Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, a Review

In case you didn't know, a tiny budget movie came out last night at midnight o'clock.  It quietly sneaked its way into theatres all across the globe, daring to hope a return on investment and a pleased audience.  Very little fanfare was made for this film, as countless people have joined the ranks of logic and science, shunning the very mention of magic.  Only die-hard, B-movie folks were excited, but their excitement reverberated throughout the realms of Hollywood.  (What the heck am I talking about?)

Actually, there was much ado about The Deathly Hallows, Part 1, and I imagine cinemas across the world filled with sights similar to what I beheld last night.  I did not dress up, as many were wont to, unless you say I went as a modern American muggle, which I suggest you don't, but I did see plenty of creative outfits.  It appeared that the magic of Harry Potter was turned on a bit early.  The nerdfest was endearing, the packed out crowd in the IMAX theatre a regular mixing pot.  People of all ages, races, creeds, and intelligences (high school kids that scream stupid profanities are low on this list) made gentle chit-chat as the 3-hr wait ensued.  And when the lights dimmed, the crowd erupted, and for the next 146 minutes I was spellbound.

I won't spoil the movie and say what's in the film and what's not, but I will say that the movie was mostly true to book.  I understand some things have to be converted and translated to make a movie appealing.  That's well and good.  Plus, I understand that Mrs. Rowling herself gave an okay to the changes, so if she's happy, I'm satisfied.  There were several things, mostly regarding the use and misuse of polyjuice potions and Harry's invisibility cloak, that were off, so to speak, but it worked well with the events of the movie.

(Possible Spoilers)  Okay, I lied.  I'll speak a bit on what I liked and didn't like.  If you don't want to read this part, skip down a bit to the end o' spoilers bit.  I liked the battle in the sky between the Harrys and the Death Eaters, but I didn't like how nonchalant Hedwig was played off there.  Her death in the book is tragic.  I like how evil Voldermort is portrayed in this film, and his scenes are all great at establishing how horrible of a villain he is.  I liked Godric's Hollow, and Bagshot was crazy-wild.  I felt like the Malfoy's Manor scenes towards the end should have been expanded, but the opening with Burbage was awesome.  I really liked the interlude cartoon of "The Tale of the Three Brothers."  The artistic view on that was brilliant.  I wish there had been more back-story revealed on Tom Riddle and Albus Dumbledore.  The Ministry scene was funny and cool.  How I loathe Umbridge.  (End o' Spoilers)

The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 starts off on a sad note, laying the groundwork for what's to come.  In fact, this movie is much darker and grittier than any of the other films of the series, so much so that it almost seems like its in a class of its own.  All of the actors performed admirably, of course, and the directing by David Yates was beautiful.  I really liked the tone that this movie carried, and the weight of the film was felt by the audience.  Set design was also spectacular, as were the costumes and special effects.

As a Harry Potter fan, was I happy?  Satisfied?  Absolutely.  Apart from the expected crowd reactions -- spontaneous applause at certain points, laughter, commentary -- and the stifling heat, The Deathly Hallows, Part 1, was everything I'd hoped it'd be.  It cut off right where I expected it to, with emotions put through the gamut and a seemingly cliffhanger end.  If Part 2 is as good as this opener, which it will be, then color me excited.  Heck, color me excited anyway.


Jay Belt said...

***** Warning: My comment has slight hinted spoilers to the Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows and Toy Story 3 Movies -- Sorry Folks *****

I have a question for ya. How much "scary factor" is in this movie? If your were a child, so to speak... I ask because my almost fearless 5-year-old is not happy at all to hear us say we are going to see the movie without her. She's seen all the other Potter movies and keeps trying to convince my wife and I she's big enough--The same girl who got freaked out with Toy Story 3's "fiery end" scene. Granted it wasn't screaming, leave-the-theater scared like my nephew, but she certainly curled up against us, shaking in our arms. But when I think of TS3, that scene is rather grim, with the slow movement toward the fire and everyone holding hands, casting "this is the end" looks to each other.

(SLIGHTLY SPOILERIFIC COMMENT INCOMING) I know the beginning could be frightening, but other than that scene, only the snake scene at Godric's Hollow comes to mind that I can think would be scary in terms of a smaller child.

logankstewart said...

Jay: Yeah, really the Nagini scenes (the opening scene and Godric's Hollow) are the two major moments I'd say would be scary, and the scene where Harry, Ron, & Hermione go to Grimmauld Place and encounter an apparition at the door that rushes towards the screen. Other than that, there are some tense scenes and definitely some grim ones, but there were plenty of youngsters in the audience last night, too.
Oh, and there was a rush of dementors while the trio was escaping from the Ministry of Magic that also may be scary, as they, too, rush the screen.

Hope this helps!

Jay Belt said...

Thanks! I'll probably prep her up for it by watching the last two movies.

Jonathan Francis said...

Wow. I was just floored. They totally nailed it. I'm going to put up a review soon as well. Great job on yours!

Krista said...

CAN NOT WAIT TO SEE THIS ONE!!!! by the way, you could have totally passed as Ron! LOL! :)

contemplatrix said...

great review, as always... your intro was very amusing!

to add to the list of scary moments in this, you are right "dark and gritty" film, Hermione's torture scene. while I appreciated how they down-played the potential for explicit/graphic violence in the film, it was still pg-13 and up... and really, it was the previews at our theater that had me cringing over the fact children were in the audience.

in agreement with your likes/loathes. I find it to the franchise's compliment that they made Umbridge so distasteful previously that just the mere image/viewing of her in this one had the audience hating her.

I think they were trying to give Hedwig a more heroic ending and provide an easier explanation for Voldemort's finding Harry, but the lack of mourning was difficult for me; but I am trying to remember how much a character Hedwig is in the films vs. the books. I remember reading in the book, and gasping over the loss of Hedwig...

why do you think they continue to downplay fenrir... he seems to be a cameo at best, when in the book he is a fantastic villain?


logankstewart said...

@Jonathan: Sweet, I look forward to your review and impressions.

@Krista: Indeed, I could have passed for Ron, but for my early balding head...

@L: Aye, 'twas the lack of mourning over Hedwig (or Moody, for that matter) that was bothersome. Though, I suppose the films don't give their relationship much time.

And I agree with Fenrir completely. The guy is an excellent villain, but I guess there's only so much they can cover with each movie. At least their giving Bellatrix the screen time she needs.

Jay Belt said...

Honestly, Hedwig hasn't gotten much screen time with any of the movies beyond the first two. I was a little bugged that Hegwig's attack was the reason they realized it was the real Harry. I always liked book 7s reasoning they recognized it was Harry, with him casting Expeliamous (or however it's spelled). And then they berate Harry for casting that spell too much--because of how 7 ends. That's a minor, minor nitpick though.

I thought they did a wonderful job with translating this movie from book form. I look forward to part 2.

And my daughter... she saw Mastermind with my wife as my son and I watched Deathly Hallows Pt 1. She had failed the test of watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the dark of our living room on Friday night. Lights on, she was fine. The moment I turned the lights off, she started curling up against me and burying her head in my arms at most the "scary" scenes.

ibeeeg said...

Sharon Bastin LASSO Consultant

There were a ton of people at the theater we went to. Only a few dressed up which I think is all very well. I do know that my audience did seem to grow up with the series which I found interesting.
A mixed pot for sure though.

I forgot to mention The Tale of Three Brothers in my review. I really liked that sequence; very cool.

I too wish for a great opener for Part 2. There is a lot to hope for but I am going to try and not think too hard on it for fear of expectations not being lived up to.

Great review, I had fun reading it.

logankstewart said...

@ibeeeg: Thanks. I'm sure Part 2 will be good. I've been more or less pleased with the last few movies, so I think it'll end with another plus.