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Wand Over Matter 

Harry Potter slowly prepares for his final adventure

After nine years, six movies, and more hormone-fueled growth spurts you can shake a wand at, this is the beginning of the end of the Harry Potter franchise.

And like last year’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the first part of the boy wizard’s final chapter (the second half arrives next summer) is directed by David Yates. And like last year’s outing, this penultimate offering is an occasionally rousing adventure that also connects on an emotional level.

With his beloved mentor gone, it’s up to Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his BFFs Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) to stop the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

Only problem, much of the good stuff comes at the end of the story, and too often the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows plays like a two-and-a-half-hour setup.

Still, the movie’s dark tones make it one of the moodiest in the series and therefore one of the most complex. (It’s also needlessly convoluted and busy at times -- good luck trying to follow the story if you haven’t seen the other movies.)

Unsurprisingly, the first part of The Deathly Hallows feels somewhat incomplete. Hopefully, the real magic is being saved for the end. --Michael Gallucci

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