REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The Harry Potter film franchise is one of the longest running, and, according to Box Office Mojo, is the highest grossing film franchise in history, when not adjusted for inflation. With all the success and praise the films have received over the years, many other films have tried to bank on Harry’s success, such as Twilight, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings. While some of these films have large followings of their own, most do not come close to the vastness of the Harry Potter legacy.

I remember receiving the first three Harry Potter books for Christmas many years ago. I am not typically a book reader, but after everyone I knew started reading them, I felt compelled to do so myself. I’ve been able to keep up with the books over the years, making sure to read them before the films are released, yet despite attending a midnight release of Deathly Hallows (the book), I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. I was only able to make it about halfway through the book before I saw the film, so I will do my best in this review to judge the movie purely on it’s own cinematic prowess, and not on the faithfulness of it’s adaptation.

Much like Half-Blood Prince before it, right from that start you get the feeling that this is going to be a serious movie. Harry Potter has grown up on the silver screen, and his audience has grown up with him. This is no longer a children’s movie. There are certain scenes that feel like they could have been part of a gritty war drama, and others that really tug at your emotions. We’re beginning to see the beginning of the end here, and everything is building up for something legendary. The final few moments of the movie have you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next scene to happen, yet realizing that you have to wait another eight months.

With the movie’s length (coming in just short of two and a half hours), and the fact that the final book is being released as two separate films, one would hope that the film makers took their time and made sure not to leave any stone unturned. And yet, certain scenes, key scenes, feel rushed, while others, mostly ones that show the main cast in the middle of nowhere, seem to go on for much longer than needed. This tactic may have been used to display the amount of time passing between those scenes, but I feel it takes away time from where it is needed more, even areas that I had not yet reached in the book, and therefore didn’t know every detail. But, the movie never feels long, and the whole time you know that it has to end somewhere, and you just hope it isn’t the next scene.

Another of the film’s faults (which there aren’t many) is it’s obvious intentions to try and make the most of 3D. I saw Half-Blood Prince in 3D, and was unimpressed by it’s post-production rendering. Come to think of it, no 3D movie really does a great job of immersing the audience, and typically rely on gimmicks to play on this, hopefully dying, trend. Deathly Hallows is no different. While I did not see this film in 3D (and I suggest you do the same), it is obvious where the film makers just wanted to see what all they could make “pop out” of the screen.

EDIT: It has come to my intention that this film was NOT released in 3D like Half-Blood Prince was, due to Warner Bros. seeing how poorly post-production 3D had performed in the past. However, this may have been decided after production, as scenes where 3D would have been beneficial still exist, and just seem silly now that they don’t get their desired payoff. Well, no complains from me.

A lot of major characters show up in the film, with all of their original actors make appearances, even if only for a few short scenes. Even some characters new to this film, such as the Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour, played by Bill Nighy, are played by popular or notable actors, yet appear only briefly. This goes to show the thought and dedication that went into casting. And as for the main cast – Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint – other than these Harry Potter films, they haven’t done much. And yet, they exude a great deal of talent. I guess playing the same character for nearly a decade can do that.

While Deathly Hallows is a great film, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, it is important to note that this is a sequel in a long line of films, and as such isn’t one that you can just jump into. A lot of references are made to the earlier films (and books), so much so that the film felt like it should have been preceded by “Previously, in Harry Potter…” If you have seen the previous films, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this one all the way to the end. If you haven’t seen the previous films, what have you been doing all this time?

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