tried to stand on their own two feet).

What I can say is that The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the scariest and darkest of the series so far, but it's also surprisingly the funniest, with neat one-liners and impressive comedic timing from the core cast bringing light into what could otherwise have been a smotheringly oppressive movie.

The running time (about two and a half hours) gets a bit bum-numbing as it approaches the second hour thanks to a lull in proceedings, some introspection and more of the omnipresent exposition. It does come home in a sprint though, pulling up abruptly to leave room for the events of Part 2.

But the only thing that matters is that Harry Potter fans will love it.

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