'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' Review: Disappearing Magic

Regardless of its quality, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” will likely become a huge blockbuster. It’s the seventh film chronicling the long-running book series about a wizard named Harry Potter and his two best friends. The final book of the series was split into two films and the second part will be released in July 2011. As a long time fan of the series, I was excited to see the penultimate movie in the franchise but “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” lacks the magic and the imagination of its exciting prequels.

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“The Deathly Hallows” begins as panic continues to brew in the wizarding world. Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes), the story’s villian, is leading an army that plans to ambush and kill Harry Potter, the young and powerful wizard. Voldermort tried to kill Potter as an infant after killing his parents but his plan failed. At long last, he’s now trying to finish the job.

As the story begins, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) reunites with his wizard friends, who know what is at stake in the battle between Potter and Voldermort. In the earlier films, Harry and his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) spent much of their time at Hogwarts, a school for young wizards. However, after Harry’s mentor Professor Dumbledore was killed at the end of the sixth film, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven for any of them.

In “Deathly Hallows,” Potter’s magical friends must disguise themselves as Harry in order to move him to a safe location. Their trip is interrupted by a fierce attack of Voldermort’s minions. Even when he reaches the “safe” location, Voldermort is still close behind and his army attacks Harry and his friends. Harry, Hermione and Ron quickly escape. They begin a search for the Horcruxes that contain Voldermort’s soul. Each of them must be destroyed before Voldermort can be killed.

The trio’s journey eventually leads them to the Ministry of Magic, where a former Hogwarts professor wears one of the Horcruxes around her neck. Harry, Ron and Hermione must take on the identities of three Ministry of Magic employees to sneak into the office without getting caught. Potter is wanted by the Ministry so the three must be careful to escape suspicion. After an incident at the Ministry, the trio must go into seclusion to figure out how to destroy the Horcruxes they possess and how to find the remaining ones.

Much of the movie is spent with these three characters as they try to figure out how to destroy the Horcruxes. They seem clueless about the location of the other Horcruxes and they spend to much time moping and arguing. Ron, for one, takes on the look of a deranged serial killer as he becomes jealous of Harry’s relationship with Hermione. Teen angst becomes the main focus of the story during this long and boring lull. When the plot finally picks up speed in the latter half of the third act, the momentum of the story is nonexistent.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One” is a rare misstep in this strong series. It lacks nearly all of the magic that its predecessors arrived in theaters with. The earlier Potter films were laced with strong action sequences, a memorable sense of imagination and childlike splendor. Even in its two and a half hour run time, “Deathly Hallows” only has a few action scenes. It lacks a sense of imagination. Nothing about this story seems fresh.

Aside from the excitement and the imagination of the earlier films, many of the best characters in the series are barely featured here. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), only appears in a few scenes, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) shows up but only for a few seconds and Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) doesn’t appear at all. These characters added to the joy of this series and they are sorely missed.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1″ lacks some of the best ingredients in this series and is a disappointing entry in an otherwise well-done series of films.

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