Youth fled early for Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley, the trio at the center of the Harry Potter franchise. No longer really a children's story at all, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 plucks its young heroes from the comfy four-posters of Hogwarts and makes them refugees, fleeing—and eventually waging—war. David Yates' handsome film begins with exceptional confidence and a deliberate pace. But by the time Voldemort has Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the run, the movie's accelerated to the galloping tempo familiar from the previous two Potter adaptations. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 crams in 500 of J.K. Rowling's 759 pages (Part 2 drops next July), so the story hurtles forward unceasingly, with only shouted, harried exposition separating one twist from the next. For die-hard fans of the novels (those of you who recognize Mundungus Fletcher and understand splinching), the movie's haste is merely aggravating. But casual viewers, who last visited Harry's world in the summer of '09, might well tune out the details and just enjoy the scenery and fine acting—from the usual who's-who of British thespians, of course, but also from Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, whose Hermione and Ron take charge of this busy, decidedly adult tale.
Grint and Watson: Can't you just feel the romantic tension?
Opens at Cinerama and other theaters, Fri., Nov. 19. Rated PG-13. 146 minutes.