Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (PG-13, 146min)
Well, HP fans, the final installment of the Harry Potter film series has begun (ending with Part 2 in July 2011). This first part is really that...simply the first part of a 5hr film.
I have read the books and seen all the previous films, so I am very familiar with the world and history of Harry Potter. Although I decided not to re-read the book again before the film, it is very helpful viewing this film with some knowledge of the story (either seeing the previous movies or reading the book). They have a lot to cram in and cram they do into every word of dialogue, background scenery, character, etc. (this is true of the 6th film as well...so look for lots of 'clues' in the Half-Blood Prince).
Over the past ten years, our trio (Harry, Hermoine, Ron) have grown up quite a bit, not only in character but the actors themselves. Which is good since the story demands a lot more precise acting and depth, which is delivered effectively. Additionally, the film is probably 2/3 just them. Which is a bit a shame since the book is so rich in supportive characters but the story is not lost in these omissions. Of course, book readers will find their favorite characters or scenes cut out (such as no Charlie Weasley in the series). These omissions are necessary to make watchable movies but I feel they lessen some of the emotional impact.
As a film, this is the most 'adult' of the series. Watching the first film again....it is a children's movie. This is a film for adults. Not only in content but cinematography (lots of silent, beautiful scenery). There is also more violence...prepare for major character demise.
I can't say that I am disappointed in the film but I want so much more. I felt genuine excitement when seeing the trailers but didn't feel that rush in the film itself. This film is slow and full of story opposed to action. And I felt it kind of just stops (like they said, ok that's been 2 1/2 hrs, stop it!). I felt similarly when I saw the Lord of the Rings films. The film in no way stands on its own (you must have background knowledge and the patience to wait for the conclusion). However, this is ok since the film will continue in several months.
I, of course, recommend it for anyone interested in Harry Potter. I would also recommend seeing it at least once on the big screen...the camera work and locations are too gorgeous to miss. As it is a more mature film, the PG-13 rating is completely appropriate (my kids aren't allowed to see any of the films in their entirety until they have read the books first).