Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I – A Review

As some of you will be aware, i spent well over a year of my life working at Hogwarts and the reward for that was an advanced ticket to the cast and crew screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. Well, i say cast and crew, but i found out last year that it is mainly crew and friends of the crew that go, as the majority of the main cast tend to skip out on this screening and wait for the premiere. Suckers! This screening was a full 5 days before the world premiere so, ha! It made no odds to my little brother mind you, as i managed to convince him that Ron’s stand in was actually Rupert Grint himself. So in his eyes, he was mixing with the stars! Right, enough of my babbling, onto the (hopefully, not too biased) review.

As we all know, Harry Potter is a global phenomenon. I have been to several parts of the globe where kids couldn’t speak a word of english, but could happily tell you the four houses of Hogwarts! It’s amazing. And the buzz of what would and wouldn’t be included in the final parts of the franchaise caused intense speculation on the web. Debates had been raging since the films announcement.

In some ways, I feel this buzz and passion transcended onto the set, and you could tell there was definitely an attempt by director David Yates to do the last book justice and keep in mind the story that needed to be told. I mean, it seemed that everyone was well aware that you can have all the effects and action in the world, but if you lose sight of the story, you don’t have a film. So how did all this hard work and effort turn out on screen?

In a nut shell, very well. (The following includes minor spoilers so please don’t read on if you haven’t read the book or are not interested in knowing what happens.) Deathly Hallows part one picks up with a warning that everything has changed. Voldemort’s army are attacking both humans and wizards and are slowly taking control. Harry and Hermione have had to pack up their remaining belongings and leave their homes. It is particularly tough for Hermione who has to not only leave her parents, but to also erase herself from their memories and become an orphan herself like Harry. What follows in the next 2 and a half hours could essentially be described as a road movie with magic. Deathly Hallows Part One is the build up to the final showdown between good and evil. The horcruxes introduced inThe Half Blood Prince need to be found, and it is up to our three heroes to find and destroy them. This is no easy task mind you. Voldemorts army are out to find Harry Potter and nobody can be trusted. We watch as they scour the country high and low for clues, constantly putting themselves in danger and ultimately getting caught by Bellatrix’s army.

The film definitely lives up to hype and it opens at such a pace that you are hooked from the start. I thought The Half Blood Princelost a little spark and strayed too far from the book, but that isn’t the case here. The “seven potters” sequence is truly breathtaking and let’s you know that you’re not in hogwarts anymore. Within the first 15 minutes, George loses an ear and mad eye moody is killed. The polyjuice sequence in the Ministry of Magic is epic but also provides a few laughs.

At 2 and half hours long, i was never once bored and that is saying something considering that almost everything you have seen before is absent from this film. There is no hogwarts, no quidditch and no kids except for a few brief appearances from our supporting cast. This is all about Harry, Ron and Hermione and there quest for the horcruxes and their persuit to destroy Voldemort.

The acting again betters the previous years efforts as do the special effects. There are some real tense moments the 3 main cast have to deal with, but they did a great job and you really feel for them and i’ll admit it, there were a few unexpected emotions flying about at the end. There were some great cameo appearances from the likes of Rhys Ifans who seemed like a top bloke, and Bill Nighy who was one of the nicest people i met on the set. Well, i say met. I think i just stared at him for a few days until he had no option but to say hello!

I did have a few issues with the film however, but these were the same issues i had with the book. I found the middle section seemed to drag on for far too long. This is where the bias of working on the film may come in, as i personally wasn’t bored by these sequences as it was a trip down memory lane. But one might find it a little tedious watching 3 kids on the hunt for horcruxes and on the run from you know who. I understand that this was such an important section of the book in terms of storyline, character development and the fact that it sets up a large part of what is to come later on in the story, but if you are not a hardcore fan of the books and maybe only watch the films for the fantasy elements, it may leave you sitting waiting for the next big set piece.

I couldn’t recall too many things missing from the book, except for a lack of explanation as to why the kids can be traced so easily. In the book it is because Voldemort can trace a person everytime they say his name, but there is no real reason given as to why they are being found so easily or why this suddenly stops. But they do start using “you know who” instead of Voldemort. Another thing that i found odd, but i believe to be the same as the book, was the lack of love for poor old Mad Eye Moody! There is a very sad moment towards the end of the film when a loveable character dies and you could tell most of the audience were welling up. Even big old Dean here got a bit emotional and had to be strong for his little brother’s sake. But when poor Mad Eye Moody kicks it after trying to do everything he can to save Harry, it’s like “. . . and we flew away from the deatheaters and they almost caught us but it’s ok cos we’re back. . . oh yeah, Mad Eye’s dead. What’s for dinner?”. I also got this same vibe in the book.

These are only personal gripes and have more to do with the book than the actual film itself. If the things i didn’t like about the film were not included, i’m sure the hardcore fans would have been more than upset because like i said before, you can have all the magic in the world, but without a good story you have no film.

So overall i felt The Deathly Hallows to be a success. It should be every Potter fans dream – It’s adventurous, fantastical and is a real spectacle. And on a personal note, i couldn’t tell you how proud i was to be associated with it and see my name come up in the closing credits. (About 6 minutes in if anyone stays that long!) The film definitely had a lot of story telling to do, but this sets up the Deathly Hallows Part 2 perfectly. And even though i’m not really a Potter fan, i can’t wait to see it. There were some longs days and nights spent filming filming the finale and it’s set pieces, and i’m positive it will be the perfect ending for most Potter fans!

Categories: Film, Reviews

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