Harry Potter's 'Deathly Hallows' Unsurprising

It's the beginning of the end for Harry Potter. The seventh movie in the series opens at Midnight Friday. Critic Kenneth Turan says Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, is solid but unsurprising.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's the beginning of the end for Harry Potter, or so they say. The seventh movie in the series opens this weekend. Our critic, Kenneth Turan, says that it faithfully brings to the screen the first half of the final book in the series.

KENNETH TURAN: If you've seen the previous six Harry Potter films, you already know what "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is like. The dread Lord Voldemort looms over everything like a shadow, with his bid for universal domination. The story begins with the Dark Lord meeting with his top lieutenants, to figure out how to get rid of the only thing that stands in their way - a certain Harry Potter.

(Soundbite of movie, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows")

Mr. ALAN RICKMAN (Actor): (as Professor Severus Snape): The Auror office no longer plays any part of the protection of Harry Potter.

Unidentified Man: Where will he be taken, the boy?

Mr. RICKMAN: (as Professor Severus Snape) To a safe house. Most likely the home of someone in the order, until it's been given every manner of protection possible. Once there, it will be impractical to attack him.

TURAN: This film doesn't spend time bringing newcomers up to speed. Much of the plot involves the attempt to find and destroy a series of Horcruxes - and if you haven't a clue about what they are or why they're important, you might as well stay home.

Mr. DANIEL RADCLIFFE (as Harry Potter) Before you reply, I told you everything Dumbledore told me. And in case you haven't noticed, we have found the Horcrux already.

Mr. RUPERT GRINT (Actor): (as Ron Weasley) Yeah, and we're about as close to getting rid of it as the other (unintelligible) and the rest of them, aren't we?

TURAN: The sour way Harry and Ron respond to being on the run from the forces of evil is not a treat. A little of this goes a long way.

Mr. GRINT: (as Ron Weasley) Well, dont expect me to be grateful just because now is another damn thing we've got to find.

Mr. RADCLIFFE: (as Harry Potter) I thought you knew what you signed up for.

Mr. GRINT: (as Ron Weasley) Yeah, I thought I did, too.

Mr. RADCLIFFE: (as Harry Potter) Well, then Im sorry but I dont quite understand. What part of this isnt living up to your expectations? Did you think we were going to be staying at a five-star hotel, finding a Horcrux every other day? You thought you'd be back with your mom by Christmas?

TURAN: There is something singular, however, about this Potter movie and that is the words "Part I" that end the title. Warner Brothers has split the last book into two films, and is likely kicking itself for not having thought of that with the earlier novels. You don't make $5.7 billion in theatrical revenue, however, without giving fans of the book exactly what they're expecting.

The watchword for the Potter series in general, and this film in particular, is making the audience feel like it's in safe hands. "Deathly Hallows," like all its predecessors, is a solid but unsurprising film that believes in connecting the dots rather than doing anything risky.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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