Deathly Hallows Part I Review

I’m not one to critique movies too often, but I do have my own personal way of judging how much I like them. I give each movie two different scores – an Expected Score and an Actual Score. The expected score takes into account how much I’m looking forward to the movie, whether or not I expect to enjoy it and what I’ve seen or read about it in the preceding months. The actual score is how much I ended up enjoying the movie. Factors for this could include the performance of individual actors, the special effects, the writing or the score to to the movie.

Having read all seven books countless times and having seen the six previous movies, my anticipation for The Deathly Hallows: Part I was extreme. This movie was to be the beginning of the culmination of a phenomenon that for me, started in the sixth grade. There are a lot of things that I loved when I was 11 that I don’t love anymore, but Harry Potter is not one of them. In fact, the series has grown on me tremendously.

However, while the books remain some of my favorite of all time, the movies have been rather hit-and-miss. It’s fun to see the characters come to life on the big screen, but movies have time limitations that books do not. Because of this, the movies have seriously condensed some of the books clever storylines and the films have moved along at a rapid pace that leaves little time for the character development that JK Rowling was so good at. I watched the first six movies simply because they were Harry Potter, not because of any superb writing.

The seventh book was by far my favorite, as it tied up every loose end imaginable and continued to build upon relationships and stories that began in the first chapter of the first book. Surprisingly, I find myself in a small minority when I mention that Deathly Hallows was my favorite book, as it’s more of a middling book for most Potter fans. I was pleased to hear that the filmmakers were planning on splitting Deathly Hallows into two separate movies because I didn’t believe it could properly be done in one. There was too much information contained in the book that needed to be included and still some information from other books that needed to be introduced.

So my expected score for the penultimate Potter film was an easy five. I was very much looking forward to the movie, and expected it to be well done and accurate.

As for the movie itself I was pleased. Fortunately, the filmmakers decided to split the story into two parts, which greatly benefits the pacing of Deathly Hallows. The director was able to slow things down, provide more character development, and include some nice filler scenes. I felt that the filmmakers took some calculated liberties interpreting the book, but for the most part, they worked. The most noticeable difference to me was how the movie cut back on the violence of the seventh book and replaced it with a higher sex factor. There were several scenes that were sexed up, while the dark overtones were less pronounced. Sure, the movie had intimidating tasks and formidable foes, but not to the extent that the book did.

I heard several reviews complaining that the movie was too dark and close to being inappropriate for children. My retort is that it’s not supposed to be a G-rated adaptation. The seventh book is by far the darkest and most imposing, the movie managed to reflect that and I am glad that it did. JK Rowling’s original audience grew up with Harry and if the last installment is too dark for your kid, wait a few years between each book like I did.

Harry & Hermione Dance

There were several places in the movie that I felt the filmmakers had adequate room for interpretation. The Harry/Hermione dance scene was improvised for the movie, and some people did not care for it – I did. I felt that it adequately summed up the overarching feeling at the time and did so in a way that way fun and light. One of my favorite parts of the movies was the animated storytelling of the Tale of the Three Brothers. The entire story needed to be in the movie, and I can’t think of a better way that could have been accomplished.

The movie was very long, but so well produced that it didn’t feel that long. You really were taken through a film that transitioned seamlessly from one scene to the next. There was a lot of information that needed to be included in the movie I for the most part, everything was. However, the one thing I did not care for was the way that the split was handled. Going into the production everyone knew that the story would be split into two parts and that Part I would end with a huge “To Be Continued…” but I thought it could have been done better.

Films that are a preceding part need to both leave the audience hanging for the sequel, but also still provide a satisfying watching experience all on their own. And I think Deathly Hallows didn’t do as a good job at tying up their first part as movies like The Empire Strikes Back and Back To The Future did in their time.

At Malfoy Manor

One of the most impressive things about the entire Potter series is the casting. Each time the credits roll, it’s like reading a who’s who of the best talent Britain has to offer. But more amazing than the all-star lineup of adult cast is the job that Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have done. The three child stars were thrust into the spotlight before they were teenagers, and each one has matured wonderfully over the past decade and have completely embraced their roles in the movies. Some casting director somewhere deserves a huge raise for pegging those three for the very first movie. Not only have the developed into excellent actors, but they’ve handled themselves with maturity beyond their years.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I definitely surpassed my expectations for a Potter movie, and did an excellent job adapting the book its’ based on. I saw it three times and of course, can not wait until Part II drops into theaters this coming summer.

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Posted on January 20, 2011, in TV & Movies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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