“Deathly Hallows” Scores Positive Early Reviews

Glowing reviews for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 are trickling in from various sources preceding the film’s release this Friday, with the words “harrowing,” “grand” and most often “epic” used to describe the penultimate movie in the franchise that is inevitably due for landslide success at the box office.

Roger Ebert with the Chicago Sun-Times praised the seventh film’s casting in his three-out- of-four star review, “As we approach the end of a decade of Harry Potter, it’s clear how wisely (and luckily) the studio cast the series. [Daniel] Radcliffe, [Rupert] Grint and [Emma] Watson have grown from children to young adults, still retain the qualities they had when younger, are practiced professionals and carry the series. They are surrounded by a supporting cast that’s like an honor roll of recent great British actors,” although he docked this year’s entry for being largely inaccessible to those without encyclopedic knowledge of the cast of characters, saying, “Indeed, there are times when Hermione has to explain to Harry.”

Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly awarded Part 1 an A-, calling it “the most cinematically rewarding chapter yet”:

“I do know I felt a swell of love and awe wash over me from the very first wickedly creepy scene until the profoundly moving last one. Under the direction of David Yates—in Goldilocks terms, he’s Just Right, having gently guided the series to more consistent excellence in pace and tone with the last two installments.”

Los Angeles Times critic Keith Turan’s four-out-of-five star review applauded the film’s strict re-creation of the book, although he seemed slightly disappointed with the director David Yate’s unwillingness to innovate:

“Capable and dependable, he can be counted on to make solid albeit unsurprising films that believe in connecting the dots rather than creating risky excitement. When studio president Alan Horn said his priority for the series was treating the books ‘respectfully,’ he wasn’t kidding.”

Time magazine writer Richard Corliss found Hallows “hollow” as a result of being overstretched into two parts, but raved that its overall quality was ”just a notch below the Lord of the Rings trilogy”:

“Now the end is near, and the series’ myriad fans, thronging to the opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, face their gravest challenge yet: sitting through it. We say this not to mock but to mourn, for the Potter films have been a mostly splendid enterprise (and have earned $5.4 billion at the box office).”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy echoed a complaint present in several reviews, that the show’s middle hour featuring Harry, Ron and Hermione alone in the woods could have been trimmed down:

“More than even the most faithful of the earlier episodes, this film feels devoted above all to reproducing the novel onscreen as closely as possible, an impulse that drags it toward ponderousness at times and rather sorely tests the abilities of the young actors to hold the screen entirely on their own, without being propped up by the ever-fabulous array of character actors the series offers.”

The review database Metacritic.com currently gives Part 1 a 69 out of 100, nine points lower than Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

How do you interpret Deathly Hallows’ early scores? Tell us in the comments section.

Not prepared for this movie? Read our in-depth Harry Potter Primer for a synopsis of the first six films.