Who’s In It: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Bonnie Wright, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Timothy Spall, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, Clemence Poesy, Rhys Ifans, Imelda Staunton, Toby Jones
The Basics: Harry Potter and Friends officially leave childhood behind as they head into their final showdown with Lord Voldemort, whose evil goth forces continue their reign of terror on the dandy-clothed wizarding world. As war heats up, Harry, Ron, and Hermione camp out away from danger and have an endless series of angsty conversations while tracking down Voldemort’s remaining soul-container Horcruxes, which leads them to learn about the legend of the Deathly Hallows. The three friends endure loss, separation, isolation, jealousy, torture, and worse as they try to stick together through the most difficult time of their lives and prepare for the all-out battle that will come... in next summer’s Deathly Hallows Pt. 2. Get ready for a long eight months, Potterites.
What’s The Deal: Stakes are high from the get-go in the penultimate Harry Potter installment, which finds Harry and Co. in the midst of war. Terror reigns. People disappear. Other people die. Daniel Radcliffe takes off his clothes. (A lot.) Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves do a decent job throwing action sequences, fight scenes, and flashes of humor into the mix while advancing the characters and story, but adapting J.K. Rowling’s final novel into two films is both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, Yates has room to include tiny details, dialogue, and plot points that might otherwise have been cut out for time if Deathly Hallows had been made as a single film, which should please die-hard fans. On the other hand, it throws off the film’s pacing and it ends abruptly with a disappointingly anticlimactic final battle, leaving Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 feeling a bit incomplete as a standalone film.
Is It Too Scary For Kids? Not really, although there is that one giant evil CGI snake that eats people and a few on-screen deaths, the last of which is particularly devastating. More memorable than the killing and the torture and the creatures, however, is the jarring moment of sensuality that occurs when two main teenage characters engage in some sexy tonsil hockey sans clothing, the ultimate sign that the little witches and wizards we’ve watched grow up over the past six films are no longer children. It’s a supernatural vision and the nudity is computer generated, but still. No kid should hit puberty while watching a Harry Potter movie.
Freakiest Scene: Mad-Eye Moody turns a roomful of Potter loyalists into Harry Potter look-alikes to trick attacking Death Eaters, prompting Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy) to agonize over how ugly she looks with Daniel Radcliffe’s face on her body. (Ouch.)
Funniest Scene Involving Harry, Ron, And Hermione That Doesn’t Star Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Or Emma Watson: The trio cast a spell that lets them assume the identities of three average Ministry of Magic office employees, allowing them to awkwardly infiltrate the Voldemort-ruled stronghold. Actors David O’Hara, Steffan Rhodri and Sophie Thompson as undercover Harry, Ron and Hermione, respectively, sell it with boldly funny physical performances. Cross your fingers for more scenes with these performers to pop up on the DVD/Blu-ray release.
Characters You’ll Wish You Saw More Of: Anyone not named Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Voldemort. About a bazillion supporting characters show up to put in a scene or two (or die unceremoniously offscreen) leaving you wanting more of the familiar colorful folks we’ve gotten to know in the past six films – another reason you’ll leave Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 thinking that July 2011 can’t come fast enough.