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Hallows & Goodbyes

How lucky the producers of the Harry Potter movie franchise are that Daniel Radcliffe grew into a handsome young man. Because let’s face it, sometimes cute child stars don’t cook all the way through. Fortunately, Radcliffe’s good looks have less to do with the success of the series than the source material itself: J.K. Rowling’s wildly imaginative tales of a boy wizard destined to save the world.

We’ve never read a word of the books, so our investment in the characters and stories relies solely on the films. And it seems as if each one gets better and better, building toward an epic conclusion. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, the tension and danger are palpable.

The movie reveals itself early on as the darkest chapter in the collection with promises that Part Two, which comes out next year, will raise the apocalyptic stakes even higher. Plenty of beloved characters are beginning to be killed off and we can only imagine that the final reel will see even fewer standing. (Remember, we don’t know the ending).

As an extra bonus for the pervs in the room, fans of Radcliffe’s naked Equus days will get a small thrill in the scene above where all of Harry’s friends drink a potion to become look-alikes in order to keep our real hero safe from those who want him dead. (And there are plenty of enemies.) For a few brief moments, there are six shirtless Harrys all in one room, but it’s a little like dropping into an ice cream shop where the only choices are vanilla, vanilla or vanilla. Man, that boy is white!

The only downside to the HP movies is that they each build on the mythology of the series and become less successful as films with self-contained story lines, but this one clearly is meant as a culmination of everything that’s come before it and casual filmgoers could find themselves easily lost.

The cliffhanger ending is every bit as cruel as you’d expect, but the anticipation for the end of a pop-culture institution will make the next few months nearly unbearable for the most die-hard fans. We enjoyed this one so much that we might just have to go back and read the books once the whole thing is over, just for a return visit from an old friend.

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One’
Opens at midnight tonight in theaters everywhere
www.harrypotter.com

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

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