Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, John Hurt, Bill Nighy, Tom Felton, Jason Isaacs, Helena Bonham Carter and Jamie Campbell Bower
Director: David Yates
Scriptwriter: Steve Kloves from the novel by J. K. Rowling
Composer: Alexandre Desplat
Cinematographer: Eduardo Serra
Rating: PG 13 for violence
Running Length: 146 minutes
Kids grow up so fast. It seems like only yesterday they were trying to get the hang of their first wand and now they are trying to save the world and each other. Of course the kids I am referring to are the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 brings us that much closer to the end of the franchise and nearly a decade of movie magic. But the question remains; is it any more appealing to the average film goer or is it still a niche audience outing?
Dumbledore is now dead and Voldemort seems to have control over everything. Harry and gang are on the run and witnessing the death and torture of their friends and family. They now must destroy the Horcruxes’ on their own in order to defeat the Dark Lord once and for all. This is certainly not an easy task and not one that you can possibly accomplish in one film. So in this first installment of the final chapter we get that Lord of the Rings type ending where we must wait several more months for it all to wrap up.
This film, even more-so than past installments, is not for someone unfamiliar with the characters and story line. I felt lost through most of it and even though I had a pretty good grasp of who was good and who was bad, the rest was incredibly confusing and at times meandering. But to be fair I talked to several long term fans and they assured me that this one follows the book closer than any have in the past. This will be an encouragement to most Potterites but it will be a detriment to anyone who has not seen the past films or read the novels. The parts I found silly and pointless I later discovered made sense if you have past knowledge.
What I can say is that this is a very dark film; both in theme and in visuals. Many scenes were shot in shadows with little light. What I liked about the last film were all the creative imagery and sets. That was lost in this one due to the lack of depth and film clarity. Let us at least be thankful it is not in 3-D. Also the story is dark and sinister and again has that Lord of the Rings type atmosphere. The Horcruxes had the same effect on Potter as the ring did on Frodo. There is far less humor in this one and the light banter between friends is long gone. Even if that does stay truer to the books I think it takes away from one of the main movie draws of the past.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality. It is certainly made for those 14 and older. The film makers do not hold anything back and the images are intense. Also there is a sinister feel to this one due to Voldemort and his pursuit of Harry. I am positive that this one will be more than appreciated and enjoyed by the die hard Potter peeps but for the average filmmaker who has skipped a few installments it will be confusing and at times tedious. I rate this only for the casual follower and give it 3 out of 5 icy baths. Fans; go and enjoy. The rest of us will look elsewhere.
Review copyright 2010 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.
Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed. This second-to-the-last installment of J. K. Rowling’s book series of a boy wizard fighting evil, leaves you wanting more---and that fans will get in July 2011 as “The Death Hallows: Part II” concludes the seven film/book series.
If you have not read the book, it may take a bit to get into the story. If you have read the books, most of the basic plot is here, though not every minor character. You will know that someone evil (Lord Voldemort) is chasing someone good (Harry Potter), but the “why’s” come slowly. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a wise man in a young man’s body. He, alone, fights the evil of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), though Harry’s companions, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are always nearby. In fact, Part I has Hermione helping Harry escape various times and we see a deep friendship there. The clash of good and evil is well conceived in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, by bringing evil (a grown man) against good (a boy), and surrounding both with allies who bring fear (Voldemort) or fearless (Potter’s friends.) Rowlings has woven a world of imagination, colorful characters and situations, plus enduring friendships. This has kept many a reader captivated well into the night, page after page.
The story has Voldemort and his Death Eaters after the Muggles (humans) and we read of families dying. It is at this point that Harry’s friends band together to protect him, and the chases and narrow escapes begin. Every time Harry finds a hiding place, with Hermione’s help, he is discovered and keeps on running, though taking time to attend a wedding. They must find a sword, destroy the Horocruxes of Voldemort and destroy Voldemort, who is protected by his pet snake the size of a small train. Your favorite characters, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Mad-Eye Moody (Brenda Gleeson), Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), Snape (Alan Rickman), Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) and Dobby the house elf (voice of Toby Jones) are there, plus others. I always miss the Flying Car, but that disappeared about Book Four. Part of the story of Gedric Hallows (where there is a cemetery) is told through a form of stilted animation and this certainly adds to the flavor of the film.
The PG 13 rating is for a torture scene and violence, because Voldemort is on his final run with no mercy. One of the tricks Harry’s friends use to confuse the Death Eaters, is to drink a potion that turns them into replicas of Harry. This has moments of hilarity. Chase scenes include a motorcycle in the air, running through a forest and a water scene. In today’s action films, there is always a shoot-out with guns, but in “Harry Potter,“ the wizards go against each other with wands. Special effects are wonderfully done and some are beautiful, as Hermione puts them in places away from the Death Eaters. Love interests are Hermione and Ron, and Harry and Ginny Weasley, plus the love of the house elves for their masters
I particularly liked the soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat as it has just the right amount of urgency without being overpowering. Eduardo Serra’s cinematography of a winter scene, seaside and countryside bring authenticity to “Harry Potter.”
Filming is completely finished on J. K. Rowling’s book series and we hear of the stars lives after “Potter,“ with Radcliffe’s stage work, Watson in college and Grint doing independent films. Potter fans are closing down to the wire on their favorite storyline, as did the fans of “The Lord of the Rings.” Fans there came through OK. You will, too. Enjoy.
Copyright 2010 Marie Asner
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