Well here we go, finally the last Harry Potter movie ever… What the… Part 1?
Yep the final instalment in the Potter phenomenon has, à la Kill Bill, been divided into two parts. The cynical might say that this is to eke out the maximum profits of the franchise while they can and they would probably be right, but there is enough plot, just, to warrant it. This first instalment runs to almost 2 and a half hours and it really only dragged a little in the middle.
At this point I think it is worth mentioning that I am not Potter potty, I enjoy the films but do not usually go out of my way to see them. I have also not read the book; I gave up on the books around number 4, so I cannot give any comments regarding how well it has been adapted. However I do tend to enjoy film adaptations more so when I have not read the book and enjoy this film I did.
So what do we get in part 1? Well (grave voice now) “War has started” and Voldemort’s Death Eaters have taken control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts and, in Orwellian style, arrest, question and dispatch anyone who might oppose them. So amongst the wizarding community fear and paranoia is aplenty and Potter, with the Dursley’s having got out of Dodge, is left alone in an empty 4 Privet Drive. However fear not as the (remaining) good guys duly turn up to whisk him off to safety… and straight into a very dramatic and exciting opening chase scene.
And that is effectively what this movie is, a chase movie, with the trio pursued at every quarter. Apart from permitting a lot of disapparating and in turn beautiful landscapes to be on display, the three on the run and with no-one to trust, mean it really is the Harry, Ron and Hermione show. HRH, true Brit royalty, must alone track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s immortality, the Horcruxes. During the search for them they stumble upon the legend of the Deathly Hallows, nicely depicted in a charming animation, and discover that should Voldemort get his hands on them it will spell disaster for everyone.
For HRH, the early awkward, pimply, can’t act for toffee kid years seem a distant past now as the three have grown into assured (well Hermione anyway) young adults who, although won’t win any Oscars, are convincing enough in their roles. The rest of the cast play only fleeting roles but put in strong performances nonetheless. I continue to enjoy Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of the suitably kookie Bellatrix Lestrange. However, a bit disappointing were the newcomers to the Brit luvvie party, Bill Nighy and Rhys Ifans who I felt were not at their finest.
The story, like the cast, has grown up too and this instalment is the darkest yet. Sure there is some of the usual good humour mixed in but don’t expect anything heart-warming. This is a darkly magical tale.
The film is full of wondrous cinematography, spellbinding special effects and stunning scenery but it does feel that the plot has suffered for being split in two.
Maybe a bit of trimming, the HRH love triangle thing is just plain annoying and too reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, and splicing with the concluding part would result in a superior film. But we will not be able to tell until we’ve seen the final part and you do leave this film eagerly anticipating that last Harry Potter movie ever… and hell that had better deliver.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is out in UK cinemas 19th November 2010.
Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy
Runtime: 146 min
Country: UK, USA