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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

November 22, 2010

VERDICT:
7/10 Horcrux Hunters

Solid stuff, but the first half of the book doesn’t hold a candle to the second half anyway.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 picks up with Harry and his two best buds dropping out of Hogwarts like the bums they are and hitting the road to locate the final remnants of Voldemort’s soul, smashing those suckers into oblivion and living like bonafide mountain men to avoid being killed by the hordes of Death Eaters that have taken jolly old England by force. Along the way, they catch wind of the fact that The Big V is searching high and low for the Deathly Hallows – a three-piece set of ultimate magic badassery – chances are he’s gonna use ’em on HP faster than that four-eyes can eat a snitch, and so they’ve got that to worry about, too.

And Snape’s the new headmaster at Hogwarts. Sometimes I wonder about the hiring policies at that school.

So, the first half of the final adaptation. Expectations are high, lots of fanboys and girls to please, failure is not an option for director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves. Lucky for them, they kicked ass with Half-Blood Prince, but nevertheless, they’ll be panhandling outside a London KFC for the rest of their days if they screw this up.

And after sitting through all 146 minutes of this, I’m thinking Dave and Steve can look forward to keeping their jobs.

First off: probably a smart idea to split this up into two movies, but it still strikes me as pretty damn odd that anything got left out. It’s nothing big, I guess, but I wasn’t even five minutes in before I turned to the six-year-old next to me and said, “That’s not what happens! What the fuck, man? Now hand over the Raisinets!” Six times out of seven, I can do without the Dursleys, but Harry actually has a great moment with that punk Dudley before his journey really kicks off in the novel, and while I realize it’s not exactly integral to the main storyline and most folks probably won’t care in the least to see them peace out of Little Whinging right off the bat, it’s also a summation of this movie’s biggest fault.

Granted, there are a crap-ton of characters and side plots to account for here and the good thing is that everyone does at least make a five second appearance to chime in with a “Harry, watch out!”, but I also think it’s safe to say that a number of those secondary characters and their side plots are far more memorable than watching Harry, Ron and Hermione hanging out in the woods with their thumbs up their asses. On the one hand, even if an extra forty minutes had been thrown in, this movie probably would have felt nothing short of rushed had it not been split up. On the other, Kloves spends a good deal of time on stuff that could have been trimmed down instead of spreading the love to the rest of the cast. I remember reading the book and coming to the realization that I was only halfway through (halfway being 400 pages) and our heroes had only managed to find and destroy one Horcrux despite there still being four left to take out.

Needless to say, the pacing gets cranked to 11 in the second half and it wasn’t much of a surprise that this is the only movie in the series that feels slow for an extended period of time. But this does wrap up at a later point than I thought it would, and when it does start to pick up, it’s pretty darn wild.

But regardless of all that stuff, Yates continues to do an outstanding job of making these movies look flat-out stunning. Just breathtaking scenery whether it’s in the depths of the Ministry of Magic or on a remote cliffside. Also dug some of his crazy new additions like a demon Katamari ball of sorts that gets unleashed from a Horcrux and forces Ron to watch his two best friends snog in the nude like it’s the goddamn Summer of ’69. That shit definitely wasn’t in the book. The gasps of horror from the parents chaperoning the second grade birthday parties in the room was classic.

Also have to give some bonus points for a pretty sweet animated scene about the history of the Deathly Hallows. Dug that very much.

And since this really is all about Harry, Ron and Hermione, it’s awesome to see how much better Radcliffe, Grint and Watson have become as actors. They’ve got legitimate range now, they don’t come off like the pizza-faced hormonal time-bombs they once were and they absolutely hold their own in the spotlight. Love that they don’t look ridiculous any more when they get pissed off. Grint in particular, he rocks it as Ron and even gets to say “Damn!”

PG-13 is right!

But like I said, everyone else is more or less a footnote. Draco is only around to mope briefly and get his wand jacked by Harry like a muggle bitch, Snape flies around like the Smoke Monster in one scene and then we never see him again, Tonks and Lupin merely allude to their marriage & pregnancy and that’s the last we hear of that, Bill Nighy is around just long enough to establish himself as the new Minister of Magic before getting offed six seconds later, and even Voldemort’s screen time is pretty lacking. The only exceptions are Dobby – the crowd-pleaser that he is – and Bellatrix Lestrange – the psycho bitch that she is. At least Dobby got the royal treatment and redeemed himself from his days as the cute version of Smeagol, but I’m still not down with Helena Bonham Carter’s overacting. Too much screaming. Even the Dark Lord has an inside voice.

And Wormtail gets off easy. No idea why they had to spare his ass, like one more death would have bumped this to an R.

Alright, so The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 might not be on par with Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix, but it definitely isn’t disappointing either. It’s got the best acting yet, it’s the best looking of the bunch, and it’s still one hell of a story even if it’s just building up to something more. Chomping at the bit for everything to start coming full circle, but all good things in due time, I suppose. Well, it’s still nice to be that much more pumped for Part 2.

Can’t believe I have to wait until effing July though. I don’t know if I can hold out getting my lightning bolt facial tattoo for eight months.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 12:41 am

    Ugh! Still haven’t seen this one yet. It’s driving me insane hearing y’all talk about it! Super pumped to see it this week though.

    I am steamed that they cut the Dursleys. That was a great scene.

    I am anxious to see what the “sex” is like, if only cuz I wanna see Emma Watson in some form of undress, but, well I’ve said too much!

    Good review as always! July is too far off!

    • November 23, 2010 12:45 pm

      You said it, man. Eight months is ridiculous. And glad you said that about the Dursleys. Glad I’m not the only one who’s bummed to see that left out. And the “sex” scene sure was interesting alright. A bit odd how they go from clothed to bare-ass in an instant, but I guess it serves its purpose.

  2. lemon meringue copter permalink
    November 22, 2010 8:38 am

    Hogwarts!

  3. November 22, 2010 2:35 pm

    Just got my review up today as well and looks like we’re pretty much in agreement… with all the shortcomings, it does it’s job well… and that is makes us anticipate the final FINAL film all the more!

    Hey, I dug that animated scene, too… it’s almost so mesmerizing I kinda forgot I was watching an HP movie for a bit though.

    • November 23, 2010 12:47 pm

      Yeah, “mesmerizing’s” the word. Brought back memories of Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

    • December 2, 2010 1:23 pm

      It was quite dark, but now I’m hoping for a second sequence like it.

      • December 2, 2010 1:30 pm

        Yeah, the second half of the book is a whole lot better anyway. Definitely digging the dark tone that Yates is keeping up though. Just nervous about whether or not he’s going to include the final chapter of the last book, the one with Harry and his pals 15 years down the line.

  4. November 22, 2010 6:45 pm

    Killed my childhood ideals.

  5. November 22, 2010 8:27 pm

    Solid review, even if I wasn’t as big a fan. If you wanna hear something amusing, take a listen to The Matineecast where I catch mega-Potter-fan Nick Jobe unawares with how disappointed I was with this movie.

    • November 23, 2010 12:48 pm

      My p.o.s. computer at work won’t let me tune in, but will read your review. Can see how folks would have been disappointed with this.

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