"I don't take the movies seriously, and anyone who does is in for a headache." --Bette Davis (Opinions Expressed Are My Own)
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
When I heard that they were going to split the final Harry Potter into two parts, I was kind of weary. Not that two parts would'nt be a great way to do the final book justice, and include all the important parts, but that they first half of the saga would drag, as the first half of the book is a lot of set up, and hodge podge movement that serves its purpose, but might not translate well onto the screen.
While it may not be the most action packed, fast-paced movie of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is far from a drag.
(Sorry, spoliers might be ahead, but my guess is that you all have already seen it)
The story picks right where it left off in the Half-Blood Prince, as our heroes depart on their long and strenuous journey to find the Horcruxes that make up Voldemort's existence. While its not the most exciting of the series, it is filled with plenty of fun, action-packed moments, from the first battle with the Death Eaters, to the crazy (yet hilarious) infiltration of the Ministry of Magic, to the epic (and sexy?) destruction of one of the Horcruxes. However, the biggest moments in this epic, and the most important, tend to be the quiet ones, where we see our beloved heroes deal with the pains of growing up and facing a cruel and unpredictable world, with little help with the exception of each other, and learning to deal with death and loss of people they really care about. Plus there is a heart-warming dance scene, that wasn't in the book, but shows us the true friendship of two characters (won't give it away just in case), and added some much needed warmth to an otherwise dark story.
When I read reviews about this film, I heard many reviewers complain that this was the part that made it drag, the quiet moments. But in my mind, I know that the second half will make up for the loss of a lot of action, and that this slowing down of things, the quiet before the storm, is exactly what Rowling had in mind. It finally provides the emotional depth that matches its magical surroundings.
The actors, particularly our three young heroes, have improved so much, that I now no longer cringe (I have always love the movies, but some of those seens when they were younger weren't exactly fantastic), and now embrace the maturity that these three young thespians have mastered. Emma Watson, particularly, has really blossomed into a fine young actress, and is stunning in this film. The other bright spot for me was the fantastically crazy/evil Helena Bonham Carter, who steals the two short scenes she is in, and is destined to do even more so in the next film.
I was also extremely impressed by the improvement in the technical aspects particularly the cinematography, and the wonderful special effects, both of which deserve Oscar recognition. I even enjoyed the score, even though I missed John Williams, I thought that Alexandre Desplat's moody score captured the darkness of the story, and wasn't overwhelming.
In the end, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 isn't a perfect film, but then again, neither was the first half of Rowling's novel. It does drag in a few parts, and the back and forth nature of the story, which was hard to follow in the novel, is sometimes even more difficult on screen. However, despite that, it deftly combines the things that we have grown to love about Harry Potter, the magic and the characters, and adds the emotional depth that has provided a great set-up for what is sure to be a stunning finale.
Oscar Potential: I think that Emma Watson should be considered in the Supporting Actress race (although she is more of a lead), but that is wishful thinking. However, the Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design, and Special Effects are definitely in consideration. I think that Part II will have a better shot at making the top ten than this one, if it is as good as I predict it will be.