If you criticized “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” for wasting time to set up the final film, you are likely to have a similar gripe with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”  Diehard Potter fans will probably see it no matter what this review says, however they should carry in the expectation that the movie is largely uneventful.  “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” is more about Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) traveling than about them battling the evil wizard Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). 

According to Warner Brothers, the final novel in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has been split into two films in an effort to more completely convey the tale.  Instead of using the first part for additional exposition though, the filmmakers bore us with more tedious setup.  “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” certainly prepares the stage for epic drama in the second movie, but its lack of major conflict is disappointing.   

In the preceding film “Half-Blood Prince,” Harry learned of seven dark artifacts called Horcruxes, each of which contains bits of Voldemort’s soul.  His mentor Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) told him that these Horcruxes feed Voldemort’s power, and that they had unwittingly destroyed two already.  At that point, Harry realized he would need to obliterate the remaining Horcuxes to defeat Voldemort.  Before Harry could act on this information, Dumbledore was murdered by Lord Voldemort’s henchmen.

“Deathly Hallows: Part 1” picks up with Harry still reeling from the loss of Professor Dumbledore.  With Voldemort’s followers growing by the day, the Ministry of Magic is desperately trying to keep up the guise that everyone is still safe from the dark wizard’s clutches.  Harry and his friends are living on the run from Voldemort’s forces, constantly moving from one hiding place to another. 

After surviving a number of attempts on their lives, Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to take the fight to Voldemort, by questing after the remaining Horcruxes.  The three young wizards strike out on their own, braving the dangers of unknown wilderness and the risk of capture by Voldemort’s squad of baddies.  More of their time is spent wandering around aimlessly though, until they get some clues about how to destroy the Horcruxes. 

By the time they finally dispatch the Horcruxes though, it feels rather anticlimactic because the there is never a doubt that the heroes will be able to take care of the cursed objects.  One of the Horcruxes is not even clearly identified for those who have not read the book, which adds to the lack of excitement.

There are some humorous moments in “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” mostly coming from the facial expressions and dialogue of the Weasley family, and a couple of sad ones when friends of Potter fall victim to the dark forces of Voldemort. 

The only truly interesting story development relates to the Deathly Hallows, a set of legendary magical items Voldemort is attempting recover so that he can defeat Harry.  The filmmakers craft a vivid animated tale that’s captivating and informative for those who did not read the books. 

Potter fans will be excited to be one step closer to the final chapter of the boy wizard’s life, but “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” will just leave you wanting more action.  Unfortunately you will have to wait until July 2011 until you can see the conclusion. 

My Grade: B