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'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1'

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Each Harry Potter film has promised to be darker than the previous one, but the highly-anticipated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 takes darkness to another level. Fans, especially dedicated, diehard followers, of both the novels and film series will likely enjoy the mature turn of events and style in the latest installment. Those who haven't been keeping up with the series will be confused, albeit enchanted by the beautiful scenery and action sequences. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) are on the hunt to find Horcruxes (figments of Voldemort's soul) to destroy Voldemort once and for all. However, in this tediously difficult journey, the trio discovers something called the "Deathly Hallows." The movie opens with the new Minister of Ministry, Rufus Scrimgeour, proclaiming, "These are dark times." Indeed, they are. The cinematography is dreary and desperate with darker shades of color. When the WB symbol appears, it's deteriorating and crumbling -- a cue to audiences that this is no longer the fantasy world of the earlier films. Notable is that an eloquently moving montage begins the film, including Hermione erasing her parents' memories, Harry evacuating the Dursleys, and Ron embracing himself for inevitable doom. The scene when Hermione "obliviates" her parents is especially compelling, and Watson manages to effectively shed some tears. The Seven Potters scene in which members of the Order of Phoenix drink Polyjuice Potion to transform into Harry is hilarious, providing a moment of levity. They then fly to the Burrow for safety, but Death Eaters meet them in the air. The sequence is invigorating, as it moves in lightning-fast speed. Bill and Fleur's wedding also takes place, but non-readers of Harry Potter will likely be confused. After all, Bill was never really introduced in the previous films. However, this lends itself to only minor disruption, as the wedding scene is very short. Excitement builds up when the wedding guests are notified that the ministry has fallen. Chaos ensues. Especially exciting to watch is when the trio sneaks into The Ministry. The scene is extremely well crafted, with anticipation and suspense built up through slow motion camera work, quick editing, and eerie CGI. We also get plenty of real world settings in this film, which creates a much different feel. The middle of the film feels like a road trip -- it's slow and down at times, but full of insight, development, and expansive scenery. The weight of the film is definitely put upon the trio this time around, and they shine especially during the camping scenes. Some moments are heart-wrenching. Their acting has improved so tremendously that one is more emotionally invested in their characters than in previous films. There's great urgency. Voldemort is mostly seen through flashes from Harry's visions. These visions are meant to provide plenty of lost, but important information, but visually they're not very effective. The fade-ins and fade-outs feel almost a bit lazy in technique. One needs to pay close attention to who's who, and this is difficult to do for those who haven't been following the Harry Potter plots closely. Even those who have read all the books might have a hard time. Basically, Voldemort is relentlessly hunting down the Elder Wand, an undefeatable wand that is also a Deathly Hallow. The film closes with a few action packed and suspenseful scenes. Ron has a pivotal scene that is quite loyal to the book, in which he breaks the locket horcrux. The scene features naked Harry and Hermione, and even fans of the book may be surprised about how vivid the images are. Godric's Hallow also provides plenty of visual surprises. The scenes that take place there are just as suspenseful and thrilling as portrayed in the book. They aren't for the faint at heart. Malfoy Manor is featured toward the end of the film, where a tortured Hermione will send chills through the audience. A major death also occurs to a fan favorite and the moment is ultimately touching and reflective. Voldemort gets a major scene at the end in which he breaks into Dumbledore's tomb and steals the Elder Wand. The scene is somewhat abrupt, but it's also effective and nicely functions as a cliffhanger; fans will be thirsting for more. Forbiddance, excitement, and anticipation await the second part of the finale, which opens in July.