November 21, 2010

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -Part 1

hp715_largeOn Friday night I went with a few friends to see the new Harry Potter movie. We sat there and watched for nearly two and a half hours in a sold out theater. The movie ended and everyone filed out of the theater. I parted ways with my friends and when I got home I was not sure I wanted to write about the movie. I still don't, however I figured I should put something down. So, here I am, keys under my fingertips, scant few thoughts in my head, attempting to come up with something half intelligent to say about the movie. The words are not coming easy.

I guess I should start with some basic information about my Potter experience. It has been limited to the films. I have never read the books, nor do I intend to so don't try to convince me. It is not that I do not like to read, I just have absolutely no interest in reading them. With that being true, I do admire what J.K. Rowling has done in creating this widespread interweaving franchise with any number of characters to identify with. The film series has been equally ambitious in its epic scope. What other film series can you say you watched the stars grow up in? It is pretty amazing the consistency in overall vision and how the cast has been kept together at all levels through so many films. People may have thought the time investment in the Lord of the Rings films was a a lot, think about the Potter franchise.


It has been fascinating watching these characters grow over the years. I have not enjoyed all of the films, but they each have brought something new to the table. The story has grown across the films, we have watched the characters grow as their relationships have changed with each other and their teachers, acquaintances, and enemies, all while the oncoming danger of Voldemorte's return has affected the life of the Chosen One, Harry Potter.

That brings us to this seventh film, part 1 in the 2 part final chapter. I am sad to say that it did not work for me. I also realize that I am likely to be in the minority, especially among Potter die hards. It just seems like this is where the big transition from kids to young adults happens and it coincides with a creative team's loss of ability to write them as such. This leaves the interactions awkward and a story that does not have the weighty dread I would have expected from the upcoming climax.

The screenplay was flat and lifeless. Seriously, what happened here? The cast was doing its best to bring some life to it, but it wasn't happening. The melodrama was amped up but I did not feel I had a reason to care. It is a shame, too, as I like the two prior films and how they managed to combine the angst of being a teenager with the weight of having to defeat an evil intent on killing you.

The Deathly Hallows Part 1 looks to take our heroes to the next level, upping the ante and thrusting our youngsters into a new realm of danger. Many friends are dead or missing, Dumbledore is dead, Voldemorte controls the Ministry of Magic, and the only way to stop the the evil wizard is the destruction of a number of horcuxes. Of course, no one knows where they all are or how to destroy them.


Our main three have little arguments about what to do and where to go, not to mention some hormonal issues as sexual politics start to come into play. Man, I wish this was written better as there is a lot going on here that could actually be interesting but I felt like I was watching a student play made with big Hollywood money.

The poor writing has dragged down the overall quality of the film. It is shot well and there are a bunch of beautiful sequences throughout. I just sit back and wonder what might have been. I also wonder if the problem lies with the decision to split the book into two films? Yes, it is a big book, so were the others. Could it be that the material was stretched a little to make two films during the adaptation process? I don't know, maybe, maybe not. Who can tell? Well, I suspect most fans will see it differently, and I a happy for you. Honestly.

At least now Peter Parker isn't the only character to have an embarrassing dance sequence. I also suspect I will be able to do a MST3K style commentary with some friends.

Let me stop here by saying for the most part I have enjoyed the Potter movies, but I am also glad the end is in sight.

Not Recommended. (unless you are a fan)

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