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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – A Review

I feel as if I should get this out of the way: before Friday I was not much of  a Potter fan. I had read books 1-6 and seen films 1-3, as well as half of the last movie a few weeks ago. I had some fondness for the series as it was a part of my childhood, but ultimately, I didn’t care any more. I went along on Friday morning because I thought I should probably see this. And I’m glad I did.

What is most apparent about this latest installment is that it is not a movie for kids. Looking back on the old films, they very much are. As good as they are, they are for children. The Death Hallows is dark, it’s violent and it’s very grown up. And so are the actors – having not really seen them since they were about 14, in The Prisoner of Azkaban, it was a shock to suddenly realise that these are real people, and more importantly, they are very good actors. Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint are more than accomplished in roles that they have clearly grown comfortable with. Their performances seem effortless and cool. Whereas before, they seemed more concerned with remembering their lines than performing them convincingly, now they simply are Hermione, Harry and Ron.

The opening scenes of The Deathly Hallows tell us immediately that we aren’t in for an easy ride. We are privy to a Death Eaters meeting, complete with torture, murder and wand-breaking. The unfortunate recipient of which is Jason Isaacs’ (Hello!) Lucius Malfoy, father of the douchey Draco.

After this, we lose two of the most memorable characters from the series (who, I won’t reveal, but one is particularly heartbreaking), and the realisation that this is a dangerous, deadly world in which the characters exist.  There are clear parallels to the Nazis’ persecution of impure races and people; a real-life scenario that the makers have done well to mirror in this most fantastical of universes, as it adds vital emotional resonance and pathos to the story we are told.

As opposed to previous Potter stories, this is told far from the comfort of Hogwarts, as we follow our heroic triumvirate as they seek to destroy the horcruxes that hold the power to defeating, once and for all, Lord Voldemort, while avoiding the attention of bounty hunters, snakes disguised as friends, and general bad luck. The chemistry between the three leads is what keeps the story going; lesser performances from any of them would really damage the movie, as they really are the sole focus of the events we see.

It is important to note that this film only tells half a story, and the divide is chosen at an opportune moment – one that leaves the viewer wanting to see the rest of the story, while feeling satisfied with the story they have already been told.

Some critics have offered the opinion that there isn’t enough action on show, and that the majority of the film is boring. However, I would argue that the lack of action adds to the already-palpable tension, and only serves to make the impeccable moments of action all the more relieving and exciting.

The Deathly Hallows is, simply put, an excellent film. As someone who hasn’t followed the story for some five years, I picked up the story fairly comfortably and enjoyed what I was given. We have action, humour, romance, suspense, and the all important magic, and each element of the story is told as well as the next. If you haven’t watched a Potter film in years because they were too childish, this is the film you need to see. Compelling, dark and it ends on a cliffhanger. What more could you want?

9/10

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