Are reviewers turning a cool eye to 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1?'
On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has garnered an 81% fresh rating, lower than ratings for all of the "Potter" films except for 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." (Most of the movies scored closer to the mid-80s, with Alfonso Cuaron's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" holding the high score of 90% fresh.)
For New York Magazine's David Edelstein, the magic is missing. “'Hallows’ first hour is deadly, all right,” he quips.
The Times' Kenneth Turan isn't hugely enthusiastic either. “What's the latest Harry Potter film like? If you've seen the previous six, you already know. If you haven't there's no point in trying to catch up now.” But instead of feeling a sense of excitement as the series nears its conclusion, Turan believes director David Yates plays things too safe. “To be fair to ‘Deathly Hallows,’ the filmmakers have tried hard to fill the proceedings with battles and chases and debilitating curses. Genuine filmmaking excitement, however, is harder to provide.”
Roger Ebert doesn’t classify himself as a "Harry Potter" fan (he expresses a lack of interest in knowing, say, what expelliarmus does) but finds himself in a Muggle-ish fog for much of the film, describing the movie as "completely unintelligible for anyone coming to the series for the first time." He still manages to give it three stars and describes the film as "handsome and sometimes harrowing."
The movie has managed to win over a few critics. The Independent’s James Mottram gives the movie four stars out of five, and the Orlando Sentinel’s Roger Moore’s review reads like he was sitting down front wearing his own striped scarf and shoe-polish lightning scar. “Alternately funny and touching, it’s the best film in the series, an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ for these wizards and their wizarding world."
Audiences will no doubt eat up the latest installment; the movie has been gathering fans along the way, and the two-part structure gives the new release an event feel. But for a franchise that has long been able to unite both audiences and critics, it's an open question whether it can finish with that same kind of flourish.
— Steven Zeitchik and Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1," with Daniel Radcliffe, left, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. Credit: Warner Bros.