Ror Reviews: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
I liked the trailer, but still sort of went to see this under duress. So click for a non reader of the books, non fan of the movies take on this penultimate instalment in the hugely popular Harry Potter series. Some spoilers included..
I was never a big fan of these movies to be honest. Some I enjoyed, some I didn't, some bored me to tears. I guess its the mishmash of writers/directors. The movies just never gelled for me as a progressive story. I was also never a big fan of the trio of young actors cast in the lead roles, and thought that they were too inconsistent, convincing in some scenes/movies and not others. The last film in the series, The Half Blood Prince, was one of the ones that bored me. I couldn't actually tell you one thing that happened in it of consequence aside from the finale in which Dumbledore(Michael Gambon) is killed. So for that reason, along with the fact that this next movie was directed by the man behind the last one, David Yates, I was fairly sceptical.
This one starts with a bang. After Bill Nighy's opening monologue we know that this is going to be a very dark outing and it gets right into it as Harry and co are attacked by Death Eaters in the stormy night sky. We lose Mad Eye Moody(Brendan Gleeson) and more characters are seriously injured. After this things quiet down considerably and as Harry, Hermione and Ron set off as fugitives from Voldermort's new regime(all very Nazi like) we are into road movie territory; a first for the franchise. This middle section sees the trio journey through forests and mountains, all the while being manipulated by a horcrux(a pendant with malevolent power..yes its all a bit LOTR) and has been criticized for being too slow and dragged out. It is very slowly paced, but I feel it works. The characters are given time to interact on a base level and there are some inspired scenes as jealousy takes over Ron, and Harry and Hermione grow closer. There are some good set pieces along the way too, as they infiltrate The Ministry Of Magic(now under Voldemort's power) in disguise and take on a giant snake. When the final scenes come they do sort of come out of nowhere. After a skirmish with Bellatrix Le Strange(Helena Bonham Carter) and Lucious Malfroy(Jason Isaacs) a "main" character is killed. But as important a role this little fella may have played in the books, in the films he has appeared literally 3 times. Its just not enough to make us feel as sad as Yates clearly wants us to. And for me, didn't work as a dramatic climax, even with the final part still to come. I was also disappointed that my favourite characters like Snape(Alan Rickman), Lupine(David Thewlis) and Bellatrix are reduced to cameos. I realize that with so many characters to juggle that its an inevitability, but I couldn't help but feel a little less time in the tent with Harry and a bit more with the supporting characters would have better served the film.
So, onto the performances. It goes without saying at this point that the likes of Ralph Fiennes, John Hurt, Robbie Coltrane and all of the older actors I have mentioned do a great job, as they always do. What about those damn kids? They really appear to have fully grown into their roles here. For pretty much the first time all 3 convinced me in every scene. I don't know if it was the sharper script, or the cutting back on the sillier attempts at humor but I was pleasantly surprised. Rupert Grint(Ron) has always been used as comic relief and the small amount of humor in this film does go to him to deliver, the difference is, this time its actually funny! Emma Watson(Hermione) has always been the most naturally gifted actor of the 3 imo and does a great job with some pretty heavy scenes. And Daniel Radcliffe shines as The Boy Who Lived, finally delivering the performance he has teased as for so long.
This is by far the best of the series for me. Some will find the pacing off and some scenes don't work as well as others but overall I really enjoyed it. I am officially excited for the final film, and if its lives up to the promise shown in this first part, I may have to rethink my "not a big fan" status.
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