Beginning of the end

The intensity is ramped up for penultimate Potter offering

Harry, Hermione and Ron’s final magical mystery tour is under way.

Harry, Hermione and Ron’s final magical mystery tour is under way.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Directed by David Yates. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Move over Edward Cullen, it’s time to return the teen fantasy world back to its rightful owner, Harry Potter. The much-anticipated seventh film inspired by J.K. Rowling’s wizarding phenom book series is finally in theaters.

Initially, I doubted the necessity of separating the final book into two films, but now I get it. There’s just too much magical goodness to reasonably fit into the standard two-hour timeframe. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 takes time to closely develop the plot lines from the first half of the story, and saves the rest for later (summer 2011 to be exact).

And to his credit, director David Yates makes half of a book feel like a complete film. That’s probably because just half the story has a lot of ground to cover, literally. Following a traditional hero’s journey, young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) treks across the magical world with besties Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) in their latest attempts to save wizard-kind from the evil ways of the Dark Lord, Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes). This time they’re on the hunt to destroy the invaluable Horcruxes, the immortalizing magical objects that retain pieces of Voldermort’s soul.

Much to its success, the film doesn’t rely solely on the action/adventure conventions of its genre to move the plot along. Added to the mix are appropriate moments of coming-of-age romantic frustrations. Will Ron ever make a move on Hermione? Is Harry getting in the way? Can they all stop looking at each other longingly and just go for it? Although these romantic moments teeter the fine line between heartwarming and sappy, they also provided necessary moments of character growth. For those of us who’ve literally grown up with these characters, there’s something comforting about watching their awkward but loveable development into adulthood, because we’re right there with them. And after seven books and films chronicling their lives, these moments of personal vulnerability are necessary to validate the characters’ development. Magic and spells are cool, but it’s refreshing to have subplots we muggles can relate to.

But if it’s the magic and spells you want, don’t worry. Deathly Hallows provides sufficient amounts of cinematic fantasy-action sequences. I’ve become so spoiled by the previous films’ amazing special effects that I almost don’t notice them anymore, but they are still spectacular, especially on the big-screen.

Be warned: The seventh film establishes a more disturbing tone to complement the whole everything’s-at-stake angle necessary for the final installment. While this gives effects-specialists opportunities to create more intense visual graphics, it might be too much for younger fans to handle. For all other Potter enthusiasts, enjoy it while you can, because this is the beginning of the end.