Review: Latest “Harry Potter” Is a Spellbinding Tale

The first chapter of the final chapter of the definitive adventure of our time is here -- and it does not disappoint. Team Potter has crafted an exciting visual spectacle that anyone can enjoy.

Even if you've never seen a “Harry Potter," don’t be daunted by the prospect of "The Deathly Hallows." Any reasonably intelligent person can keep up. At the end of the day, Harry, Hermione and Ronald are just Luke, Leia and Han, with everyone else dutifully playing their supporting roles. This is in no way to denigrate “Potter” or his fans -- it’s a classic story that will be retold until the sun burns out, the aliens come down or mankind finally manages to kill himself off.

Like its predecessors, "Hallows Pt. 1" runs nearly 2-1/2 hours. But the other films used that amount of  time to cover and entire book of the series, where this only gets about half-way through. For super hardcore fans this is a major boon; it allows director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves to dig deep into the source material. For we civilians, however, it causes the film to crawl at times, particularly as we gear up for the finale.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have all grown into their roles as Harry, Hermione and Ronald, respectively. They've been playing these roles their entire careers and it shows. And the three principals are surrounded by some of the best British actors of the last two generations (thank god Ralph Fiennes was given a chance to push Hades from our memories).

This is Yates' third "Potter" and he's clearly comfortable with the material. The special effects look great, the action moves and the story is strong. Again, he indulges his core audience a bit much, but it's hardly fair to criticize the man for that. The explanation of the "Deathly Hallows" is done particularity well: Yates departs completely from the film's look, animating the story of the three brothers and their deal with the devil.

There's a much-discusses topless makeout session between Harry and Hermione, one Watson herself has said was "awkward," which really doesn't begin to describe it. The silver body paint, the smoothed over skin, the stilted embrace -- it's just a mess. No, it's not meant to be a great romantic moment, but you're left feeling a little embarrassed for the actors, yourself and the people sitting near you.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1" Is entertaining enough and the end trenchant and cliffhangery enough that you're sure to see Pt. 2.

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