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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner16/11/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 146 mins

Darker and scarier than its predecessors, this is a fitting and enjoyable run-up to the action packed finale, though it might be a bit baffling if for some reason you haven't read the books or seen the previous films.

What's it all about?
Directed by David Yates, part one of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows picks up shortly after the events of the previous film, with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson) and their various allies regrouping in the wake of the battle at Hogwarts. With the school now controlled by Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters, Harry, Hermione and Ron go on the run, with the intention of finding and destroying several magical objects (or Horcruxes – pay attention at the back there) that are connected to Voldemort's immortality.

After a successful raid on the Ministry of Magic, the trio get their hands on Salazar Slytherin's locket but are then faced with the tricky question of how to destroy it before it destroys them. And as if that wasn't bad enough, their quest is complicated still further when they visit journalist Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans) and learn of another three sacred objects known as the Deathly Hallows.

The Good
As with each of the previous films in succession, the performances of the three leads have improved dramatically, in particular Radcliffe and Grint, though Watson, as ever, remains the stand-out. There's also strong support from Ralph Fiennes (camping it up a little, to enjoyable effect), Helena Bonham-Carter (as twitchy, witchy Bellatrix LeStrange) and Brendan Gleeson (an all-too-brief appearance as Mad-Eye Moody), as well as new contributions to the already sprawling cast from the likes of Peter Mullan (as Death Eater Yaxley) and Rhys Ifans (with a distracting Oirish accent).

Yates' direction has improved enormously since the previous film too, resulting in the best-directed film of the series since The Prisoner of Azkaban; he even manages to make the long frequently dialogue-free stretches where nothing much is happening interesting, thanks to some crowd-pleasing additions to the book, such as an impromptu dance sequence between Harry and Hermione.

The Great
The special effects are excellent and there are also some unexpected highlights, such as a gorgeous, animated sequence that illustrates the Deathly Hallows story. The action scenes and set pieces don't disappoint either, particularly the opening chase sequence and the raid on the Ministry.

Worth seeing?
With a darker, more serious tone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 feels like the most grown-up of the Potter films to date, thanks to superb direction, a strong script and terrific performances from the three leads, despite still being too long.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (M)
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Content updated: 17/10/2019 12:18

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