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RIP, Dobby



By Anthony Lauriello     12/2/10 6:00pm

Watching Harry Potter is a lot like going back home for the holidays and seeing old friends. Our generation has known and followed the adventures of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) as they have made their way through Hogwarts and the magical world at large. The newest installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, is not perfect, but it is a solid addition to a series that has helped define our collective childhoods. For the three of you reading this that don't already know the plot by heart, the movie follows Harry, Ron and Hermione as they skip their seventh and final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to search for and destroy dark objects known as horcruxes, fighting the evil Voldemort in what has become an all-out magical civil war. Being a Harry Potter film, the three must also contend with their budding teenage lust in some of the film's weakest scenes. Unlike the earlier films, the mood of the movie is mostly somber and several sympathetic characters die. Audience members unfamiliar with the other movies or books will find the plot incomprehensible, as director David Yates does not waste any time on establishing background knowledge.

The acting in the movie is generally solid among the triumvirate of younger actors, especially compared to the preceding films in the series. Radcliffe encounters a bit of difficulty in a few scenes when he borders on the melodramatic, but, considering the genre, it is hardly a problem. The adult actors, while playing minor roles, do an excellent job showing their expertise and skill. Of particular note is Bill Nighy's (Hot Fuzz) brief appearance as the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. The actor does a laudable job depicting a man losing control but trying desperately to maintain an air of authority.

The special effects and design of the movie have always been the highlight of the Harry Potter films, and the seventh film is no exception. While the other movies did a great job of creating the fun-filled world of the earlier books, Deathly Hallows turns this world on its head as the familiar becomes the menacing. The most notable example of this is the Ministry of Magic, which Voldemort has infiltrated and transformed into a Nazi-like institution, bent on the purification of wizarding bloodlines. There is something chilling about seeing Snatchers (bad wizards who earn money for kidnapping non-wizard born "mudbloods") with red armbands, reciting the familiar spells of the more innocent Hogwarts days.

While the source material for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 might not be the strongest of the series, the decision to split the movie into two parts makes it one of the stronger films. It allows the movie more time to develop plotlines and characters. That being said, the movie is essentially one big setup for the next film and its final battle scene. It does a very good job of making the audience eager for the second installment in July, but if the end of the series does not live up to expectations, then few will remember the first part fondly. However, if the fine quality of the first movie is any indication of how the second will be, then there is nothing to worry about.

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