Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2 stars)

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

(12A) 145min

The decision to split the final adaptation of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books into two episodes will mostly pay dividends at the accounting office of Warner Brothers, as on-screen the latest wizard tale, the seventh in the series, lacks potential magic. Director David Yates, returning for the third time, seems to have an aversion to the action sequence and rushes through the big set pieces at a blistering clip while procrastinating over moments where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Hermione (Emma Watson) wander through some rather lush landscapes. The movie starts with a foreboding pre-credit sequence that sets the tone for the movie, in that it has plenty of atmosphere and hints at great evil, but ultimately leads nowhere.

The smart narrative device where all of Potter’s best school friends get to become Harry doppelgangers and act as decoys ends up as a damp squib moment. Instead of playing out the doppelganger possibilities Yates hurries through the action and follows Potter at breakneck speed on a journey through London traffic being pursued by Voldemort’s men. Perhaps the problem is that there are too many attacks on Potter in the movie and Yates wants to concentrate on the two guys and a girl scenario that the central triangle brings to the fore. So the CGI has a hustled together quality and one wonders how bad the abandoned 3D conversion must have been for the plug to be pulled, because the 2D action sequences really aren’t much cop.

Where the filmmakers deserve credit is in the decision to make this tale bleak. With this being the only film that doesn’t end on an upbeat end of school year note, the action is moved away from Hogwarts and the world found by the trio, as they go out to search and destroy Horcruxes (stones containing fragments of Voldemort’s soul) is harsh. No stone seems to be a friend and Ron suffers a jealous rage of his own making. Sidekick Rupert Grint turns in his best performance of the series with a surprising line of comic touches, while a tired looking Radcliffe gives us more of the same. This is less a movie than an appetiser before the main course next summer.

General release from Fri 19 Nov.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

  • 2 stars
  • 2010
  • UK / US
  • 2h 26min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: David Yates
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

The seventh installment of the wildly popular wizard franchise is an atmospheric but emotionally hollow and rather rushed take on Rowling's original, with a strong performance from ever-dependable Grint but little else to recommend it other than as an appetiser for next summer's grand finale.