Film: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1"; Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes; Director: David Yates; Rating: **
The generation that has lived in the times of the phenomenon called Harry Potter will recall these times fondly - of times when fans slept through the night outside shops to get their copy of the book.
Sadly, as any hardcore fan will tell you, none of the movies have come close to match the trigger to imagination of the books. And the latest film, which is the first of two parts based on the last book of the series, is no different.
That does not mean that the filmmakers will not attempt to match the money from the book that created the first billionaire author. Proof - "Deathly Hallows" is being released in two parts, with the first dragging quite a bit.
Yet "Deathly Hallows" stays truest to the book than any other film has so far.
After Dumbledore's death, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) takes control of the ministry of magic. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermonie (Emma Watson) obviously cannot be in school.
Aided by a loyal group of supporters first, and later on their own, they try to find Voldemort's Horcruxes. Their search leads them to discover the story of the Deathly Hallows and its three sacred objects - the resurrection stone to bring anyone back to life, an unbeatable Elder Want and the infallible invisibility cloak. The fight between Voldemort and Harry now becomes a race to find these.
The most successful book franchise guarantees the success of the films. However, while the previous versions dared not do more fearing boredom, "Deathly Hallows" boldly goes there and breaks the films into two parts. But despite many commendable scenes and good special effects, without its twin, which will be released only in 2011, it does not hold much power.
That does not mean that audiences will not throng theatres to see the film, or will be disappointed by it. For "Deathly Hallows", despite its slow pace, is by far the scariest film in the series with fear looming large over the film.
Yet, the 146-minute movie has many funny moments scattered across an otherwise gloomy landscape, like when many of Harry's friends drink a portion to become his duplicates, or when they literally flush themselves through a public toilet to enter the ministry of magic.
The three main protagonists have grown up now. The introduction of sexual tension between them, as also jealousy, spices up the film. The animation to explain the story of the "Deathly Hallows" is also rivetingly done.
The beginning of the end of one of the most successful franchises in cinema history, thus, may not be too engrossing in itself. It is definitely a strong build up to the grand finale, where the chosen one, Harry, will finally live up to his destiny.
That the next part will be in 3D, is merely the icing on a delicious cake.