"All three leading stars prove themselves admirably"

The first part of the last for the Harry Potter films hits UK cinemas this Friday. It's dark, it's gloomy, and I'm afraid to say, it's a bit disappointing. It looks great but next to some others in the series, it's predominately a placeholder until we finally get to the long-awaited climax. The film opens boldly, "These are dark times, there's no denying," intones Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) in intense close-up, acknowledging the fact that archvillian Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters are on the verge of taking over.

In this installment, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) set out to find the remaining Horcruxes in an attempt to destroy the evil Lord Voldemort. The death of Dumbledore has shaken the wizarding world and the Death Eaters are growing in power. As the dark wizards take control of the Ministry of Magic, good wizards suffer and Harry and his friends find themselves outside the law. The trio exile themselves in an effort to hide from the Dark Lord. His henchmen hunt them across the British countryside with strict orders to bring Harry Potter back to Voldemort… alive.

All three leading stars prove themselves admirably, doing the best they can with the material. Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe, in particular, are good. Unfortunately, some scenes feel rushed and incoherent but despite these issues, this was a quality film at the core and the cinematography is no less than beautiful. There are several creative and dramatic shots throughout the film, so that even if one gets bored, you could just stare in awe at the scenery.

It’s nice to see Ron’s character used as more than just an engine for comedy. We finally see the angst, darker side of Ron. Jason Issacs and Helena Bonham Carter both own every scene they’re in (although they’re sorely underused this time around), with Jason’s completely broken and downtrodden Lucius Malfoy a particularly brilliant turn for him. It's also nice to see character favourites of mine return, Dobby and Luna.

David Yates delivers a jet black tone with effects that are at times breathtaking. Not perfect, but a very impressive ‘beginning of the end’. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 hits cinemas on November 19, while the final Harry Potter film is scheduled for release in July 2011.