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Up until now, I was convinced that from the 4th book onwards, Harry
Potter-books had become too complex to make into film: Goblet of Fire
was a sore disappointment. Order of the Phoenix left many Potterheads
wanting more, even if it wasn't a bad film per se (personally I
thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I felt they left out too much).
Half-blood Prince -while visually stunning- did not capture the
brilliance of the book. With "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", I
think the makers have finally succeeded in crafting a movie that was
both fun to watch for casual viewers while also catering to the needs
of the hard-core fans who know the books by heart. The decision to
split the movie into two parts may be judged as a financial one by
some, but I'm convinced it was the only possible way to make this work.
The movie was cut off at the perfect time as well, having the viewers
yearn for more without being too abrupt.
I don't want to give away anything, so I'll just say this: Hats of to you, David Yates. One can only hope the second installment will continue in the same vein...
It should be wise for people to at least watch the first six films in
order before watching this one, if they haven't read the books already.
With this film, we are slowly but surely bidding farewell to one of cinema's most successful and imaginative franchises. The franchise, like Harry Potter himself, has grown and matured as the years (and films) progress. Part I of the "Deathly Hallows" is ultimately a strong build- up to what will be a triumphant, bittersweet finale for everybody.
I won't waste time trying to talk about the performances, because they are all great and powerful in their own way. Never mind that many of the cast members are very talented veteran British actors (try getting John Hurt, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Imelda Staunton, Jason Isaacs and Bill Nighy in the same film again) - the three young actors who we have come to love and care for following the first film a decade ago, basically carry the franchise on their shoulders, and this film is no exception. Radcliffe looks handsome, Grint looks gruff, and Watson looks gorgeous. They've grown into fine young people.
Screenwriter Steve Kloves doesn't forget to add the mood and gloom to the story as it slowly unfolds, but then again he adds some light humor to the film when it needs it. Bonus points for making this not only a visual spectacle, but also a character-driven ensemble; there's some complex characterization here. Also there's some action which aren't seen on screen, but mentioned by the characters. It's OK, because it's necessary for the brisk pacing, and it's not really that important anyways. Besides, the human mind can imagine these images far more powerfully.
There are many themes in this film. Sacrifice, determination, (obviously) friendship, and above all - acceptance. As the films progressed the films started to gain an increasingly dark momentum - signaling that all hope may be lost. But in the end, will good triumph over evil? Like the film, real life isn't so sure. Also, the fact that the actors and crew are moving on after a decade of making these films - it's also another way of acceptance - the films have ended, they're moving on for the better of their lives/careers. It's real life, and I wish all these promising young actors brilliant lives and careers ahead of them.
"Hallows: Part I" is many parts thrilling, as there are quite a number of intense action sequences. Many of them, of course, are done with well-rendered visual effects, and in this one they just blend in at a natural level without being too jarring. However, the action sequences are perfectly blended in with the gripping, dramatic moments. They don't feel heavy handed and it's beautiful to look at. The animated sequence about the origins of the Deathly Hallows is an absolute masterclass and jaw-droppingly beautiful to both watch and listen. If separated by itself it can win an Oscar for best animated short.
The crew also get their due here. David Yates has gotten a firm grip on the film's direction since directing the fifth and sixth films years ago. The cinematography is stunning and exquisite, and it gives off a certain moody hue to the film. The editing is also crisp, it's not choppy when it doesn't need to be. Alexandre Desplat's score really makes a difference, it literally puts you into the world with its beautiful, harmonious, and emotional tones.
In short, I would have to say that this film is the best "Harry Potter: film yet in all honesty. I grew up with the series, and as per the actors, it will be an emotional goodbye. But rest assured, the finale will be grand.
One more thing. This interpretation of the novel is the best one yet. The novel is done justice, something not seen since the first three films. It's something for both the fans and novel-readers alike, as there are some pieces only book readers can discover while watching the film. It's definitely a huge improvement over "Half-Blood Prince"'s adaptation, which for me is the worst Potter film.
Harry Potter is a phenomenon. But, like all things, it most come to an end eventually. This is the beginning of the end, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Overall rating: 75/100
P.S.:Eat your hearts out, Twi-hards.
A sullen Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) sets the mood
for this seventh and penultimate instalment of Harry Potter. "These are
dark times, there's no denying," he intones gravely, pointing out the
grim state of affairs facing the nation- murders, disappearances and
raids- but reassuring the public, as any politician would, that his
Ministry has it all under control. Of course, he is only bluffing, and
it doesn't take long before the palpable sense of doom and despair
convinces you otherwise.
Welcome back to the magical world of Harry Potter, one that began with wonder and joy, but has since become shrouded in death and darkness. Still visibly distraught from the death of his mentor Professor Albus Dumbledore, Harry is now tasked to continue with the mission of the late Dumbledore- to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes (accursed objects containing fragments of Voldemort's soul). It doesn't get any easier, since Voldemort is nearing the height of his powers, and his bidders have infiltrated the bureaucracy to paint Harry as a wanted criminal.
There are fewer and fewer allies around- even those within the Order of the Phoenix may have since betrayed their ranks- and the first half hour quickly establishes the danger and urgency of the situation at hand. Members of the Order, including Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) and Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), attempt to escort Harry to safety- but even that mission is met with an attack from the Death Eaters, culminating in a dizzyingly exciting high-speed flying-bike chase that shouldn't disappoint fans looking for some action sorely missed in the last movie.
Indeed, naysayers who think David Yates doesn't know how to stage thrilling action sequences should think again, as he demonstrates amply that he is just as capable when it comes to staging them. He also displays an uncanny knack for milking suspense out of scenes- in particular, Harry, Hermoine and Ron's daring raid on the Ministry of Magic and their subsequent visit to Godric's Hollow, Harry's birthplace and home to Bathilda Bagshot, a magician and dear friend to Dumbledore. These brim with nail-biting tension, and Yates plays them out nicely to set your pulse racing at the end.
The crux of this film however lies in the relationships between Harry, Hermoine and Ron as they set off in the middle of the film across the bleak English countryside on their quest to discover the means to destroy the Horcruxes. On the run from Voldemort, the trio find the immensity of their journey taking a toll on them. Harry and Ron's friendship begins to fray as Ron grows suspect of Hermoine's affections for Harry. Meanwhile, Harry can barely conceal his frustration with getting no headway and starts losing his temper at Ron.
Infused with a profound sense of isolation and loss, this middle stretch in the film may be tedious for some impatient viewers, but fans will be rewarded with probably the richest depiction of the relationships between the characters since the first two movies. One scene where Harry and Hermoine suddenly decide to dance together to the tune of Nick Cave's The Children playing on the radio is lyrical in its depiction of their desperate attempt to find levity in a world that affords none. Yes, their friendship strong and deep since the beginning will be tested, and Yates delivers an emotional payoff towards the end of the film that is truly poignant.
Thanks to the decision to split the final book into two films, Yates doesn't hurry through these scenes. Instead, he allows the audience to experience the frustration, jealousy and uncertainty of his characters, and allows for Radcliffe, Watson and Grint to display some fine acting with the minimalest distraction from any visual effects. The additional time also turns out to be a blessing for fans and audiences, allowing them the opportunity to see their favourite supporting characters back on screen- most prominently of course Dobby the elf who returns to give the movie a touching finale.
Amidst the gloom, screenwriter Steve Kloves again provides for rare welcome moments of levity. Harry's escort mission is aided by magical decoys of Harry, one of them wearing a bra. To get to the Ministry of Magic, one needs to flush oneself down a toilet bowl. These occasional sparks of humour enliven a film that is otherwise ominous and menacing. Kloves however fumbles slightly with the lengthy expository, and those who have not read the book will find themselves struggling to catch up with the significance of certain characters (e.g. Sirius' brother, Regulus Arcturus Black) and certain events (e.g. Bathilda turning into a slithering serpent).
Still Kloves never had an enviable task to begin with, and Yates- at his most confident here- guides the proceedings along admirably, unfolding them briskly at the start, then settling in for a deliberately measured pace and finally picking up speed for as much as a climax as this first- parter can have. His assuredness also shows in his artistic choices, especially a wayang-kulit-like animated sequence telling the story of the Deathly Hallows.
Though we know better than to expect the grand showdown between Harry and Voldemort by the end of the film, there is still a distinct sense that what we have seen so far is only a build-up for something bigger and far more astounding. But even as a prelude, this seventh film is notable in its own right, a tense and thrilling experience darker, scarier and more mature than any of its predecessors
After having seen HP6, I honestly didn't have great expectations in
this one. I guessed it would be darker and scarier, as every HP movie
has been darker and scarier than its predecessor. But HP6 was such a
patchwork of scenes that didn't give you the feeling of a coherent work
- I was afraid the even more complex story line of HP7 would make an
even less coherent movie. However, I must say it was definitely a wise
decision to split the 7th book into 2 movies. HP7 can take time to
explain and introduce all the characters that are necessary to the
I love the way Voldemort and the Death Eaters are portrayed in this movie. They are no longer just anonymous caped figures. You can see them interacting with each other, discussing and well... being human. Well, I'm always a big fan of the blurring of these clearcut good/evil categories in Fantasy.
As the book is split into 2 parts, all of a sudden, there's also time for little embellishments I hadn't realized I had missed in the earlier movies! For example, I loved the scene so much where the feather floated through the air when the fairy tale of the Three Brothers was being told. Also the drawing style that was used during the story was really amazing. This HP movie was the first of all that finally gave me the same feeling as Lord of the Rings did: Boy, this is not just some guys slavishly adapting a book into a movie, but they're actually autonomous artists and they have ideas of their own! And I don't mean they changed the whole plot (I wouldn't like that)! But (mostly visually) they did more than just bring across what's in the book.
This also expresses itself in the decision not to include the childish Harry Potter musical theme (at least I didn't hear it, correct me if I'm wrong) from the first movie that sounds like "Wow, everything's so magical here!" That tune was fine for the first movie, but as Harry got older and the movies got darker, it kind of felt like they had to force this theme into every movie several times even though it didn't really fit any more. Now the soundtrack, too, has finally grown up. And I loved it! Last but not least, the acting was brilliant! The tense atmosphere between Harry, Ron and Hermione really came across. Also with all the doppelgänger scenes, you always still saw from their movements and behaviour which character was which though they were in disguise in a different body.
All in all, as the title says, this is a excellent grown-up movie and I can recommend it to everyone - except kids! If you have little kids, please don't take them. This movie has far too many scary scenes and little comic relief! Plus, the plot is quit complex including lots and lots of minor characters. It's really no longer a movie targeted at kids, even though it's still labelled "Harry Potter".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first scenes went something like this: Everyone drinks a nasty potion that makes them look like Harry and they get undressed on camera spouting anti-climatic, fast-paced jokes. Then in what *should* have been an exciting chase-scene, Hedwig plummets to her death. Harry is traumatized. Later he learns Mad-Eyes also died and, not giving him much thought, 'zips Ginny up' in and abrupt oh-so-passionate-scene with as much charisma and heart as a toaster.
Harry then meets a witch who tells him bad things about Dumbledore which he instantly believes even though he's known her for all of, what, ten seconds, and Harry falls into a depression. Kinsgley warns the wedding party (oops, I forget to mention. Ron's brother Bill is getting married. y'know, Bill? That one Weasley child no one ever mentioned or casted? Him.) So, anyways, Voldemort took over the ministry (how exactly we'll never know) and is coming to kill everyone harry cares about (like Ginny. he does care about her y'know. they had their first love scene which lasted five seconds and was witness by George, who had a toothbrush in his ear.)
So Harry, Hermione, and Ron run away because Hermione is a flipping genius who always saves their butts with advanced magic and bottomless purses.
Okay. The action stops here.
Now we are privileged to enjoy stunning landscapes and breathtaking landscapes of famous places all around the UK where the dynamic trio (make that duo: Ron leaves) set up camp. The audience is delighted to be separated from the rest of the plot and action-packed, intense moments happening in the outside world, and instead can focus their attention on the beauty of a certain tree that harry and Hermione are sitting under and discussing the evils of Dumbledore, the man who ruined everything.
Hermione finds a doodle in a book and Harry and Hermione determine it MUST be a hint in a Blue's-Clues like moment of epiphany. Ignoring their new sense of purpose (besides finding lovely lakes to vacation by) Harry risks it all to return to Godric's Hollw and is there (unwittingly) attacked by a snake...lady...thing. They escape (Hermione, cough, cough) and return to their picturesque campsite.
In the middle of the night Harry sees a patronus and, since of course NO ONE wants to kill him, deceive him, maul him, etc. He follows it like a complete nitwit. Luckily his hunch is correct and he arrives at a frozen lake, undresses, and takes a dip. A dark locket proceeds to choke him (why it couldn't choke him above-water, I haven't the faintest idea) but Harry is saved by Ron, who also manages to get his shirt off. With the sword of Godric, the two (still wet) decide to destroy the locket that so fiendishly attempted to strangle Harry (naughty object of darkness and evil).
And then...Ron bears witness to a porn scene between Harry and Hermione who are inexplicably making out naked. (It is a very emotional scene.) Ron, fighting past the ridiculous apparition, smashes the locket to a million pieces and Harry and Ron return to Hermione and Ron spews some nonsense about a bubble of light in his heart.
The three reunited, they reluctantly leave their gorgeous campgrounds to track down a madman in hopes of finding out the mysterious meaning of Dumbledore's Doodle. The madman is only too happy to oblige and tells them it is a very important symbol of a fairy tale, so now that they have this info their problems are over. Next the audience is treated to a Tim-Burton-like animated retelling of said fairy tale that TOTALLY goes with the movie (not). The madman then attempts to capture them but they escape (Hermione COUGH COUGH) but are captured by icky "men" who seem more interested in Hermione than in getting a reward for Harry Potter. The Icky "Men" take the trio to where Voldemort lives but Voldemort is away for the time being and will return momentarily, in the mean time won't you have a seat in this lovely damp prison cell while Bellatrix attempts to torture Hermione by biting her neck or whatever it is that she's doing?
Voldemort doesn't show up (it's a *very* long holiday he's taking and he can't be disturbed) but Dobby does. Dobby's voice has undergone reverse-puberty, but that doesn't matter because Dobby has come to save Harry Potter because Dobby can materialize in and out of places, even the dark Lord's secret hideout.
So Dobby rescues them (Luna and a Goblin in addition to the trio. Her dad was the madman I'm afraid. Yes, sad really how family units are organized.) Anyhow, Bellatrix stands there watching them escape and at the last moment throws a good-old-fashioned dagger into the air where they're disappearing and when they come out the other end Dobby says some lame last words in a girly voice and perishes, with Harry crying unconvincingly. Fade to black and Voldemort pops up (who's taken the failed capture of his worst enemy rather well, given the circumstances) and desecrates Dumbledore's tomb (and Dumbledore is amazingly fresh and un-decomposed) and takes Dumbledore's wand. He shoots a random red flare into the sky that serves no purpose whatsoever and the credits roll. Finally.
Part 2. How exciting!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is not a Harry Potter movie. It is a movie that has characters with the same names and faces but they are in an alternative universe, one created by David Yates starting in movie 5. In that universe, all the themes and ideas developed in the book-based Harry Potter mythology are gone. In its place is a story about an individual boy wizard and his teen friends. What happened to the great choices Harry has to make, like does he go after the Horcruxes as Dumbledore instructed or does he get sidetracked looking for the Deathly Hallows? Horcruxes are thrown in as a McGuffin, an excuse to take a group camping trip rather than as the key to the whole mystery: how do you destroy evil without destroying yourself. The Hallows are the great temptation that the animation in this movie beautifully suggests but then they are completely ignored for the rest of the movies. Remember that Dumbledore and Gregorovich once had a notion of "The Greater Good" and that idea did not die with the end of their friendship. Dumbledore tried to teach Harry that what he was doing was not for himself, it was for the greater good of all beings, not just pure-bloods, and certainly not just for teenagers. Okay, did you get any of this from this movie? NO, because it has all been washed out of the story and replaced with silly teen anxieties and individual relationships. How very sad.
This is not a run of the mill series, but something which has been
intricately planned for from almost the very beginning. With the last
few films crafting the level of suspense into a crescendo, where each
film augments the impending doom and gloom culminating in the finale
seen in The Half Blood Prince, things get a lot worst here from the
start, where The Deathly Hallows begins with a grim reminder from the
Minister of Magic, before we see Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his
ghastly lieutenants plot to take over both realms Muggle or not in
quite Fascist terms.
Yes you read that right, and what I thought was quite the brilliant stroke of genius to transmit that level of fear and dread into the Potter world through something quite familiar in our world, where there's a takeover of ministries and the installation of past villains who are puppets of the regime, the continued discrimination and probable extermination of the ordinary, non magical Muggles and even the half-breeds against those who are of pure magical blood, and a curious scene where a disguised Potter head inside the undergrounds of the Ministry only to see propaganda being created by the masses in creepy, clockwork like fashion.
Everything is doom and gloom with copious amounts of shades, shadows, black and grey (save for Hermione's red dress in one scene), where our heroic trio are quite clueless without their guardian headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) always ready to pull some strings from behind the scenes. His absence is largely felt, and they are left mostly to their own devices and smarts to try and figure out a way to get to the remaining Horcruxes and to destroy them. They become the hunted with little allies to rely on, where betrayal seem the norm, almost from within their own circle of trust as well where a major subplot continues to dwell on the suggested romantic/platonic dynamics between Hermione with Harry and Ron, the former sharing a curious dance sequence while on the run, and the latter, well having his worst fear confront his lack of courage to tell Hermione just how he feels for her, well, from how many films ago.
So the verdict is whether The Deathly Hallows warranted two films. My answer is a resounding, definite yes, because there's so much going on in the story, of the relationships and friendships forged over the years, of the closure both good and bad that has to come to the myriad of characters introduced (J.K. Rowling doesn't show a lot of mercy by the way), and not to mention the inherent quest that Harry, Ron and Hermione chose to embark on that has gone beyond just the survival of Harry Potter, and what's more, introduces to us what those Deathly Hallows actually are, which goes just beyond the destruction of the Horcuxes. Danger lurks at every corner and the narrative spins at breakneck speed, harrowing most times with the frequent close shaves the rookies encounter against their enemies who are growing more powerful by the minute.
While the previous films have boasted special effects extravaganzas be it little things to pepper the scene or large battles between wizards and witches, this is kept surprisingly muted in the film since it's swaying on one end of the spectrum with Evil gaining an upper hand, and most of the effects not already something seen before in the earlier Potter films. But what ultimately leads this film into being the more powerful one, is the strength of the story and how it leads you along the way, building anticipation as we root for positive outcomes as much as possible, with slight comedy punctuating appropriate moments to lift the spirits.
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson all share that perfect camaraderie that's been built over the years, it's no wonder that they add that convincing depth and natural realism to their friendship, with an audience that has largely grew up with them as well. There's no ensemble cast like the one assembled for the Potter franchise, though most of them - Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Bill Nighy, Tom Felton and a long list more - come and go too frequent and too soon, but one hopes the evil Death Eaters do get their spotlight by the time the second installment rolls over.
Chris Columbus may have begun the film franchise and made it a large welcome for the young (especially) and old to embrace J.K Rowling's magical world, but I am of the opinion that David Yates inherited the franchise at the right point from The Order of the Phoenix where things required a consistent hand rather than a rotating director's chair, and developed the franchise into what it is today in quite unassuming terms. Credit also has to go to Steve Kloves who has adapted from Rowling's books (save for the point where Yates came onboard), knowing what best to adapt into the film, and what to leave behind, steering clear of the more cutesy tales and plunging us headlong into Voldemort's return and ascension to power.
You know that this will end in a cliffhanger, and what a cliffhanger it is, whetting your appetite to devour Part 2 as soon as it's released, just so to witness how the film franchise of our generation will fittingly conclude. I can't wait, and I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of fans around the world cannot wait for the next too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Deathly Hallows Part 1" follows the book closely, but misses out on a
few interesting scenes, and then makes up a few additional scenes that
are poignant and incredibly welcome.
In the beginning, it seems like the film's skipping through the book's content very quickly, but it makes sense, when you realise how much is going on. At the end, the beginning is far away, although the journey there doesn't make it seem like a long while.
General opinion seems to be that it drags in the middle, but, let's face it, so did the book. There's no real reason to complain about Endless Camping Trips at all, because the film moves from plot point to set piece to plot point all the time. There's some clever ways the film handles its exposition, although it is not without its faults.
The trio's acting is the second best thing in this film. Emma has improved loads over the past few years, and she seems to be at the top of her game in this film. Her acting is stellar. As usual, Grint gets saddled with the role of comic relief, but he also gets his chance to shine in an array of emotional scenes. Daniel manages to carry the story as the main character. The three manage to stand their own very well without the presence of the adult actors.
Speaking of adult actors, Nick Morran's Scabior is a delightful character - he's slightly perverted and he has a bit of a Jack Sparrow vibe going on. Peter Mullan's Yaxley was impressive and managed to be quite threatening. It is a shame that we see so little of Bill Nighy's character, the new Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. The character was regrettably cut from the previous film, and I wish they hadn't, if only to see more of Nighy's impressive performance. Old-time familiar faces are great, as usual. Fiona Shaw gets but one shot of screen time, but the look in her eyes says so much about her character. Jasoon Isaacs is terrific as a broken and devastated Lucius Malfoy. The lack of Rickman is a shame, but the presence of Bonham Carter makes up for it. Big baddie Ralph Fiennes manages to finally be a menacing, scary Voldemort in the film's first scenes, but as the story progresses and he gets appearances in a few messy, rushed and disappointing visions, Voldemort's actions just don't continue being an ominous cloud of danger, as they should be.
The film's greatest achievement, however, is the animated sequence detailing the "Tale of the Three Brothers", an interesting wizard fairytale. It is a daring move from the filmmakers, one that will pleasantly surprise the audience.
The biggest letdown is how the film doesn't just keep going. After two-and-a-half hours, it doesn't feel like the story's finished. A few scenes were added to make the climax more exciting, but it's just a downright shame that the movie doesn't just continue for another hour or two.
In my mind, the Deathly Hallows Part 1 captured the feeling of exactly
what the Harry Potter movies should have been all along: gritty,
emotional, and cinematic. I haven't been a huge fan of any of the HP
movies to date, but I was pleased with the Deathly Hallows because it
took a big step up in maturity from the "children's fantasy" genre and
focused on themes very central to the seventh book: hopelessness and
After the death of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, the magical world falls into disarray as Voldemort gains power over the Ministry of Magic and hunts tirelessly after his mortal enemy and our continuing protagonist, Harry Potter. While keeping a low cover, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine decide to track down and destroy Voldemort's soul contained in hidden "horcruxes" but have difficulties deciding what to do and where to start.
The Deathly Hallows very successfully portrays the despair-filled journey of the wizarding trio. With dark undertones running through the cinematography, Part 1 of the Harry Potter finale is the film that deals more with the emotional stagnation of the characters and spends less time with action scenes and major plot points. Since Rowling's seventh book is separated into two movies, Part 1 boasts a much slower pace than earlier HP films and is not so focused on cramming as many subplots and side-stories from the book as possible into the movie's runtime, which tends to clutter up the storyline and make the whole thing feel rushed.
But where the slow pacing makes this film stand out in the series, it also may be its downfall. The Deathly Hallows continually feeds us a feeling of desolation as Harry, Ron and Hermoine fail to discover a way to destroy the horcruxes; they seem to be making no progress towards defeating the Dark Lord, but as an effect the movie seems to be making no progress towards an ending. Storyline lags intensely towards the middle of the film and is dragged out until the conclusion (which ends abruptly). You'll be left in your seats feeling like this is going nowhere- but that's the point: Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are getting nowhere. So I liked this movie because the pace was slow, but I also didn't like this movie because the pace was slow. See what I'm getting at? Aside from that, I can't complain much. Performances were fine, effects were impressive, and best of all, nothing dastardly was done to J.K. Rowling's story.
The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a nice improvement and a fine addition to the Harry Potter series and should serve as a solid emotional base for Part 2 to take off with next year. If you've enjoyed the HP movies so far, this should be a satisfying experience at least. If not, let the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 redeem your faith in the series. 7/10
P.S. Keep on the lookout for the scene about the deathly hallows story. It has some of the most beautiful and artistic animation I have ever seen in a movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Right from the very start, when the Warner Bros logo appears, this film
feels different. The colours are gray and muted, the sound is a low
rumble and even the famous theme from John Williams seems to have given
way to a much darker drone. It doesn't even feel like a Harry Potter
movie anymore. It makes the first Chris Columbus movies feel like they
are from a whole different universe. And this feeling stayed with me
right until the end
For the last few instalments of the series
(possibly from number 3 onwards) we've been hearing a lot of "this one
is darker" type of lines being bantered about, whether from the
critics, the fans or even the film-makers themselves. But it's never
been more true than in this final chapter.
And yet, this is not just a darker and scarier film, it is also a much more mature one too. It's as if the film-makers have grown together with their viewers (who are now 10 years older than they were when the first movie got released) A few years ago, when we first heard about the fact that the seventh and final book was going to be divided into two films, we all cynically thought straight away: "They really want to squeeze every single penny out of this last one, those greedy people". And I am sure that must have been one of the reasons, however director David Yates has been able to take advantage of this extra time to give the story a certain amount of depth, sophistication and gravitas that was missing from all the previous instalments.
The pace is a lot slower, for a start. Of course, you get some cracking action scenes too (a particular good one through the Dartfor Tunnel), some great visuals, whether just the perfect vistas and landscapes, the inventive special effects (the scene, in the trailer too, where there are about 8 different Potters, is all done in one perfect 360 degree shot) and there's even a beautiful short animation sequence (where "The Tale of the Three Brothers", is shown as a shadow-play and that by itself should almost be nominated for an Oscar for BEST animated short), but the real core of the movie this time are actually the 3 main characters. Their dialogue scenes take centre stage and are played in the most realistic possible way, with long silences, pauses and meaningful looks.
Even the music is a lot more subtle and understated, aside from being of course a lot darker. There's a particular chase scene in a forest towards the second half of the movie, where unexpectedly, they decided not to play any music at all, just letting the sound effects play through: that is very very unusual for a blockbuster of this calibre.
The film bravely takes a lot of risks, on one hand, by veering away from what kids are probably expecting, but at the same time it'll give fans a real treat (and it might even change the minds of some of those Harry Potter haters)! It is a film about emotions, about characters, about friendship first and foremost and it all happens to take place in a magical world. It's what every single avid Harry Potter reader has been waiting for years.
In a way, the mood of the film is much closer to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, not just in the muted colours of the landscape, or in the grittier looks of the characters (even Harry Potter looks dirtier this time and has even got a bit of a beard!), but in the way it's paced and constructed.
It's essentially a road movie (it's also the first film to be Hogward-free. We only get one quick glimpse of the train going to the school, but that's about it). There are much fewer laughs throughout and most of them come from Ron (Rupert Grint), but somehow when they do come, they seem to work a lot better than they ever did. Maybe because the whole film is so tense that you are just craving for a moment to relax let the tension fade. And this is by no means a criticism, in fact, quite the opposite.
By all means, this isn't a masterpiece. For all the tension, the great atmosphere and all the brave intentions, there are some slightly clunky moments here and there too. For example the scene where Ron comes back and rejoins the group, feels a bit "out of the blue" and could have been handled in a better way. Also some of the dialogue doesn't quite ring true and too many characters come in and out like bell-boys in a hotel. But it's interesting to notice how most of the stuff that doesn't quite work in the film, has actually been lifted straight from the books. I think once again the film exposes the weaknesses of the book (which c'mon let's face it, however gripping, it wasn't really a great piece of writing. I loved it, in fact I loved the whole series, but I recognise its limits).
It's good to see them trying something different. It's good to see them slowing down a bit and taking good care of their characters. It's good to see them trying to be more mature and stir away from cheesy clichés. I can see why this is JK Rowling's favourite movie.
I was happy with it too but then again, I love Harry Potter, so I am probably biased.
Summer 2011 cannot be here soon enough. And after that? Oh dear, I am already so sad that it's all going to be over
See the full review here http://wp.me/p19wJ2-3v
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