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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Year: 2010
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves/J K Rowling
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Bill Nighy, Richard Griffiths, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, Brendan Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Timothy Spall, Michael Gambon, Clémence Poésy, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones, Rade Serbedzija

It took Jon Favreau to remind us blockbuster movies could be fun. It takes a very special film to contain all the light, colour, flash and pizzazz of the old Hollywood style and not be a fusty museum piece, a feat he pulled off with 2008s Iron Man.

But with mantles thrown down by films from Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith to The Dark Knight most movies still aim in the other direction. Whether the source material is a graphic novel, comic strip or video game, one director and studio after another has crowed in the press about how they're going dark. Dark is definitely the new black because fun, after all, doesn't win Oscars or command billion dollar returns (just ask Tim Burton, who forgot Alice in Wonderland was a small, quiet adventure about a little girl and turned it into another Lord of the Rings rip-off).

Sometimes, it's a good thing when they chase the darkness, and the Deathly Hallows is good news if you're one of the 17 people on the face of the Earth who haven't obsessively eaten up every Harry Potter book, or if you thought the first six movies were big studio tosh for kids.

Gone are the ridiculously named Hogwarts teachers and staff, gone is the cute, wry comedy. After an early aerial battle scene to rivals a science fiction war film for thrills, the story is about Harry, Hermoine and Ron alone – lost, scared and slowly falling apart while the minions of Voldemort close in.

With Dumbledore dead, Voldemort's servants have taken over the school and ministry. There's nothing left to do but send Harry into hiding, and he and his two friends take to skulking around dingy London cafes and teleporting themselves to scary woods and windy clifftops to sleep in a tent and try to plan their next move. Voldemort's power is growing and they have little idea how to find the last horcruxes and do away with him.

The proceedings lag a little in the last half, only because it's the first in the two-part finale. We leave on a cliffhanger of sorts, with Voldemort cementing his power even more and hope fading fast. There's even something for you if you're an avowedly Potter-averse.

There are some really interesting filmmaking styles and well-composed shots. Director David Yates' handheld camera gives the story an urgent, battle-ready feel, and a standout is the sequence of the three brothers story. Narrated by Hermoine, we learn the legend of the brothers who cheated death, seeing it all unfold in the most exquisite style like a cross between Singaporean shadow marionette and wood carving.

It's nasty, violent and scary – definitely not for kids under about 10 – and the films are finally growing up with the kids who've played these roles for a decade of their lives.

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