Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One reviewed by The Prince
The epic finale.
Or is it?
Well, obviously, it’s only the first half, but Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part One seems to follow its predecessor, The Half Blood Prince’s purpose and serve mainly as an appetizer for the next film – in this case, The Deathly Hallows: Part Two – coming to cinemas July 14, 2011.
Those behind The Twilight Saga recently announced that they too were releasing the series’ final film into two parts, but when those in the Harry Potter camp did so, it was very much a new thing. In reaction, the cynic in me tended to agree with the majority of worldwide critics and call it what seemed most obvious – a cash grab to the extreme. And in fairness, if you knew you could make double on releasing a product in two halves, what would you do? And it’s not like we’re talking a small amount of dough either – we’re talking the difference of a billion dollars. The average Harry Potter makes $900 million (and they sit 8th, 19th, 28th, 16th, 10th and 11th, respectively, on the highest grossing films of all time list) with the last two entrants in the series going well north of that figure.
So, great for Warner Bros. (not that they need it!) but where does that leave us movie fans? Well, on the upside, the expanding of the film into two parts gives the writer, Steve Kloves (who has written the screenplay for all of the films, except Order Of The Phoenix) a lot more room to squeeze in as much as possible from the book. And, without having read it, I’d like to think he succeeded. There is a lot of information, sub-plots and minor characters that would likely have got the cut had there only have been one film. Now, while that seems very much like a ‘pro’ (and it is for a while) it also manages to be a major ‘con’ when critiquing the movie. Somewhere in the first ten minutes (you’ll know where when you watch it) I was thinking “this is gonna be the ‘action man’s Harry Potter’, four stars already!”. But once the first half hour or so passes, The Deathly Hallows: Part One seems to get stuck in second gear, with only the occasional (or should I say, rare) burst of energy. Instead we get within reach of boredom while we watch extended scenes that would’ve been drastically, and in most cases necessarily, cut shorter had it only been one movie. So I guess you could call this the ‘fans of the books’ Harry Potter flick’. Too many times have I, and I’m sure you too, had to listen to them whine about “this wasn’t like it is in the book” or “that was left out”. Heads up guys – this isn’t the only source material to suffer in its move to the big screen. But, as I was getting to…pick any other Harry Potter movie – that’s your example of a book having to be edited in order to make a reasonably lengthed film. The Deathly Hallows: Part One (and therefore Part Two) is your example of including as much of the book as possible. And maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong, by not reading the books, but, I’d like to think I’m reviewing the movie fairly and according to how all films should – by only what’s seen between the opening credits and the end. It’s just that after sitting through the movie, you imagine yourself asking the writer “really, you couldn’t have shortened that” or “you couldn’t have left this out altogether”?
But, to be fair to something that sounds like I absolutely loathed – I did like it, I just didn’t love it like I hoped I would. For one, the action, however brief it is, is awesome; the tone is as it should be – dark; music is great – even more effective when it’s not there during tense moments, giving the movie a real chilling feeling; even the acting I wouldn’t complain too much about. I for one have not boarded the “Daniel Radcliffe is a horrible actor” bandwagon. I’ve never been too bothered at all by his performances in the Potter films and it shocks me that more is said about his talents, along with those of his young cast mates, than that of the crew over at Twilight. Am I really the only one who thinks that the actors can’t stand each other so much that those feelings translate to the big screen? ‘Cause they sure as hell have no chemistry in any of the three movies I’ve seen. (And no, that will not be the first pointless stab at Twilight in this review).
Seeing the uber-ensemble cast all back again is another great plus. The series has pretty much seen the who’s who of British acting talent slot in amongst the cast somewhere and for all to keep coming back, regardless of how short their roles might be (especially in DH: Part One) is a credit to their commitment to the movies, I don’t care how much they’re getting paid. A massive shout out to my favorites: Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) and Alan Rickman (Prof. Snape).
In the end I guess The Deathly Hallows: Part One does what it’s supposed to and gets you psyched up for the next one, but after feeling that was all The Half-Blood Prince did, I walked away a little disappointed. And while, yes, I know that it’s technically only half the story, I wanted more than just a great start and a fantastic cliffhanger of an ending.
Still, it could be worse, you could be watching Twilight: New Moon again– now that was slow! (BOOM! there’s the second one)