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>> Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No seriously, Harry. This time your life really IS in danger.

This being the first of the Harry Potter movies I am reviewing, I will say I have been pretty pleased with the way the movies have gone so far. Ever since seeing the first one on DVD, I've been able to see the last five in theatres and never felt it was a wasted trip. The movies have always been entertaining and, thankfully, as the years progressed and as the children matured, so did the look, the feel and the themes of the movies.

Deathly Hallows is no different. In fact, it's probably the best of the series this far. Although there is an epic doom constantly looming that creates a very haunting and exciting atmosphere for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and pals, what I really appreciated was that Deathly Hollows took it's time in all the right ways, and really allowed us to appreciate the characters for who they are and what they've been through. This includes them really growing up and facing the facts; realizing that tiffs may happen and friendships may end; that those close to you may die and that sometimes, should the circumstance allow it, you just need to dance.

In this chapter, we catch up with Harry as he continues right where he left off in The Half-Blood Prince (2009), searching for the horcruxes, which are mystical objects spread throughout the world that contain pieces of Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) power. The magic world is recovering from Dumbledore's death, and some are even profiting from it. As usual, Voldemort is on the hunt for Harry Potter with his trusty band of evil goons - which now includes Severus Snape (the always enjoyable Alan Rickman) and Harry's schoolmate Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), following in his diabolical father's footsteps.

There's a certain patience that Deathly Hallows has that the others didn't. This may be because it was split into two movies (with the last half coming out next summer), or it may simply because the filmmakers realized that it's the quiet moments that can say the most. An outstanding example of this is when Harry and Hermione (Emma Watson) go the town Harry was born in and visit his parent's grave. That extra minute the camera rests on Harry's face allows us to see his pain, and see where his real motivation lies within reference to his journey to kill Voldemort.

If there's any problem with Deathly Hallows, is it's exclusivity to only those that have seen all of the prior Harry Potter movies. As a mild fan I appreciate this, but if I was someone who got dragged along and this was my first Potter experience, to say I would be lost and confused would be an understatement. There is a lot of reference to past films, including props, unfinished journeys (Harry's search for the remaining horcruxes), histories and characters that show up here and there without much explanation for who they are. Is this really a valid criticism? Yes and no. I'm not saying we need a 'Previously on Harry Potter' thing prior to the film - you're either a fan or you're not. However, even for someone who's seen all the movies prior to Deathly Hollows, I found it difficult to recall what the crew was talking about at times. But again, this is a minor thing in my eyes.

I am giving Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 a wide open door. It's a film that's near perfect and sets up the finale in an excellent fashion. It does what it was supposed to do and more. There's a love the filmmakers had for this film and have for the series that radiates from the screen in a way never before seen in a Harry Potter film. Evidence of this was clear when the studio announced that due to it not being up to standards, this half of the film would not be released in 3D. One of the biggest movies of the year has the opportunity to be in 3D and it backs away? Hollywood may be learning it's lesson when it comes to gimmicks people. There still may be hope, after all...

For a more detailed telling of the experience my friend Luke and I had seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), check out the post he wrote here.

*Stills courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


Editing Luke November 25, 2010 at 1:38 PM  

Thanks for the link! I had to go back and refresh the grammar and layout of that post given that it was one of my first and wasn't quite up to my new standards. Like I had said about Order of the Phoenix though, I'll probably wait for Deathly Hallows on DVD :)

Editing Luke November 25, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

ps. I've linked your review site on Editing Luke now.

Angry Charlie November 26, 2010 at 7:05 AM  

Thanks Luke! And yeah, if you're not a fan of the franchise, there's no reason to rush out and see this. But it is worth a watch. And glad to see you updated your old post. It was just... just shameful.

Alex Chandler November 28, 2010 at 7:10 PM  

Hey, thanks for the review, I'm hoping to see it in theaters, glad to see a "wide open door" :D ha

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