Friday, November 19, 2010

Movie with Abe: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Directed by David Yates
Released November 19, 2010

What’s likely the most anticipated film of the year has arrived, and it’s certainly a spectacle. This reviewer read the final book on the day it was released and only managed to see the first film in the series, which was actually quite good. Now, eight years later in the real world and almost the same in the world of Muggles and wizards, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all grown up and hormones, spells, and curses are flying everywhere. In his third consecutive adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novels, director David Yates manages to recreate some elements of the saga well while others are represented less impressively.

Dividing one singular book into two films is bound to present just as many challenges and limitations as it is to allow extra space and time (over five hours) to tell its story. In that sense, it’s easy to remember that the first half of this particular book is much less action-packed and exciting than the second half. Knowingly splitting the story in two and ending on a cliffhanger also presents its share of frustrations. At certain points, especially when our three heroes find themselves pitching tents in the woods, it feels like time is being killed because the first movie needs to be significantly stuffed with content. Whereas extensive description might be necessary in the books, it isn’t as applicable here. Similarly, the impact of writing about beloved characters being killed in a stark sentence on a page is much more powerful than hearing an actor say it, and therefore the strictly adaption some of the conversation is less effective than actually seeing it happen would have been.

There’s also a degree to which it seems almost required to have read the book and seen the previous films in order to comprehend what’s going on in this installment. While the latter is understandable, it’s still likely that most audiences haven’t seen the sixth film in over a year, and therefore some sort of quick refresher should be mandated, or at least recommended, so that audiences can more accurately follow along. Along the same lines, there are plot points not dwelled on that might be confusing to those unfamiliar with or unable to recall the intricacies of the book, and the plethora of fanciful names is also daunting to follow.

Though casting the lot of colorful characters is no easy task, that’s one area in which this episode of the series, like its predecessors, succeeds marvelously. Helena Bonham Carter steals the show for the second time this year in a fantasy film as the vicious Bellatrix Lestrange, and she is supported by other standouts like Imelda Staunton as the gleeful, evil Dolores Umbridge, Simon McBurney and Toby Jones as the voices of house elves Kreacher and Dobby, and James and Oliver Phelps as Fred and George Weasley. The lead trio has done a respectable job of growing up as well, and the relationship dynamic between Hermione and Ron is particularly entertaining. While the film does lag at times, it has its applause-worthy moments and ultimately proves to be decently enthralling.


1 comment:

Yossi said...

I agree with you on most of your points, but I disagree about needing refreshers. If you've memorized every detail in the book, it has the potential to make the movies be predictable. I think it's much more exciting when you don't know what lies ahead.