Sunday, November 21, 2010

Movie Review- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Just saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Friday night! Waited in line for an hour and 20 minutes! How many hours did you wait to see the film? I've been giddy about this movie since the summer and now I can't wait to see the second part! Eight more months...geeez. At least they're not making us wait another year and a half- the usual wait times between Potter movies. I did a quick re-read through the seventh Harry Potter book before I went to see the movie so the details would be fresh in my head. I don't think it needs to be said that the final Harry Potter book is freaking amazing- my favorite installment out of the entire series. So how did the movie match up? Keep reading to find out what I thought of the film.

For those of you unfamiliar to what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is about, I'll give you a brief synopsis. First thing you need to know is, you MUST go and read these books!! You're depriving yourself on something really, truly incredible. There is not a single person I know who didn't end up falling in love with the book after they finally giving in to reading them. For those of you have read the series and is suffering from post-Potter depression, I'll probably put together a blog post on the best series to help ease your depression so stay on the look out for that (don't worry, Twilight will not be on the list).

So Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 focuses on Harry, Ron and Hermione's journey to find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them. This is the first movie where our trio doesn't themselves in the comfort and safety of their beloved school Hogwarts. As an audience, we can feel the peril and constant fear the Wizarding World is living in. Not long before Harry, Ron and Hermione set off on their journey, they are informed that the Ministry of Magic has been taken by over by Voldemort using an Imperiused Minster of Magic. The new Ministry of Magic falls under the belief that Muggles are the scum of the Earth and begun some sort of persecution of all witches and wizards with non-magical histories in their family tree. Many witches and wizards are on the run because of this, including several Hogwart students. Hogwarts is now under a new Headmaster, Snape who's employed several Death Eater professors. "Snatchers," who are groups working for the Ministry to catch witches and wizards on the run, are one of the many threats Harry and co. need to watch out for on their journey. Harry, Ron and Hermione begin their journey knowing they need to find the real locket of Salazar Slytherin, which they know to be one of the Horcruxes, and the sword of Godric Gryffindor, one of the few objects they can use to destroy Horcruxes. The other Horcruxes they believe could be two objects that belonged the other two Hogwarts founders, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff and Voldemort's snake, Nagini.

During their journey to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, they continue to come across a strange looking symbol and the trio decides to consult with a man named Xenophilius Lovegood (Luna's father) to find out what the meaning behind it is. The symbol represents the three objects that make up the Deathly Hallows:
the Resurrection Stone, a stone with the power to recall the dead to the world of the living; the Elder Wand, an unbeatable wand; and an infallible Invisibility Cloak. Whoever holds all three of them together conquers death. Harry soon realizes that Voldemort is after the Elder Wand but the trio decides its more important to find the Horcruxes than finding the Hallows for themselves.

If you're familiar with the book, the film ends after the escape from the Malfoy Manor, which is about three-fourths through the book. I thought it was a pretty good stopping point for the movie, though I did wish I could have seen the rest of it. Because it was cut, the movie didn't have a very satisfying ending. I really felt like something was missing from this HP installment. I'm pretty sure it was the fact that we never saw Hogwarts at any time throughout the movie. The fairy tale magic that the other movies had just wasn't there anymore. This film felt more raw and real. Times were bad for the Wizarding World and that fact really came through. The director decided to dwell on this fact by adding a slightly awkward scene with a incredibly down Harry and Hermione dancing in their tent in a attempt to keep their spirits up. Majority of the scenes in this film is the trio moving around to reclusive areas and setting up camp, trying to decide on wahat their next move. The pacing and mood is much slower and melancholy than the other Potter films, which is not necessarily a bad thing, though I did feel like it was going down hill when they reached Xenophilius Lovegood's house. The movie was definitely the darkest of the Potter films which I thought was done right since the seventh book was the darkest of the series. I'm glad they didn't shy away from the gritty details from the book in an attempt to keep it family friendly.

My problem with the movie, again, was the pacing around the time they arrived at Xenophilius Lovegood's house. I did love the animated bit when we were told the story of The Three Brothers but I thought they could made a few changes with the pacing. I thought it was strange how the trio went from apparating out of Xenophilius' house to land not far outside of it fully on guard with their wands at hand, only to get ambushed by Snatchers and not be able to escape from them. They're could have been a break between Xenophilius and getting snatched by the Snatcher (lol) in order to begin building momentum to a big, intense climax at the Malfoy Manor. Everything was just happening too quickly, one after another, at a very one note pace. Something needed to be thrown into the mix. I also didn't find the Malfoy Manor scene to be nearly as intense as the book. When reading the book, my nails were digging into the pages during this chapter, but this scene in the film felt very quiet and rushed.

One a more positive note, there were several things I did enjoy about the movie. I thought it was kind of neat seeing the trio together outside of school. A lot of the camping scenes, especially the one in the snow, was beautiful. The cinematography, just like Yates' previous two Potter films, was beautiful. I also thought the acting has definitely improved especially on Harry's part (too bad he's not taller). I didn't really like this new score composed by Alexandre Desplat which makes me sad because a movie's score is one of the most important features to me. One last problem with the film (though it wasn't really a problem for me) was it does little to explain the significance of Grindelwald and Dumbledore's back story. Most of Potter's did the same thing where they didn't go into explaining many of the details, making it incomprehensible for anyone who hasn't read the books. I'm sure if the films attempted to do so, most people would fall asleep, but I wonder how well someone who hasn't read the books understands the movies. Please, share your thoughts on this in the comments!

Final Score- 8/10

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