When it comes to matters of box-office bucks, a film like "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" is pretty much critic-proof. Its opening gross is usually insulated from critics tapping away at keyboards far removed from theaters where fans tote broomsticks and battle with faux-magical wands in the aisles.

Just try keeping those cosplayers at home. But, regardless of critical opinion — which just so happens to be largely positive — "Deathly Hallows" is shaping up to have one of the biggest openings ever. Prognosticators are eyeing a debut in the range of $130 million, good for the top "Potter" opening in franchise history and fifth place on the all-time list. And, as fans rush out to the multiplex in the opening hours in much the same way that Twilighters do, "Part 1" has a shot at besting "New Moon" and its $72.7 million first-day gross last year.

But should you brave the long lines and the frenetic energy of "Potter" obsessives? Do yourself a favor and check out what the critics are saying before you begin drawing a Harry-esque lightning bolt on your forehead.

The Story

" 'Deathly Hallows' is immensely satisfying. Nonetheless, things are gloomier than ever before: Harry, Hermione and Ron (Rupert Grint) are adrift; their anchor, Hogwarts, is no longer a safe haven. 'I must be the one to kill Harry Potter,' says the evil Voldemort, at the beginning of the film, setting the stage for the ultimate standoff. Dark forces amass against Harry and his allies, the Order of the Phoenix, who assemble for a thrilling skyborne escape early in the film. The fearless trio invades the Ministry of Magic in amusingly frumpy grown-up disguise, searches for Horcruxes (pieces of Voldemort's soul, to be used against him), spends a little too much time camping, and leaves you wishing 'Part II' were coming next week, not next summer." — Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times

What If You Haven't Read the Books?

"Though I've seen all the films, there were times when I had no idea what they were talking about. Indeed, there are times when Hermione has to explain to Harry. My cluelessness didn't bother me, because the film depends more on mood and character than many of the others, and key actions seem to be alarmingly taking place off-screen." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Comparison to Earlier "Potter" Flicks

"Not that 'Deathly Hallows' is grim, exactly. But it is, to an unusual and somewhat risky degree, sadder and slower than the earlier films. It is also much less of a showcase (or bank vault, as the case may be) for the middle and senior generations of British actors. Many of the familiar faces show up — including Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange, and, of course, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape — but they move along after a scene or two. ... The movie, in other words, belongs solidly to Mr. Radcliffe, Mr. Grint and Ms. Watson, who have grown into nimble actors, capable of nuances of feeling that would do their elders proud. One of the great pleasures of this penultimate 'Potter' movie is the anticipation of stellar post-'Potter' careers for all three of them." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

The Dissenters

"The decision by David Heyman (who has produced all the films), Steve Kloves (who's scripted all but one) and David Yates (who will have directed the last four of the eight) to cut the final book into two features — whatever its sense as a business strategy — meant slowing the story down just as it should rev up. Instead of scooting like a Golden Snitch during a Quidditch championship, 'DH1' is struck with a long spell of aimlessness, and the viewer with the curse of ennui." — Richard Corliss, Time

The Final Word

"Ultimately, this movie's not for Muggles like me — it's for the millions and millions of Harry Potter fans who, quibbles aside, will welcome its arrival as a blessed event. It's evidence of how happily critic-proof these movies are that even the Warner Bros. logo — rendered in what looked to be rusting iron — was applauded when it appeared on the screen. After the movie, as the credits began to roll (to Alexandre Desplat's conventional but nonetheless transporting score), the girl on my left — perhaps 15 or 16 — whispered tearfully to her companion: 'So good. God, I can't wait for July.' That's all the critical analysis this movie needs." — Dana Stevens, Slate

Check out everything we've got on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1."

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