Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – Plays like, surprise, half of a movie

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows, Part 1 – 2011

Directed by David Yates

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, John Hurt, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, David Thewlis, Patricia Walters, Rhys Ifans

Written by Steve Kloves based on the book by J.K. Rowling

The first thing one notices at the beginning of the first half of the last installment of J.K. Rowling’s sprawling teen epic; Ron (Gint)  is considerably less annoying.  He has grown into his body, inhabits the screen like he has a thought or three, and while he still has a considerable amount of half effective one liners, he is so brooding I could not hear half of them.  By the time they make their escape from the ministry of magic, he is downright heroic, without looking half the fool we’ve been force-fed all of these years.  If this is a precursor of things to come, then Part 2 should be pretty good.

The movie starts with an assault on the Muggles by the dark forces surrounding the Ministry, as well as an all out search and destroy mission for Harry.  Dumbledore’s gone, and he left his protege with instructions to destroy the 7 Horcruxes that make up the soul of Voldemart, who somehow lives to wreak havoc among the world of Muggles anyway.  Why does Voldemort need these devices?  I am not entirely sure.  It makes for a good mission though, as the 3 heroes (Harry, Hermoine and Ron) strike out randomly and search for the devices and whatever it is that will destroy them.

Gryffindor’s sword, first seen in …The Chamber of Secrets is revealed to be the instrument, but they are no closer to finding it than they are many of the Horcruxes.  Along the way, schisms and fissures are created and heal, like they have many times before.  Hermoine and Harry flirt a little, and we’re allowed to imagine a life without the red-headed idiot.  Might be some bright kids out of that union.  Alas, I am told by people more knowledgeable than this old bear trap that Ron’s better than I give him credit for.

S0, we move from their reunion to Xenophilius Lovegood (Ifans), who explains to the group what the Deathly Hallows really are.  I won’t bother explaining them to you, as I probably could not if I tried.  Suffice to say that you’ve seen most of them before.

The chase continues and they are caught eventually.  This leads to a sort of min-conclusion, which, at best, is inconclusive.  There is a nice scene at the end, though, when we see Dumbledore again.

This movie feels, really, like 2 hours of exposition.  There is a lot of running.  Some people die.  Some people are saved.  Many are left behind, for now, I think.  There are literally hundreds of references to things that I have no clue about.  I will wait for my bright niece Jessica to explain them to me, but something tells me that more than a few of these are from the books.  That I have no real complaints about the contents of the film does not change that there are not enough of those contents to qualify as a real film.

About those contents.  Radcliffe (Harry) and Watson (Hermoine) have grown into their roles.  I can see plenty of acting outside of these roles for them.  They are forced to be apprehensive by the plot considerably less this time around, and it helps to move things along.  The peripheral players have never been more so, as many of the names listed as starring in this feature have about as much time as one would expect…in a trailer.  Voldemort’s (Fiennes) scenes are, to a major extent, relegated to Harry’s mind flashes.  The good news here is that the movie falls almost exclusively on the shoulders of the above mentioned 3.  And like I said, Ron doesn’t stink this time.  The bad news is, no real face off scenes.  I guess they are waiting for the last book for that one.  Oh, wait…

The effects are as good as anything seen before in the films, with standouts being the standoff in the ministry of magic as well as the initial escape scene.  The snake is creepy, to be sure, but there is nothing as dark as was revealed coming from the book or Dumbledore’s death.  Yates has always done a great job making the scenes creepy, but without gore.  It just feels like something is missing: not fantastical effects, just significance.

So we continue waiting, and building a conclusion in our mind.  At this point, there better be an explosion the size of 3 Death Stars when Voldemort and Harry face off.  If they face off.

For the review of movies 1-6, click here.

For my niece Jessica’s reviews of the same movies, press here.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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