Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows:  Part One
 
Here, in the long-awaited semi-finale to the enormously successful series of novels made into movies, our trusty trio of neophyte magicians, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) have graduated from Hogwarts School , just in time for a  resurgence in power of the evil Voldemort.  This feels like “The Empire Strikes Back”:  the Dark Side seems to hold sway over the whole universe, and our pitiful little band of rebels are chased down relentlessly, and are in exile, hiding, or have simply given up the fight.  Fortunately for these three, they can synergize and do a disappearing act at will, by just imagining the place they’d rather be at that moment.  Wouldn’t that be convenient?  A foretaste, perhaps, of travel in the Christian afterlife where time and space are no longer constraints?
Ah, but though we’re definitely striving against the forces of evil here, there’s no real leader of the good guys.  Harry Potter seems to be their only hope, and right now he’s suffering from bad dreams and squabbles with old friends.  The dark powers seem to find him no matter where he tries to hide.  Ron duels with a particularly difficult talisman that forces him to face his greatest fears, including that Harry and Hermione will be so interested in each other that he becomes irrelevant.  Hermione, for her part, still has a better memory than both of the others put together, and this comes in handy for quick incantations on the run.  But she can’t seem to make up her mind which guy she really likes, and that remains confusing to everyone.  Suddenly we’re without the context of all their immediate families, and the Hogwarts School where they were nurtured as young wizards.  Now we have a lot of chase scenes, with evil suddenly crouching at the door, appearing like a ravenous lion, seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).
It seems there are three essential talismans that everyone wants:  the most powerful wand, the “resurrection stone,” which allows communication with those who have “passed to the other side,” and the invisibility cloak.  Wait, come to think of it, Jesus used all three of those:  think of the stilling of the storm, the Transfiguration conversation with Moses and Elijah, and the post-resurrection appearing and disappearing in the middle of a locked room----and, of course, the powers of the darkness always encircling:  it’s amazing how many inferences there are, even in a supposedly secular work.
The three principals are no longer children; they’re young adults.  They seem less innocent now, less coltish and adolescent in their behavior, and more inclined to follow their own instincts, all part of the natural process of growing up.  But this particular installment (there will be a Part Two Finale) seems overly dark and dreary.  Nobody’s having any fun, and we’re past both the childhood naiveté and the teen angst.  The whole series is starting to fold in on itself; assuming much familiarity, and loyalty, from its viewers.  The neophyte will find little to understand, much less root for, and even the hard-core fan will know that the story still isn’t finished yet.  Nothing like a feeling of “to be continued” at the end of a movie: like we haven’t gotten our buttered popcorn’s worth.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas