Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not a big Harry Potter fan.
I don't dislike the character, or the franchise - I'm more of a casual viewer of the movies than I am a full-on participant in the Potterverse. I know enough and have seen the movies to have an appreciation for them. I'm not a big fan of Rowling's prose, but that's more of my own preferences than anything to do with her writing style.
However, having just seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Harrows, Part One (literally - saw it at a midnight showing, and I'm writing this review less than twelve hours later), I can honestly say that it's not only a strong film (as well as a great "part one"), but it's actually done something that very few films do - it's encouraging me to seek out Rowling's work and revisit it.
Part of it is the very nature of the plot - Deathly Harrows could be easily dismissed as "continuity porn" (referring back to several other stories, most notably Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), but the script handles these references in a clever way that does not feel like needless exposition - having some working knowledge of the past helps, but most of the other Harry Potter movies are already on DVD. It's also a very strong, very dark film, both in terms of composition and theme, dealing with the corruption of the Ministry of Magic, and with Harry, Hermione and Ron on a quest to find - and destroy - a series of magical talismans.
(Yes, I know there's more detail and there's a lot that I'm not mentioning - I'm not a regular visitor to the Potterverse, and I'm writing this to be of general interest to everyone on the site).
As a part one of a two-part movie, most of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is mostly set-up....but it does so beautifully. Several scenes work well onscreen, such as a scene involving magical duplicates of Harry, and a nice, touching dance scene with Harry and Hermione. Even though the color palate is darker than past movies, it serves to build an otherworldly quality to the film, drawing in the viewer and really making it a great viewing experience. This is also one of the most emotionally affecting films I have seen, from the initial scenes involving a spell by Hermione to several key moments involving all three.
Several reviewers have noted that the cast are "no longer kids", and that some of the material created for the screen reflects that. At its heart, Deathly Hallows is about taking on adult responsibilities, and the realization that there are some decisions and actions which are inevitable. It also focuses on changing relationships and changes in friendships - we have seen Harry, Ron and Hermione "grow up" onscreen, and now, their relationships are becoming increasingly more complicated, with complex feelings arising from all. Granted, some may feel that this content is not appropriate for children...but in my opinion, it makes for great family viewing.
Finally, although all of the acting is pretty strong, special attention must be paid to Emma Watson as Hermione. In short, she pretty much dominates the movie, serving as a critical foil to Daniel Radcliffe's Harry. Rupert Grint also gets a pretty good turn as Ron Weasely, playing the "odd man out" at various times. In short, it's the dynamic of these three actors moving slowly into more mature and complex onscreen relationships that give the movie a needed lift.
Granted, there is one drawback - the length. It's a movie that has some sequences that drag on for a little too long. Yes, it's an epic, and the books are not known for brevity, but this is one film that could have used 15 - 20 minutes cut out to make it much tighter.
As a non-Potter fan, I can't speak to how this movie relates to a book. As a general fan of fantasy movies, I can say that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a great start to the holiday blockbuster season.
See it. Now.
And as always, keep watching!
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general information, please visit his blog at blogthispal.blogspot.com.
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