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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Do you seriously still need the credits?
DIRECTED BY
David Yates
SCREENPLAY
J.K. Rowling (book), Steve Kloves
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
146 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Warner Brothers
DVD EXTRAS
Deleted Scenes
Behind the Soundtrack
*Note that there are multiple package deals w/extra perks
 "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 
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If Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is your first venture into the world of Harry Potter, what are you thinking? Are you mad?

Seriously.

While you'll likely appreciate the special effects, film techniques and well developed characters, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is a film truly made for Harry Potter connoisseurs. This film is made for those who have devoured each and every book, perhaps several times, and who have seen every film, know every character and who can appreciate every nuance of the Harry Potter journey.

So, if you're standing there in line for your first Harry Potter film right now at 8:00 pm the night before the film opens killing time on your smartphone, I highly suggest you move your tail out of line and head on home to witness Potter's earlier adventures before trying to make sense of this, the first of the two-part Potter swansong.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are in the real world now, a first for the Harry Potter films as the majority of Potter's adventures in this film take place outside the safety zone of Hogwarts and in a very real world that suddenly makes our youngsters seem a lot more grown up and a lot more vulnerable than ever before. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters are closing in on our trio and, as those familiar with the final book will tell you, this final Potter adventure is filled with significantly more adventure, a darker tone, a higher death toll and a virtual kaleidoscope of characters from Potter adventures past and present.

It seems rather ridiculous to attempt to explain the plot of Harry Potter 7, yes I've tired of writing out the whole thing, given that the majority of you who will be attending the film could likely poke holes in any description and will undoubtedly know what's going to happen long before you enter the theater. Suffice it to say that Harry, Hermione and Ron are on the run for much of this film, hiding in a variety of locations and caring for the safety of their families. Somehow, they have survived their encounters with Lord Voldemort up until now but an early meeting of the Ministry of Magic makes it clear that Lord Voldemort is going to stop at nothing to ensure their death.

There is a secret to stopping Voldemort, essentially it involves our heroes tracking down the various pieces of Voldemort's shattered and widely distributed soul before it is too late. The long gone Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) has left them clues and, as virtually everyone knows, this adventure ends at the mid-way point allowing for the second film to close out our 10-year history with Harry Potter in July 2011.

If you started off the Harry Potter films wondering if these three lead performers really could carry off a decade of films, then you simply must marvel at their growth as actors and the rather marvelous growth into their roles. How fortunate is it to have three lead performers all remain fully committed to their characters for a 10-year period involving a full eight films?

Daniel Radcliffe has gone from awkward young boy to a rather magnificent young man, not unlike Harry Potter himself. Of the three performers, he seems the most likely to have a career that continues past the Potter films as has already, at least to a modest degree, been proven on both film and stage. Yet, both Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have matured and grown as performers, as well. Watson has become a disciplined, refined young actress and could herself be poised for a continued career if that is her choice. Recent interviews featuring Watson reveal a young woman with a remarkably grounded nature and sense of reality despite having become a multi-millionaire before she hit 21. Grint seems a little less likely to have a strong post-Potter career, yet it would be hard to argue that from film one to film seven he's certainly grown in emotional depth and cinematic presence. One could arguably say that it is, in fact, Grint and Watson who possess more of this film's shining moments, Potter himself ready to leap to the forefront in Part 2.

The leading trio has been and continues to be surrounded by a virtual Who's Who of British cinema that includes the likes of Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, John Hurt, BIll Nighy, David Thewlis and a host of others. It is hard to watch the film without being in a state of jaw-dropping awe.

There are moments in Harry Potter 7 that don't necessarily translate to cinematic greatness, extended scenes within the film's nearly 2 1/2 hour run time in which our heroes are hiding within a forest or simply laying low as if this film is simply simmering before it will bubble over in the final film.  There are also, however, moments of mastery that will delight including an animated sequence that is ingenious cinematically and as a plot device. There are also scenes in which are young adults are allowed the chance to be young adults, emotions and even sexuality are clearly bursting forth as is a not so subtle rivalry between Ron and Harry for Hermione's affections. These scenes are played with the discipline and comfort of actors who have clearly grown comfortable with emotional and physical intimacy with one another and, as such, these scenes feel natural and authentic.

On a certain level, Harry Potter 7 couldn't possibly have been a 4-star film given that it stops before the obvious story is finished and, despite its emotional resonance, feels a bit incomplete and, given the film's slower moments of forest dwelling, at times lacks the adventurous punch and spirit that we've come to associate with Harry Potter. Yet, in reality, the film is ended at an opportune moment and will only fuel the anticipation for our final adventure with these heroes and villains that we've grown to love and hate.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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