Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) are on the run in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Directed by David Yates
Screenplay by Steve Kloves based on the book written by J.K. Rowling
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint

It is impossible to review this seventh Harry Potter film like a traditional standalone picture. The previous six films have been leading up to it and what was released this weekend is only the first half of a story that was cleaved into two films. There are a ton of characters that get little to no reintroduction. Going in, the audience is expected to have seen the other films or have read the books.

I’m also not the most objective reviewer for this film. I love the Harry Potter books and the films. Yes, there are some flaws throughout the series, but overall I find them all thoroughly entertaining. It’s no surprise that I feel the same about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

The action oscillates between intense power to a middle section that almost crawls. Still, those slower scenes are still full of emotion and story progression. As a result, when the action kicks in, it feels super-charged and harrowing. There is a chase scene in the woods near the end of the film that is probably the most visceral action sequence of the franchise. Some of the material left out from the book, like the build up to the wedding, was understandable.

The producers of these films really lucked out when they cast Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint over a decade ago. They’ve all grown up to be rather attractive and have all turned into very capable actors. Grint, who usually handles the more comic moments, is particularly good in this outing. Sure, he still gets to make funny, confused faces, but the material calls for Ron Weasley to display some real anger, pain, and depression, and Grint really steps up to it.

The exposition is certainly less frequent than in the novels. To have Hermione endlessly explain everything to Harry and Ron would get really old, very quickly. There is a brilliantly animated sequence that illustrated the story of the Deathly Hallows and narrated by Watson. This was a great way of showing rather than just telling. Also, none of the returning characters are reintroduced in any way that doesn’t assume that the viewer already know who they are from the other films. With so many characters, doing so would have really slowed the pacing of this film.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a worthy addition to the franchise. I would probably put on the same level as The Order of the Phoenix, but certainly not as good as the masterful Prisoner of Azkaban or the very solid Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince. Chances are that if you enjoyed the other Potter films, you’ll like this one as well.

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