2.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund
Did my appreciation for the Harry Potter saga's ever-darkening maturity just turn around and slap me in the face? Watching last year's gorgeous game-changer “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” I marveled at the sheer lack of “Sorcerer's Stone”-style childishness, fully convinced that director David Yates was poised to lead me down a grown-up path I could finally follow. But with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” the first half of the last chapter of the lengthy wizard opus, Yates, who's been around since “Order of the Phoenix,” jumps to extremes and abandons all sense of joy, excitement, cohesion and, worst of all, pacing. It's as if he and the series' screenwriter, Steve Kloves, grew determined to twist this penultimate installment into some sort of brooding, arty, European think piece, which J.K. Rowling's material, however rich, simply can't support. Looking on while this 146-minute movie dragged its blistered feet, I realized the filmmakers I'd hailed for putting away childish things had in fact created a monster.