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November 2010
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Harry Potter rekindles the magic

The “hunt” in Deathly Hallows is for the evil Lord Voldemort (played again with reptilian relish by Ralph Fiennes). But before Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) can kill his nemesis, he must first find and destroy the “horcruxes”, magical receptacles that contain fragments of Voldemort’s soul, thus preserving his immortality. Since these are scattered across the land, Deathly Hallows becomes, in effect, a sort of wandering wizards’ road trip through dark forests, across wild moors and over bleak, windswept mountainsides.

Harry is accompanied on his quest by his two best friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). They are all now quite grown up – we see nothing of their old school, Hogwarts – and director David Yates has fashioned a story that’s far more grown-up than the earlier films.

There’s lots of blood (Ron’s arm is almost ripped off at one point), more than one chilling sequence of torture and some shocking moments involving Voldemort’s very large snake. Throughout, the pervading air of threat and malice is far more intense than before.

There are more mature emotional problems for our three young heroes to deal with, too. Having gone through the exquisite agonies of adolesence in the last film, now they are troubled by romantic jealousies, with the result that Ron abandons his two friends after imagining them in a lustful naked embrace.

During his absence, a quite touching scene sees Harry and Hermione taking comfort in each other’s arms, slow-dancing to the brooding melancholy of a Nick Cave song.

As ever, the supporting cast is a parade of top thespian talent, with a particularly memorable turn from Helena Bonham Carter as the deliciously devilish Bellatrix Lestrange. Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters, Jason Isaacs and Timothy Spall have fun, too, with Rowling’s creations.

For the most part the action romps along, spurred by some impressive special effects. (Happily, Part 1 is not in 3D, as so many films – unnecessarily – have been this year; alas, you will need those infernal goggles for Part 2.)

It’s just slightly disappointing that, with the momentum having been established so effectively, we now have to wait until next year to enjoy the rest of the ride.


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