Film Review – Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part One

Harry Potter 1 sheet

After all the hype and excitement, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One hits the cinemas next weekend. As Voldemort and his Death Easters start to exert control, Harry, Ron and Hermione start their search for the four remaining Horcruxes, in an attempt to bring about his downfall.

At a staggering and bum-numbing 146 minute, I did wonder if this was Warner Brothers milking the story for everything they’ve got, but the first surprise is that this is a very well paced movie with barely an ounce of fat on it. Writer Steve Kloves has edited it down for unnecessary exposition and what we are left with is a movie that achieves a lot with a scenario that offers very little, the desperate and frustrating search for the Horcruxes and the sword of Godric Gryffindor.

The movie continues in the dark vein of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, and has some genuinely disturbing and scary moments. However interspersed with the darkness and gloom are some beautifully light-hearted moments and touching sequences. Unfortunately there is one scene of utter mawkishness that jars horribly with the rest of the film, but as it’s based on JKR’s writing itself, there’s little that can be done.

The three teen leads are all excellent, Radcliffe still broods well; Watson is exceptional in moments where she has no lines but shows every bit of emotion and Grint has more to do in this than in any previous film. There is steeliness to his performance perhaps not seen before.

Of the supporting cast, Helena Bonham-Carter continues to be mad, bad and dangerous to know as Bellatrix, whilst Jason Isaacs is superb as a clearly broken Lucius Malfoy. Due to the nature of the plot neither Bill Nighy nor Brendan Gleeson have a great deal of screen time, which is a real shame as both inhabit their roles (Nighy is Rufus Scrimgeour) beautifully. Rhys Ifans is great fun as Xenophillus Lovegood, clearly as batty as his daughter Luna.

The scene with Lovegood also has one of the nicest surprises of the movie, as the story of the Deathly Hallows (the wand, the stone and the cape) is told with some stunning animation. This was totally unexpected and truly beautiful, a very sound decision.

Indeed it’s worth mentioning that the film looks fantastic. No longer tied down to three or four locations outside of Hogwarts, the location choices are fantastic and often visually arresting. Furthermore the production design overall is exceptional, especially designs related to the Ministry of Magic after the Death Eaters have taken it over. Look out in particular for the pamphlets relating to Muggles, which repeat the typography and design of darker times in recent history.

The film is going to be shown in 2D, after Warners announced last month that they weren’t happy with the 3D process and wanted to continue to work on it. To be honest it really doesn’t need a 3D print. While there are certain points that would work very well indeed, for the most part it would just give the film an extended depth of focus, which at over 2 hours long would give anyone a headache. Watching the film it’s easy to spot the key scenes that have been causing issues, kudos to Warners for holding back on this until they’re sure it’s right.

With a 12A certificate, there may be parts of the film that are unsuitable for younger children. Although the really nasty bits are implied rather than shown, those scenes are still disturbing. Full credit to David Yates for getting the balance right in what to show and what to suggest.

The film should keep most die-hard Potter fans very happy indeed, it ends on a superb note and leaves the audience wanting more. While I suspect fans of Tonks and Lupin will feel short-changed again, most of the other characters are well served by Kloves’ script. Visually arresting, well acted, and very well paced, this does exactly what it set out to do and all Warners has to do now is ensure that the finale meets up to the expectation.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One opens worldwide on November 19th

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on November 13, 2010.

One Response to “Film Review – Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part One”

  1. Good review
    Here’s mine
    http://tinyurl.com/39hz34n

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