Did you hear? The first installment of the last Harry Potter movie is out this weekend! What do the critics have to say? Spoiler: Bring a Red Bull. And what’s the deal with the Harry and Hermione kiss?
Many first reviews say the film is dark and boring, and leaves viewers wishing Part 2 wasn’t scheduled to hit theaters in July:
TIME’s Richard Corliss: “No potion can alchemize this tattered fabric into a ripping yarn.”
ChicagoNow: “This magician’s either out of tricks or frustratingly saving them for next time.”
Daily Mail: “There’s precious little sweetness and light around in this episode”
TVNZ: “Dark, bleak, moody and melancholy are just a few words to describe this, the penultimate outing from Harry Potter as the final curtain draws ever closer. Another would be long.”
Sydney Morning Herald: “…we find ourselves, once again, lumbered with the onerous task of having to endure yet another plodding, poorly plotted, immensely overlong adventure.”
So is a little negative buzz this going to turn viewers away? Nope. Readers of Mugglenet (the ultimate news source for Potter devotees) who got advanced screening to the film loved it, and series scribe J.K. Rowling said it’s her favorite yet. The franchise has taken in a cool $5.4 billion already, making it the most successful film franchise ever, so there’s no indication that followers will bail without taking saying their (almost) good-bye.
Not all buzz was negative – the Chicago Tribune says “The story-within-the-story regarding the deathly hallows is visualized by way of shadow-puppet style animation, and the effect is quite beautiful.” And as usual, the A-list batch of supporting actors earn their pay. (See TIME’s photo gallery of The Great British Thespians of Harry Potter.)
But one thing that might throw readers off is a Harry/Hermione kiss. It’s old news that they filmed a smooch – there is a scene in the book where an imaginary image of Ron’s best friend and girlfriend locking lips is meant to turn Weasley against the other two peas in his pod. But movie critic Roger Ebert uses the words “in love” and “almost nude” (!) to describe the relationship between the hero and the brainiac.
Ebert admits he’s no expert on the intricate Potter plot, so maybe he’s just taking a peck out of context. But if Harry and Hermione are up to something, there’s a red-headed Chaser that’s going to be pretty upset.