A reviewgitation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I with
Direcow, Kakita and Korgath
It’s hard to believe that the end of an epic movie series (the first of its kind, I reckon) is nigh, but with the penultimate Harry Potter movie now done and dusted, it’s almost time to close the book (pun intended) on one of the most successful movie adaptations in recent memory.
If you haven’t heard about Harry Potter – which cave were you hiding in?! This is perhaps a huge reason for the success of urban fantasy today (and hence also the cause of Twilight), and the Harry Potter series has grown from strength to strength. It’s no Pulitzer Prize winner and I doubt it’ll ever win an Oscar for best movie, but at the very core is a largely enjoyable series and something that has entered mass consciousness (and personally I am a small Potter fan, I queued up for the final book launch and own a hat that says “Muggle” on it). Minor spoilers ahead!
The film opens on one of the most dramatic and depressing opening sequences Rowling has ever written – reminiscent of the previous movies, where each successive introduction since Goblet of Fire has taken on a distinctively darker tone. This one is particularly tear-jerking as we see Hermione, magically gifted despite her Muggle origins, casting Obliviate on her parents in the midst of Voldemort’s war on humanity. This powerful scene, which sees Hermione’s existence being essentially wiped from her parents’ memory, sets the stage for the rest of the story – it’s anyone’s guess (who hasn’t already read the book) who’s coming back alive.
The tones of the Harry Potter series have definitely been getting darker with each book – and I think it’s definitely the first movie series to do a proper 7 parter. We’re not talking loose sequels like those Scary Movie… movies, and everything else that has tried hasn’t come close, be it Narnia or even Lemony Snicket, which sadly didn’t get past the first book. While Lord of the Rings was amazing – it definitely didn’t do 7 movies (but we might just get 2 more with The Hobbit.)
I much prefer the dark and serious tones of the later books. The earlier books were much too light for me, and I appreciate the severity of the books as the teens (and readers) transitioned through adolescence.
Part 1 takes a distinctively slower pace than its predecessors due to it’s luxury of time to tell the tale. One would think that, after years of griping that some of the books’ best moments are cut from the film adaptations (the worst culprit being the explanation behind Snape’s nom de plume as The Half-Blood Prince is completely discarded) one would appreciate the distinctly faithful plot of this movie, now that it can stretch beyond the original 2 hour limit. Unfortunately, by being as true to the book as possible, the movie results in long stretches of redundant plot, exposing Rowling’s weakness for pacing. In particular, the transitions between scenes seem almost perfunctory, as if there was little thought in what would drive the characters from one location to another.
I do agree. As someone who hasn’t read the book yet (I hear gasps from the shocked readers), I definitely could have done with at least 15-20 minutes of showtime that could have been edited or cut.
But even even those who have read it, like me, might have forgotten most of the fine detail of it given the time since the book’s release. Still, watching those moments finally come to life is amazing. I would have to agree some of the parts of the movie felt like advertisements for grand scenery, to show Emma Watson in a new outfit or to just pad out a bit of time. Some have said that those moments did add depth to their relationships, but given 6 movies of history already adding to that and how rushed some of the other scenes felt, it all seemed unnecessary.
One thing that pleasantly surprised me was Dobby. First up, I like my elves tall and Legolas-ey, so a stunted and wrinkled house elf is not how I would’ve called it. To add on to that he was always used as comic relief in the earlier books/movies, and I hated how that was his only role in the plot. That he is able to contribute so significantly, and comport himself so well in this last book (or second last movie) does wonders to redeem himself in my eyes; he has achieved a grudging respect that other comic relief characters (Jar Jar Binks anyone?) have not.
Although by the end of the film, Dobby the House-elf (voiced by Toby Jones, whom I’m totally looking forward to as Arnim Zola in the Captain America movie) will definitely have redeemed himself in the eyes of the Potter faithful, and become a hero in his own right, the star of the film is undoubtedly Emma Watson as Hermione Granger.
Watson builds on the fantastic layering of Hermione Granger’s character already expressed in The Half-Blood Prince and manages to bring a palpable amount of emotion and charm to every scene she’s in. There are moments in the movie where you suddenly realise that she is every bit a woman, resplendant in her synthesis of logic and feeling, and in the very next moment, you realise she is also every bit a hormonal teenager. For those of us who literally watched Emma Watson grow up, you feel like a proud parent, seeing how she turned out.
I totally agree – but I just find it really weird that they had to focus on her Burberry’s deal or something of that sort, given the sheer number of outfit changes she had. She looks amazing and positively glowing in each of them (or silly in the workblouse and skirt), and we know it’s a bag of holding, but in such a dangerous situation, is a new fashion ensemble everyday really so important? That got pretty ridiculous.
Hey… It’s a bag of holding. Deal. Anyway I always thought that Emma Watson was the best of the three. But then again I also always preferred Hermione and Ron to Harry Potter.
Rupert Grint does a pretty darn good job himself. Not to say that Daniel Radcliffe is a bad actor by any shot, there just doesn’t seem to be as much nuance in his character as in Rupert’s or Emma’s.
Yeah, there’s only so far you can go with the Chosen One character arc I suppose. The fact that they don’t have such a great destiny in front of them actually did Ron and Hermione benefit as they have a lot more depth in their human-ness.
Then again, this is probably one of the few times that I felt Harry’s mortality. With the dark tones of the last book and the number of obstacles thrown in front of him it really does seem that he might still falter and lose to Lord Voldemort; even as the chosen one. That I actually worried if the good guys would triumph at the cliffhanger is a sign that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) succeeded in what they came here to do: make people want to watch part 2.
All in all, a respectable attempt at a difficult task – to make a movie of what is essentially a transitional step. Director David Yates does this even-handedly, by balancing further characterisation with awesome stand-alone action sequences. A worthy addition to the Potter film series. 7.5/10.
I feel that this was a decent movie, but not something that is a must watch unless you’re a Potter fan. Stilted timing and blithe adherence to the book probably make this a poorer movie that it could’ve been. Still, a good use of your movie buck. 7/10
Having already watched it twice, and not falling asleep in the first try (winning it bonus points), there is enough going on to keep you on your seat. Still, a lot of the minor characters who are also well loved are left behind, the pacing could use with a bit of work, but there feels like there’s a lot of love behind this, and it shows. 8/10