Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part One
Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Review: 2 stars (of five) (three, maybe, if you’re already a fan)
Deathly bore. It’s the obvious snark, but I’m not afraid to go with it.
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part One, god help us) looks and feels pretty much like all the films that came before it: Underlit yet oversaturated, replete with darkly fanciful special effects. The cast is earnest or sinister, depending upon the role, and whatever problem Harry & Co. come up against, it’s going to take months and months to be resolved. All of this is good—it’s professional quality stuff, and it all fits in with the past installments. We are great fans of craft here at Badmouth.
Alas, we are also fans of stuff actually happening, at regular intervals, as part of a coherent plot. This is where we fell off Witch Mountain. The film begins with Harry and all his many good allies worried about the return of Voldemort (who must’ve returned in the last film—there’s absolutely no effort to remind people of the events or mythologies of the overall story). Harry goes into hiding, and then spends months and months (feeling like hours and hours of screen time) hiding mopily in the woods and going on little excursions whose value can only be understood if you’ve memorized every word J.K. Rowling ever wrote. Then it ends, with no resolution because it’s “Part One.” Of only Two, fortunately.
There’s really not much else to say. If you like the past films, you’ll like the performances and setting of this one just as much. If you need to be reminded of the salient points (such as what’s a “horcrux” and why must they be destroyed), or if you want to see more than moping and hiding for the ninety minutes in the middle of the film, well, you’re out of luck.
Warner Brothers decided to divide the five-million-page final Potter novel into two films, both to allow it to be as slavishly faithful to the source material as its many diehard fans demand, and to milk two blockbusters out of it. Can’t blame ‘em for the latter, but on the former, it was a bad call. You could’ve taken the rather exciting opening, the one interesting scene in the middle (infiltrating a newly fascistic Ministry of Magic) and the final confrontation in under an hour, then wrapped the whole thing up with whatever’s worth keeping from the second half of the book. Ah well.
At least the brooding little bugger doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight.*
* That’s a guess. There’s actually no sunlight in the entire film, which, being set in England, is either “overcast” or “night.” Was there any sunlight in any of the earlier films?