***½/**** Image B- Sound A+ Extras A+
starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter
screenplay by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
directed by David Yates
by Walter Chaw David Yates's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (hereafter Harry Potter 7a) is a coda for the end of a dark decade in film--a war journal, a diary of the apocalypse--and good enough to be this constant, niggling reminder that had J.K. Rowling the courage to do what it appears she intends to do at first, her Harry Potter series could have been nigh canonical instead of just pretty good. Alas, that's for the second part of this two-parter. For now, it's easy to see Harry sacrificed on the cross of his Chosen One eminence. With Yates back for his third go-round and Steve Kloves again adapting, it's a pair of newcomers to the franchise--DP Eduardo Serra and composer Alexandre Desplat (his work on Birth and Lust, Caution: tremendous)--who contribute most to the minimal, blasted feeling of Harry Potter 7a. It's empty, bleak, and stately for long stretches as our core triumvirate of Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) search a Tennysonian wilderness for some essential part of themselves valuable enough to offer up for the sake of the world. When it opens with Hermione mournfully erasing the memory of her from her "muggle" parents, the film announces itself as a triumphant return to the broken wasteland promised by The Order of the Phoenix. This Harry Potter intends to do harm.