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The beginning of the end, and what a beginning. Harry, Hermione and Ron are off in search of the Horcruxes, which, upon their destruction, would weaken Voldemort and allow our heroes (well, Harry) to finally defeat the evil wizard.

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to go. The movie is one extended road trip, as our heroes constantly move around, staying ahead of Voldemort’s snatchers while trying to figure out how to destroy the Horcruxes (no easy task, mind you, even with three more needing to be found).

The movie ends with the death of a somewhat major character (I don’t think he’s had an appearance since early in the movie series, in the books he’s played something of a more prominent role), and with Voldemort seemingly victorious. It’s a perfect spot to end the first part, with our heroes at their lowest and the villain at his highest point.

This also makes the decision to split the final novel into two films, as controversial as it was, quite brilliant. Each of the main characters grow as they should, and each minor character get enough of a throwaway moment to help us remember what significance they had in the overall Harry Potter lore. It encompasses as much of the book as possible in its 150-minute length, both in actual events occurring and references to events that happen while the heroes are on the run (which also makes this the most faithful to the books since the Chamber of Secrets). David Yates, the director of Order of the Phoenix and the Half-Blood Prince, does a great job with the material this time around (HP5 was too plot driven, HP6 was essentially an extended prologue where nothing happened except for the final scene). His character moments are spot on, and his action pieces are fierce and breathtaking. The only way to top this is with the final part, and that’s promising to be the best of them all.

As always, Emma Watson is the best of the trio, though both Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint manage their roles well.  They’ve grown up quite well, and it’ll be sad to see them go in July.

Quite good, reaching the ranks of Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire.  Must see (if you haven’t done so already).

B+

Note: I honestly don’t know who to tag for this beyond Radcliffe, Watson and Grint, given that almost every major British thespian makes an appearance in this film.  I suppose I’ll stick with the majors ones, but there are a whole bunch of people scattered throughout (if you can spot them that is).

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The other Mads Mikkelsen film (in the trailer, he’s the one telling Perseus that he’s not merely a man).  Clearly the first one is better, but I digress.

In fact, I can write this review in less than a hundred words (including the first paragraph).  It’s what you expect.  Exactly (well, just about) the same at the original, now with updated special effects.  Special effects are decent, though somewhat sketchy at times (scorpions and Medusa aren’t good).  Some blathering about choosing your own destiny, you know how that goes.

Rent. Glad I didn’t see it in 3-D.