Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 15: Zach’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

Guest blogging for us today is friend of the blog Zach Naiman.  Thanks for the great post Zach!

Maybe my expectations for the Harry Potter series have been too high.  Maybe I got too hung up on how far from the books they’ve come and how many story lines were abandoned along the way.  From The Sorcerer’s Stone, where they somehow managed to forget Snape’s riddle guarding the Stone, to changing wizard dueling into Cirque du Soleil sword fighting, to forgetting the massive battle scene at the end of Half-Blood Prince, I’ve been quite disappointed with most of the movies.

It took them six movies to change my mind.  Even though the ending was not as I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed The Half-Blood Prince, so I was ready for another touching movie full of triumph and despair.  The previews tickled my imagination, stirring the feelings I had when I first read the books.

And then I saw the movie.  And it was boring, slow, and drawn out, just like the book!

Wait! You just said the movie was boring?!

Exactly.

The Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books, in fact I consider it J.K. Rowling’s best written novel.  The despair in the pages is palpable; the tension seems to permeate the room as you read.  The movie captures the awkward slow death, utter confusion, and doubt that infects Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they travel throughout Great Britain anxiously trying to decode Dumbledore’s vague instructions.  Whether it is the wide stunning shots of the desolate areas the three travel through or the tension filled scenes running from the Snatchers, you feel what the characters are feeling: raw hopelessness and frantic terror.  Unlike the other movies, director David Yates seems to thrive when he has less of a set description of the scenes.  The cinematography and sound track illustrate the inevitable journey leading to their capture and imprisonment in the Malfoy’s Manor.

As usual, Daniel Radcliffe is a passable Harry.  His strengths seem to rise when he has little to say during the quiet moments of the film.  Rupert Grint and Emma Watson shine in increasingly crucial roles.  Typically the films have shined by selecting incredible actors to play the smaller roles.  This one is no different.  Alan Rickman, Kenneth Branagh, David Thewlis, and Maggie Smith flawlessly portray their parts, not only looking exactly as I imagined but perfectly emanating their mannerisms and characteristics.  Rickman especially seems born to the part.  His slimy, oily-ness seems to leak right out of the screen.  One of my favorite scenes is the animated story of the Deathly Hallows, which is an incredible visually stunning sequence that takes the audience by surprise.  Taken by itself that scene deserved to win awards and is a true testament to the artistic vision of Yates.

The biggest issues I had with the film deal with two points of contention.  The first is the introduction of the fifth Weasley brother, unseen until this point, and conveniently slid into this film without rhyme or reason.  If they wanted to film the wedding scene then why not introduce him in the last film so that we see him attacked by Fenrir Greyback, and have some emotional tie to his character.  The other problem I had was the absence of any feeling when Dobby died.  I wanted to feel something, I truly did.  He is one of my most beloved characters, but the CGI image does not instill any warm and fuzzies.  Perhaps like George Lucas, they should have stuck with the puppets.

Despite its shortcomings, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the best film yet.  The amazing shots of the countryside combined with the above average performances by Grint and Watson raises the level to new heights.  It was an honest tribute to the novels that have captured our hearts.

4 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
Warner Brothers
PG-13, 146 Minutes
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3 thoughts on “Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 15: Zach’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

  1. A lot of what you say here is spot on, especially the randomness of only casting Charlie Weasley for this last movie when we should have met him in Goblet of Fire. Ditto that I wasn’t really crushed when Dobby died, though I did like him very much. Honestly, the only death in DH1 that gutted me was Hedwig.

    And while I agree with your that Alan Rickman was the perfect Snape (disregarding the 30+ year ago difference), I do disagree with the casting of David Thewlis as Remus Lupin. Maybe it was a combination of bad script and bad directing (which was a shame, since the 3rd book was my favorite while the movie is among my bottom three), but Thewlis didn’t seem to exude any of the tragic heroism that I loved about the character. Even here in DH1, he didn’t come alive for me at all. Granted, Rowling gave him a personality transplant in HBP so maybe that’s why I didn’t really care what happened to him at the end of DH2.

    Smiles!
    Lori

  2. To me, in the novels, I saw Lupin as a more loyal and courageous version of Peter Pettigrew. Sirius and James had such strong personalities that in their group dynamic Lupin was just to wrapped up in the fact that he had these best friends who didn’t care he was a were-wolf but actually relished the adventure and hard work it took to become animagus (sp) so they could hang out. I’m not saying it makes him less of a hero, but that his personality was never a leader of men, nor even the 2nd in command, but a strong man to have at your side and perhaps the expendable one? Even at the end you can see he sort of expected to be the one to have died, not James or Sirius, he is so pissed that he’s the last one standing he’s willing to throw himself away. However, I can definitely see what you mean about the 3rd movie, lets just blame on the director!
    Cheers,
    Zach

  3. I just have to step in and say that this movie was the atmosphere-setting one, the real action was to happen in the last one. So I can’t blame it for being a little slow. That said, I don’t think it captures the tension and hopelessness as well as it did in the books. Still I liked it well enough, and enjoyed the finale so much the better because the scene had already been set.

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