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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

New movies include 127 Hours, The Next Three Days, and the Amnesty International Film Festival, but Harry Potter has the main spot this week. James Franco with a painful hiking accident and Russell Crowe’s efforts to break Elizabeth Banks out of prison are the alternatives to Potter, no magic required.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: Part 1: The second-last Harry Potter film comes charging out of the gate, dazzles us for a while and then bogs down into a long teaser for Part 2. Apparently, according to Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry, that’ll be a “firestorm” that will leave people “breathless”. OK, that’s coming next summer. Right now we have a film that is overly long, drags in the middle and is so earthbound that it doesn’t have a lot of magic.

Our heroes, Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) aren’t even at Hogwarts in this one. They’re on the run in a bleak and often snowy British landscape, staying ahead of the Death Eaters and searching for the Horcruxes that are key to defeating the evil Lord Voldemort. There are many distractions, though. In one long stretch, it’s bickering, anger and jealousy. Ron, for instance, imagines a discreet, gauzy vision of Harry and Hermione in a nude kissing scene. All that as a powerful momentum should be building in the main story, as they’re trying to figure out what the late Dumbledore really meant, while they learn they have even more objects to find – a sword and the three “deathly hallows” – and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) keeps getting stronger. He now controls both the school and the Ministry of Magic and is spreading a form of fascism that looks very 1930s. There are many strong and entertaining bits – including a fully-animated tale of three brothers – but it’s a diffuse and scattered film overall. Readers probably won’t mind since it sticks very closely to the book, the first half, that is. (Dunbar, Oakridge, Rio, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres).  3 out of 5

127 HOURS: For the record, that would be just about five days. A long time to be trapped in a crevasse with your arm jammed under a rock you can’t move. You probably know from the ample publicity, or from Aron Ralston’s own real-life story in his book, what eventually happened. He cut off his arm. It was either that or die. The film re-creates that amputation in graphic detail. It’s intense, has caused people to faint and scared many others out of seeing the film. No need to stay away. You can always close your eyes while it’s happening. That way you won’t miss one of the better films of the year with a strong, natural and endearing performance by James Franco.

 

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