Sunday, November 28, 2010

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

I've read all the books. I know how this is all going to end. Part of me keeps wishing these were not the last two Harry Potter movies ever to be made. After seeing the first part of the two-part 7th and final installment of J.K. Rowling's literary creation, part of me think it's time for Harry, Ron and Hermione to step down.

Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves remained remarkably faithful to the book throughout Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 which results in a mixed bag of cinematic fare. After the death of Albus Dumbledore (seriously if you don't know this spoiler then you won't be watching this movie) in the 6th film, the overall tone of the series turns even darker in the final installment. The movie is set completely outside the walls of Hogwarts and focuses on the three main characters and their search to destroy several Horcruxes (objects that contain pieces of Lord Voldemort's soul). The first and last quarter of this movie are excellent and feature fast-paced action and killer special effects. You can really appreciate how far the Potter series has come and how it has entered the realm of other classic sci-fi / fantasy films. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have all grown nicely into their leading roles.

The problem with the movie as a whole though is the middle two quarters (half) of the story. We find Harry, Ron and Hermione milling about in the woods and camping out several times with some heavy plot exposition. It's all really REALLY boring and completely takes the wind out of the film's sails that was built up so nicely in the opening act. Kloves even decided to put in an awkward spontaneous dancing scene with Harry and Hermione that was not in the book. I found myself losing interest during this middle portion of the film and thankfully was treated to an outstanding final sequence that almost made up for the central snooze fest in the woods.

I suppose my criticism of this movie (barely 3.5 out of 5 JRs) stems mostly from the source material. The first part of the final book is rather boring at times and that transitions to the screen during a faithful adaptation. I feel that Yates has mastered the sinister portrayal of Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters and I wish more of the book focused on that evil side of the story. I'm hoping that Part Two of The Deathly Hallows improves upon this film and that the Harry Potter series can get the cinematic send off it deserves. As it stands, The Goblet of Fire is still my favorite Harry Potter movie (and book).

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