Friday, December 17, 2010

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Year: 2010
Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Bill Nighy, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis

The Harry Potter films stopped being fun the day Cedric Diggory died.

But it's not because Cedric was such a well loved character. His death simply meant that things were going to get ugly, and it was not going to stop until either Harry or Voldermort dies. Cedric unfortunately was merely the first in a long line of characters in the adventures of Harry Potter that will bite the dust.

In my opinion, only real Potter fans, that is, those who read the books, would really feel anything when these characters meet their demise. For people like me, the regular movie fan, and many others who love it for the epicness, we just wonder when it will end, and how. So when I sat down to watch The Deathly Hallows, the only thing I felt was a small measure of relief that it would soon end at last. Not that it hasn't been fun. It has. It's just that I want to take something significant away from these films besides seeing everyone either grow up or die.

So Deathly Hallows begins with Harry and his two friends, Ron and Hermione, prepare for the hard days to come. Voldermort and his forces grow stronger now that Prof. Dumbledore is dead, thanks to Prof. Snape. Harry, Ron and Hermione attempt to locate Voldermort's horcruxes, objects which contain pieces of his soul. If they can find all of them and destroy them, they can defeat him.

Through their journey and a subsequent meeting with Luna Lovegood's father Xenophilius, the trio learn of the Deathly Hallows; three magical things that would make its owner the master of death. They also learn that Voldermort is after the same things.

David Yates takes the helm again after doing the last two instalments, and once again the mood is dark and grey. And like before, Yates is very thorough in his approach. I assume this is to please the fans so that all the important points in the book are covered, which is why there are two parts to this final chapter, the second one scheduled for next year.

However, I must question Yates' decision to film certain scenes that I thought wasn't crucial. In the middle third of the film, the story drags as Harry, Ron and Hermione teleport from place to place, camping and doing nothing much other than sulking over their fate. Harry and Hermione even have time to engage in a dance sequence, which I know was an attempt to ease the tension between them. But all this did not serve the story and should have been edited out.

The other thing I hate relates to something I should point at J.K. Rowling to address. Why would she kill off good guys only? She kills Cedric, then Sirius Black, then Dumbledore, and two more here. But bad guys? Nuh uh! The Malfoys live, the annoying Bellatrix Lestrange still hangs around, and if any bad guys got killed in this film, they weren't important enough to put in here anyway. So Ms Rowling, why would you write like that? Gosh. I guess that's my flaw for not being a fan of the books.

But what is good about the film is the fact that the kids are all grown up. Radcliffe, Grint and Watson have now comfortably fit into their roles and do a splendid job indeed. In this film, they go through grief, anger and sadness, and they all deliver. Two particular scenes stand out: the first is something Hermione does at the start of the film, and the second at the end when Harry cries over a friend's death. Ron also gets some emotional drama midway and Grint does not disappoint.

Bill Nighy gets a small role here as the Minister of Magic but still manages to make his presence felt. Rhys Ifans is a perfect fit as the quirky Xenophilius Lovegood, much like Evanna Lynch who plays his daughter Luna. The other supporting cast only get a few scenes, and Prof. McGonagall is missing altogether, though I hear she'll be in part 2.

With a bit of tightening on the runtime, this would have been better. But I must say, I do want to see how this entire series comes to a close next summer when part 2 is released. Let's hope it ends with a bang. (3.5/5)

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