The penultimate Potter film abandons Hogwarts, thrusting Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) into the wilderness on a grimly adult hunt for clues to thwart Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Sadly, dividing J.K. Rowling's final Potter book into two films, however logical, does more violence to the material than even Voldemort could manage.
Though the trio's trek through the first half of the book is often scary, the film underscores its tediousness; at nearly 2½ hours, it's far too long.
A clever jaunt into the Ministry of Magic and brisk chases punctuate the dull stretches, but Part 1 is (and utterly feels) like setup for next summer's dramatic finale, with a mighty battle to decide the fate of the world.
Take heart, fellow Potter fans: A better film surely awaits.