Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part I
By Padraic Rooney
This movie serves its purpose well. If you're looking for a relatively faithful adaptation of the first half of the book it's based on, you'll be pleased. And if you've enjoyed all the other Potter films, you'll be pleased. The loose ends are beginning to wrap up, old characters return (and often die) and new characters are introduced (and, again, die).
I'm not going to criticize Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows for being split into two parts. It would have been impossible to adapt 759 pages into one movie without cutting something important. That said, if the first part of your movie is 2½ hours long, it should be a tightly-edited 2½ hours, and this wasn't. Some scenes seem entirely superfluous and others are necessary but incredibly dull.
That's one reason this might not be for the younger fans. It's a combination of very well-done action scenes and subtle, poignant moments, but very little of the magical whimsy the kids are probably hoping for. The Death Eaters as Nazis allegory is much more literal here and there's more blood and gore. And yeah, there's death. Characters die, some gruesomely. This fits the overall arc of the main characters growing up, but might be too much for some of the First Year wizards out there.
This film is technically excellent with superb special effects. It's a great adaptation and fills its place in the series. But as far as films in general go, it's also awkwardly paced and at times downright boring.
Harry Potter fans will like it, but non-fans might want to skip this for something with more substance. And for that, this gets 2½ magical orphan miners out of four.