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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

3 December 2010 by Baldy 2 Comments
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

2010, Dir. David Yates
146 min., Rated PG-13.
Starring: Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Bill Nighy, et al.

Review by Baldy

Okay, it was opening weekend for the biggest golden goose Hollywood has ever seen. Much as it galls some folks to admit, the premiere weekend for the last (kind of) Harry Potter flick ranks right up there with Star Wars for hype and anticipation. People have read the books, they’ve seen the previous films, they know what’s going to happen and they want to see how it’s DONE. Before they go in they have already judged everything based on what they’ve seen in previews and leaked clips. No pressure, right?

“These are dark times, there is no denying…”

But first, PREVIEWS!

1. Nobody gives a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut that Christie Digital thinks they have superior picture and sound, or that they use “green technology” when they make a film. We’ve already PAID TO BE THERE, right? Are they trying to reassure us that we made a good decision in coming, or do they think they movie is so bad that it won’s convince us without this bit of self-promotion? Pathetic.
2. Yogi Bear. Um. Unlike most releases of films for kids that also play heavily to the wit and memories of parents, this one is aimed straight at the kids. Dan Aykroyd as Yogi and Justin Timberlake as BooBoo. I’m holding out for the Ren and Stimpy mockumentary.
3. The G­reen Hornet. I’m glad it’s being resurrected. I’m more pleased than I can say to think that Black Beauty is going to roll again. It looks like it’s going to be bunch of fun. Still, the comic was understated and more of a drama. And why aren’t Seth Rogen’s ­fifteen minutes up yet?!
4. Season of the Witch. A Crusader pic with Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, replete with battles and magic and other stuff. I’m sold on all of it except for Cage, but he might not play himself in this one. We’ll see.
5. Kung Fu Panda. I never saw the original. I probably won’t see this one. I just like the teaser preview enough that it makes me appreciate the films on principle.
6. Red Riding Hood. The Village meets Trick R Treat? It’s a dramatic re-telling of the story we all know, but with a werewolf and Gary Oldman. I’m there.

Finally, the MOVIE.

“The Ministry has fallen. The Minister of Magic is dead. They are coming.”

The short, short version without spoilers (if indeed there CAN be spoilers for something that apparently everyone and their mum has read already) is that this movie is good. It is more faithful to the book than were the predecessors. Even if you’ve not read the books, with a two minute briefing from a friend you could be somewhat up to speed and would find this to be a very enjoyable film. It didn’t waste/spend time telling people what has happened up to this point, rightly believing that viewers are saying “Just get ON with it, already! We know!” It is incredibly dark and is not appropriate four young ones. The books and movies matured with the characters, yes, but the characters are now seventeen and the film is NOT for your ten year old. My main gripe here is that it’s two films. It made sense with Lord of the Rings. The author had it as three stories. They were shot in sequence. Harry Potter, though? It’s one story, it was all shot at the same time, and one part cannot be told without the other being missed. I’m not against splitting it up – it’s a long movie – but why release them so far apart? The film is DONE. Why not release this part now, then the second on Christmas weekend? Give everyone a chance to see it, keep the hype going, and then let us all wrap it up and be done. Then again, I was not consulted.

Okay, the wizarding and Muggle worlds are terrified because Lord Voldemort and his Legion of Doom are . . . well, scary. Snape is running Hogwarts. Harry Potter is Undesirable No. 1. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is dead, murdered by Snape. Harry has been charged with finding and destroying horcruxes, pieces of the world that are imbued with little bits of Voldemort’s soul. He doesn’t know where to look or how to destroy jack. The Ministry is taken over by Death Eaters, Harry and friends have to run away to continue their quest, and all the while Lord V is hunting for the Elder Wand, an artifact of such immense power that it is said to have been created by Death himself. That’s the gist of it.

This film is dark. Again, it is not for kids. It begins with three kids leaving the remnants of their regular Muggle lives behind. Ron is thinking about how and when to leave The Burrow. Harry sends the Dursleys away and obliviates any trace of himself from their minds. Okay, that’s fine, but it’s Hermione’s scene that immediately impressed me with the idea that this film would be mature. Her parents are on a sofa and she walks up behind them, on the verge of tears, and removes their memories of her. Their eyes glaze over a bit, and we see Hermione fade from all of the family photographs. The scene was well done, and it not only sets the tone of the film but demonstrates to us that the child actors are now young adults. They can actually act, and the director treats them as actors instead of as children trying to act.

Okay, acting. I don’t know whether or not it was sudden, but these kids stopped being child actors at some point and grew up. Daniel Radcliffe was first seen as a child, then as a hormonal and upset teen, but is now a young man shouldering responsibilities far greater than any person should have to. Rupert Grint isn’t just a petulant, insecure kid anymore. He’s actually kind of a beast. Emma Watson has grown and matured more than the other two, I think. She not only looks like a young woman now, but conveys a complex series of emotions that is truly believable. Other notables? Fiennes as Voldemort is creepy, but he’s still the same actor who first appeared many movies back. Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye is worth keeping an eye on (I crack myself up). Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge must have done a magnificent job again, because I found myself wanting to grind her face into the pavement. Bill Nighy is sadly unremarkable, except for his ongoing joy in playing characters with different accents. Basically, the three kids do really well and everything else is background noise.

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2 Comments »

  • Keeferman said:

    I’m not much into POTTERMANIA, but i was really impressed with this film. i love that they ended it on such a down note. It was like Empire Strikes Back.

  • Baldy (author) said:

    “Harry, Tom Riddle betrayed and murdered your father. . . ”

    Yeah. The last few movies they’ve tried to find dynamic directors. For this one, it finally had the feeling that the person who directed also read the book and understood the feel of the thing. I’m with you on that.

    All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.

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