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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The first part of the two-part finale to the Harry Potter franchise released in 2010.

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Succeeds, but not without failure.

  • Nov 26, 2010
                So after an unsuccessful attempt at rallying a large group together to go see this film (stupid Thanksgiving holiday), I opted to go with a few frat brothers late last night. Of course I was dressed up all day as a Hogwarts Ravenclaw student (faux blue-striped tie and all) amping myself up the whole day. Plus I’ve been reviewing the Deathly Hallows by listening to the audio book (which is extremely well done) and was ready to test the loyalty of the book’s realization on film. Needless to say, I had very high expectations.
                The movie began and was off and running and I could already tell that the entire film was going to be one thing right after the next. The first scenes were quite well done and successful in establishing the tone for the next two-and-a-half hours. I really liked the preparatory scenes leading up to the Order’s arrival at Harry’s home. The sacrifices Hermione, Ron, and the rest had to make were clear and the portrayal of their significance lent itself quite effectively to the gravity of the journey ahead. Here is where Desplat seemed to show some sensitive care in the score. The ambush by the Death Eaters was exciting and particularly thrilling when Voldemort was thwarted by Harry’s wand and the electric towers lit up and crashed with Voldemort’s fury. Unfortunately, the subsequent scene in which the Order apparates two-by-two to the Burrow was done a little too casually. Yes, Remus interrogating Harry was briefly intense; however, the overall tone of everyone’s safe arrival should have been felt with more impossibility. Mr. Weasley apparating and walking towards the house as if he’d just returned from a nice walk is not appropriate in the context of what had just happened. Furthermore, the scene where Fred and George have their little exchange was treated with more attention than the news of Mad-Eye’s death. Even the toast to Mad-Eye (which is supposed to come right after) was excluded. He was a powerful auror and a role model for Harry, yet the audience never gets a chance to understand the significance of his loss. It also foreshadows more impending deaths, so it should be made clear to the audience that these deaths are not just numbers, but that they truly affect Harry and his struggle to keep hope alive.
                After the wedding party is disrupted and the three protagonists disapparate to London, making their way to a diner where they apprehend two Death Eaters, obliviating their memories was, again, given too much attention when the focus should have been on how they were able to find them so quickly (later we are supposed to find out from Ron that they were tracked because they uttered Voldermort’s name which has become jinxed, alerting the Death Eaters to the utterer’s location in an instant, but the film fails to mention that later on upon Ron’s return to the trio). When they end up in Grimmauld Place, the scene in which Hermione tries to teach Ron Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” was a minor, albeit all too familiar, annoyance. There is a plethora of classical melodies to choose from, yet it seemed the producer/director was too lazy to think beyond a simple cliché. When Kreacher returns with Mundungus AND Dobby, I was so perplexed. Dobby never appears until he rescues them in the cellar of the Malfoy Manor much later. Yet there he was. The only reason I can think of to justify his early cameo was for minor comedic relief. And so, I began to notice another trend…
                The whole sequence where they infiltrate the Ministry was entirely and inaccurately mistreated. The blatantly nervous and fearful trio treading through the Ministry under disguise is the complete opposite of what the book tells, which is a determined and concerted effort preceded by weeks of preparation and carefully calculated steps to retrieve the locket. Moreover, the polyjuice potion never wore out while they were in the Ministry, otherwise they would have surely never escaped had they been glanced at, as they were in the film. This venture was supposed to be a sign of the trio’s maturity and display of their combined efforts despite the disadvantage of receiving no aid from the Order, but, once again, Yates decides to glaze over another important character-building device.
                The scene where Harry and Hermione try their wands at the locket was pretty cool, only because there has been a serious drought of magical display of any kind in the past recent films, so I’m glad at least that necessity has made itself clear to Yates. After Ron storms off and leaves the other two, the scenery to which the audience is treated is quite beautiful. It gave a sense of broad and overbearing scope to their journey. When Harry tries to cheer up Hermione from her obvious state of depression with some dancing, I quietly grew with frustration and agitation. This sorely misleads the audience into believing there is a possible attraction between the two that is anything other than platonic when there is not. I would have been able to tolerate the scene if Harry had just said, “I love you like a sister, I hope you know that.” But of course there HAS to be at least a modicum of romance thrown in somewhere to complete the modern movie trifecta of drama, sex, and action. Are we forever forced to witness the abandon and subjugation of story-telling for superficial satisfaction?
                I was pretty happy about the following sequences where Harry and Hermione travel to Godric’s Hollow and Ron saves Harry and pulls the sword of Godric Gryffindor. The releasing of the locket was also quite grand and effective. Sadly, when Ron explains how he found the two, his words were morphed into a sappy speech that translated into comedy, rather than earnest relief. After Ron is reunited with the other two and has a brief moment with Harry, sitting in front of the jar of light, it was the most opportune moment for Harry to clarify his feelings about Hermione, but that chance was quickly wasted and we may never see the much needed resolution of the tension that lingers between the two, where of course the book resolves it as soon as Ron destroyed the locket.
                I very much enjoyed the animation sequence of the story of the three brothers. It was certainly one of the coolest scenes in the whole film. The next several sequences were done well, all the way up to the trio’s capture, delivery to, and escape from the Malfoy Manor. But when Harry announces that he wishes to bury Dobby properly without magic, I was embarrassed by such a poor writing decision. In the book, Harry doesn’t announce anything, but rather, just begins digging, and he does this alone. Here is another example of how the death of a close friend is supposed to give Harry supreme grief, yet the whole solemnity of that burial scene is relegated to Shakespearean treatment. The audience needs to see how much Harry suffers not only because of the arduous journey that Dumbledore has set upon him, but also because of the risk the he puts on his friends and loved ones and how he has to wrestle with such unbearable responsibility. We get none of the sort at all. Finally, the last scene in which Voldemort desecrates Dumbledore’s tomb and acquires the Elder Wand did little to excite me for the last installment of the film franchise.
                Despite my many criticisms, I think this film was about as good as it could have been given the vast details and plot devices in the final book. The script and sequences were more or less loyal to the text and was paced pretty well; it definitely didn’t feel like two-and-a-half hours at all, but that credit is due more to Rowling than Yates. The score by Desplat was good and never distracting, but failed to be anything more than functional and was not memorable (I feel a composer of John Williams’ caliber is necessary to really enhance the epic nature of the last two films as he did with the first three). The acting overall was good, but Radcliffe still suffers a bit from over-dramatizing some of his lines. This is also a great improvement from what Yates did with Half-Blood Prince which was regretfully flat and the audience was cheated out of every satisfaction to be had.
              I hope Part II really, really hits a home-run. 

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November 27, 2010
wow! I am impressed as to how far you went into the film. I am featuring this review!
November 27, 2010
Thanks! I seldom have time to review films as thoroughly as I like, but I very much enjoy writing them when I do.
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Tu Nguyen ()
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About this movie


  • Opens Friday, November 19, 2010 | Runtime:2 hr. 27 min.
  • PG-13
    For some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images
  • Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort's immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort's Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry -- even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman
  • Director: David Yates
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Poster art for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: An IMAX 3D Experience"
  •  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I is a brooding, slower-paced film than its predecessors, the result of being just one half of the final story (the last book in the series was split into two movies, released in theaters eight months apart). Because the penultimate film is all buildup before the final showdown between the teen wizard and the evil Voldemort (which does not occur until The Deathly Hallows, Part II),Part I is a road-trip movie, a heist film, a lot of exposition, and more weight on its three young leads, who up until now were sufficiently supported by a revolving door of British thesps throughout the series. Now that all the action takes place outside ...
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