By Setoodeh, Ramin
Newsweek , Vol. 156, No. 21
Byline: Ramin Setoodeh
The new Harry Potter movie starts with a close-up shot of the Minister of Magic, who barks: "These are dark times. There's no denying it." You're obviously supposed to notice the 2010 subtext, but it's hard to make that leap when the film itself looks like it was shot under a storm cloud. Harry scowls non-stop, as if he's channeling his inner Mr. Darcy. Hermione and Ron must have food stuck in their teeth because they don't crack a smile either. The dismal soundtrack is totally appropriate--for a funeral. In 146 minutes, not much happens besides a handful of wand fights and the revelation that Harry drinks cappuccino. Actually, the most disturbing revelation is the film's title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. You mean there's more?
For years, Lord Voldemort has tried to kill Harry Potter, but the bloated films based on J. K. Rowling's books have essentially done the deed for him. They've taken one of the most enchanting series in contemporary fiction and sucked out all the magic. That's not to say these movies aren't faithful; they follow the plot meticulously--to their detriment. There are so many extraneous details, characters, subplots, and sub-subplots, you have no idea what you're watching unless you've read the books, and even then, you need the Cliffs Notes. What's worse is that while Rowling's stories are endlessly inventive, Potter onscreen just gives you a headache. The movies feel like a never-ending amusement-park ride, which is probably intentional, since Universal just opened one. Oh, and by the way: Harry Potter is now the world's most successful film franchise at $5. …