Writes Andrew O'Hehir in Salon:
"…With "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," we reach that lonely stretch near the end of a quest narrative where the heroes must leave the comforts of home behind and voyage through the wilderness, while the long shadow of the enemy hangs over the land. (Frodo and Sam alone in Mordor, of course, though there are numerous other examples.) I'm going to spoil the end of "Half-Blood Prince" for you neophytes right now: Harry's beloved mentor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, in the part originated by the late Richard Harris) has been killed by turncoat Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) under circumstances that remain, ah, somewhat murky. Hogwarts, the cozy-spooky school of witchcraft where so much of the story has been set, has fallen into the clutches of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes in fish-face makeup), who is feeding the staff one by one to his enormous pet snake. The Ministry of Magic in London follows suit, and it appears that Voldemort will soon subjugate both the realm of magic and the non-magical Muggle world to his pseudo-Nazi rule.
"…At the risk of hijacking this review onto a meta-geeky tangent, I'm interested in people's reactions to the fact that Rowling uses her Dark Lord, whose name is so scary most people won't utter it, as a more-or-less regular character (with an unfortunate resemblance, at least in his movie form, to the Creature from the Black Lagoon). J.R.R. Tolkien's Sauron never appears in person in "The Lord of the Rings," although he is said to possess a physical form, and it's fair to say that over the years Satan has been highly inconsistent about this. In some Christian fables and folk tales (and in Milton's "Paradise Lost") he shows up as a charismatic, articulate fellow -- he is a fallen angel, after all -- whereas more recently he seems to prefer the Too Scary to Be Seen mode. How do you like your Dark Lord: Comic-book supervillain with gills, or numinous hostile entity?…"