Is 'Harry Potter 7' only for hardcore fans?

The latest installment in the wizard movie franchise makes no attempt to bring casual fans up to speed, say critics. Is it worth watching anyway?

In the running for "most incomprehensible movie of the year"?
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The seventh and penultimate installment of the Harry Potter movie franchise hits theaters this weekend, and mostly positive reviews are flooding in. But nearly all critics agree that newcomers to the series may have trouble following the complex plot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which is based on the seventh and final Potter book. Should the uninitiated bother buying a ticket? (Watch the Harry Potter trailer)

The movie is only for the most dedicated Muggles: If you aren't an expert on the Potter series, at least read the book first, says Nigel Andrews at the Financial Times. The film will seem like "virtual gobbledegook" otherwise and leave you "delirious with boredom." Even "addicts" might find the pace slow and dialogue stilting.

"Film releases: November 19"

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Casual Potterphiles can skip this one: "If you lack at least a moderate degree of immersion in the Potter canon," says Andrew O'Hehir at Salon, "then this movie seriously isn't for you." And don't think skimming a Wikipedia entry or two ahead of time will help.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: Harry Potter goes dark"

The plot is beside the point: Even those familiar with Potter lore may not be able to keep track of what's going on, says Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times. But the film "depends more on mood and character" than plot.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"

Ignore the naysayers: Bewildered or not, says Mike Ryan at Vanity Fair, you will still enjoy the movie. Although this installment "drags a bit in the middle," there are enough action scenes and humorous moments to amuse even "Harry Potter neophyte[s]."

"Is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 the best Harry Potter film? (and 24 other urgent questions)"

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