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?!
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 StarsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) Warner Brothers PG-13, 146 Minutes