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Movie review: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1'

DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros.

DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 1," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

3 Stars

Directed by David Yates
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes

Rated PG-13

Director David Yates does grim well, very well, and grim is just what we need when a sociopath wizard with a freaky septum is shrouding the world with pure evil.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” adapts one-half of the final installment in J.K. Rowling’s book series — the half where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) nomadically disapparate from spot to spot as they track down and destroy Voldemort’s life-sustaining horcruxes.

One horcrux per two-and-a-half hours is not a stellar rate of success, but this is about quality, not quantity. It’s about the head-banging and hand-wringing of day-to-day survival, and thanks to the somber world that Yates has carefully crafted, the sense of danger is palpable and persuasive.

Despite the bleak mood, Yates leavens the movie with deft touches of humor and thrilling action sequences. The relationships, romantic and otherwise, are also noticeably more mature. There’s even a partial nude scene that qualifies as downright sexy. (Don’t worry: The figures are digitally rendered à la Angelina Jolie in “Beowulf,” so the movie hasn’t totally deflowered the series.)

Whereas previous Harry Potter films skewed toward sanitized, pat storytelling, “Deathly Hallows” is a grittier depiction of a world in despair. More Snape and Voldemort screen time would have been nice, and the film drags at times. So did the book, though. Consider this an excellent interlude before hell really breaks loose in the final film.

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