It all started with a juvenile fiction novel about a teen boy with hidden magical powers and a grand wizarding destiny that he finds by leaving his non-magical "muggle" family and attending an English boarding school with a magical twist, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. That book was published in 1997 with the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and a film version followed in November, 2001. Since then the seven Harry Potter books that document his years of study at Hogwarts and ultimate showdown with arch-enemy Voldemort have become a world-wide phenomenon, and the seven films to date have created a series unlike any other in the history of Hollywood, a cinematic storyline that spans a decade and has created millions of fanatical fans.
Which is why the first installment of the two-parter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows proves to be such a disappointment. The book is the weakest in the series, even as it resolves the final conflict between the Dark Lord and the boy wizard who is The Chosen One.
Prior to Deathly Hallows pt 1, one of the best things about the Harry Potter films was that they worked as standalone movies, entertaining, exciting and with stories that let Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) overcome challenges and mature as a courageous young man with a destiny. If you'd seen the previous films in the series, the story worked even better as you could share the adolescent journey of Potter and his pals Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) as the epic tale of good vs. evil progressed.
If you're a Potter fan, you've already seen the film and probably found it a delightful opportunity to catch up with not just Harry, Ron and Hermione, but the Weasley family, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) and hiss at evildoers Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), the over-the-top Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). If you're just looking for an entertaining film, I suggest you skip Deathly Hallows, part 1. Maybe when part 2 is released in Summer, 2011, the two will add up to one good (albeit ridiculously long) last entry in the Potter series, but as it is, this is the most forgettable, most disappointing film of the series.