I wrote reviews for the last two Harry Potter films for my paper; however, I have yet to post the reviews for some reason. So here they are!
The seventh film in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, is bittersweet for Potter fans. It’s been nearly a decade since the first Potter film was released, and while fans finally get to see Harry start to live up to his destiny, it also means the adventure is almost over.
Hallows is the darkest film in the series, but one of the best. Its setting and plot are larger in scope than any other film in the series, too. From the opening minutes, it’s apparent to the audience that there is something at stake for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), as well as the actors who play them. All are operating without safety nets this time. The magical trio don’t have the Hogwarts staff to save their skins, and Radcliffe, Grint and Watson must carry the bulk of the film; they can’t rely on a supporting cast that reads like a who’s who of British actors as they have in previous movies.
The opening scenes of “Hallows” pick up where the last film ended. Harry and friends know what they have to do to defeat Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). They must find and destroy seven Horcruxes, magical items that contain pieces of Voldemort’s soul. Two have been destroyed already and they know of a third one, but they don’t know where to find it. They must also deal with personal doubts of their late mentor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). The first half of the film contains plenty of action. There’s a tense escape from 4 Privet Drive (Harry’s sort-of home) in order to move Harry to a safer location, another escape scene when some Death Eaters (Voldemort supporters) gatecrash a wedding at the Burrow (Ron’s home) and a bold heist, which requires Harry, Ron and Hermione to the infiltrate the Death-Eater-controlled Ministry of Magic in disguise.
The scenes in the ministry effectively show just how bad things have gotten in the wizarding world and just how bad that world needs Harry. Ministry statues show muggles (non-magical people) in dehumanized, subjugated positions reminiscent of Nazi-era Berlin. Propaganda posters that would have made Stalin proud prominently display a message of intolerance toward “mudbloods” (witches and wizards of muggle heritage).
The second half of the movie slows down, though. There’s a large stretch of camping scenes in the wilds of the British Isles when the trio are on the lam, trying to figure out their next move.
Undoubtedly, some will find it boring, but that’s probably because Potter moviegoers have become accustomed to the grounds of Hogwarts, which is full of elaborate set pieces and magical secrets and surprises.
The camping scenes were streamlined considerably compared to the book. They also gave director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves ample opportunities to showcase the interpersonal interactions and emotions among Harry, Ron and Hermione that have become increasingly complex.
It’s nice to see that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson are up to the challenge. Grint is particularly impressive in his role, as Ron becomes increasingly worn down by, and resentful of, the Horcrux-hunting process. It gives him a chance to break out of his normal role of funny-man to Radcliffe’s straight-man. But it’s a shame that great supporting characters such as Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) don’t get more screen time. They steal the scenes they’re in.
The movie ends with a confrontation at the Death Eaters’ makeshift headquarters and, like “The Empire Strikes Back,” it closes with much uncertainty and evil seemingly winning. It’s the first Potter movie to end without some sort of closure and will keep fans anticipating the next installment.
Those not initiated into the Potter mythos might have some trouble following along, as the plot of the series became somewhat convoluted by the seventh book. That being so, it’s probably best to get a primer beforehand if you haven’t seen the other movies or read the books.
Overall, Yates and Kloves created a compelling movie that abridged the first part of the book very well. For Potter fans, or fans of good storytelling, this is a must see.