Saturday, November 20, 2010

Penultimate ‘Potter’ pensive

On the run and fleeing for their lives, the heroes of Hogwarts experience more upheavals in the grim “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” the second to the last film in the series. Young spellcasters Harry, Hermione, Ron and their trusted allies form a resistance against the consolidated forces of arch-nemesis Voldemort, whose campaign involves the downfall of the Ministry of Magic.

Almost as dark as “Half-Blood Prince,” “Deathly Hallows” immediately illustrates how grave the situation has gotten: in one scene, the rogues smugly scheme while holding a Hogwarts teacher captive; in another, Harry’s friends magically become decoys, temporarily taking the young wizard’s form to confuse the enemy.

Much has changed, and the mythology keeps getting richer, even if the central saga itself is a pretty conventional tale with familiar trappings like predestined roles, seemingly unending quests, and heroic transformations. The movies have matured accordingly, reflecting Harry’s growth, as well as his friends’. Actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have likewise grown with the years-long roles, and they’re no less convincing in this chapter when a love triangle of sorts manifests.

The David Yates-directed “Deathly Hallows” also experiments by conjuring up an animated sequence that’s simple yet fitting, pleasantly enhancing an integral legend that hints at the existence of some magical objects.

It’s not always clear how much time has passed during and between the trio’s missions, however. Pacing issues aside, it’s visually stunning and appropriately moody, properly exemplifying the proverbial calm before the storm. Big scenes from the trailers aren’t in the movie, but will be in the second part of “Deathly Hallows,” hopefully a grand and epic finale to the enchanting saga.

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