Wow. Just… wow. Call me mad, but I think we have quite an astounding feat here. The Harry Potter movies have got to be the most persevering franchise of this generation, bar none. I grew up watching these movies, and you know what, they’ve been fun. All of them. None of them I will admit are perfect, yet none of them I can say are downright terrible either. Some have obviously been better than others, and while it’s always been a struggle to adapt J.K. Rowling’s original vision, what’s really important, the heart and spirit behind Harry Potter and this magical story, has been there for a good 6, now 7, movies. With the first half of the final chapter finally upon us, it’s time to see what exactly all this hard work and perseverance has lead to.
To begin, as far as plot goes, I have no qualms with declaring that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is possibly the most faithful page-to-screen adaptation of all the Harry Potter movies to date. Every single quintessential scene worth mentioning from Chapters 1-23 of J. K. Rowling’s original book, give or take a ghoul or two, is present and accounted for. For that, I believe we can thank all those whiny purists for throwing such huge hissy fits for how much got cut/altered in the last film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Which REALLY wasn’t that bad of a movie, dammit). Now, I’m not going to penalize this film for following its source material, but I feel it’s worth mentioning that I was actually quite curious to see if and what changes they would have made, because for many readers, Chris Pranger included, the first half of The Deathly Hallows isn’t exactly a highlight of the series. We have this huge conflict that is erupting: The Minister of Magic is killed, the Death Eaters take over Hogwarts School, and He Who Must Not Be Named is hot on the trail for the weapon that will make him invincible. This all sounds great, except we only see glimpses of it, because the movie is busy showing us our three heroes hiding from said conflict so they can make some progress in their little scavenger hunt that’s eventually suppose to pay off in the next movie.
This would be a problem if you don’t enjoy watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione camping out, scheming, plotting, fighting amongst themselves, and getting back together just in time to figure out how to destroy the horcruxes, but fortunately for me, I do. You get three personalities, whose friendship we’ve seen evolve through the course of six movies, mixed with the symbolism of a wizard born, a half born, and a muggle born all fighting together for one common goal. It’s at the point where I can’t even pick a favorite anymore. All three of them are likeable, endearing, and sympathetic in their own way, and likewise for the two actors and actress who play them. I believe a lot of the appeal for me comes from the fact that these actors are my exact age: Dan Radcliffe (Harry) and I are the same, Rupert Grint (Ron) is a year older, and Emma Watson (Hermione) is a year younger. I know I don’t really know these guys in the slightest, yet I feel like I have literally grown up with them, seeing them improve their performances with each passing film in what has culminated almost half of our… I mean ‘their’ entire lives devoted to this franchise. On behalf of an entire 9-year-long legion of fans, I only wish I could give them a whole-hearted “thank you” for sticking with something so ambitious and so ridiculously demanding for so long.
The rest of the cast are all here, and just as awesome as you remember them: The half-giant, the mad eye, the good werewolf, the bad werewolf, the twins, the loony girl, even the elves make their long waited return. And just when you thought there were enough characters, we have a few new ones, including finally seeing Ron’s oldest brother, the loony girl’s father, the late Dumbledore’s rival whom you might remember the name to from a certain chocolate frog card, and some sleaze whose only purpose is to make things more difficult than they already were.
Visually, the movie without a doubt brings the pages to life. The set pieces are astounding, and there are a good handful of high intense action scenes that make the most of the film’s top-notch special effects. I won’t give away anything, but one in particular I found quite surprising happens when our heroes discover the identity of the Deathly Hallows themselves. Check it out, it’s pretty sweet.
Before I end this review, I think it’s important that I bring up the slight controversy surrounding the decision to split the final chapter into two halves in the first place. While you can look at it as if the people at Warner Bros. are being cheapskates looking to cash in on double the showings, keep in mind this is the ending of a franchise that’s been going on for almost a decade now. After what I just saw, and the amount of detail director David Yates put into following the source material so closely, I strongly get the feeling that the creators have the best intentions. They could have churned out the final chapter in one film, and it would feel severely rushed, with all the finer details and plot threads not getting the closure they disserve. No, they want to finish these films off the right way. With that being said, is the ending a cliffhanger? Merlin’s Beard yes. Does it leave you wanting more? Of course it does. But is it still obvious enough that those of us who’ve read the book should have seen it coming a mile away? I would hope so. In fact, I remember months ago my friends and I speculating on when Part 1 would end, and low and behold it was EXACTLY where I predicted it would be. If only I was playing the lottery on that.
As of now, all of you have probably made up your mind already whether or not you’re going to see this movie, and there is really little I could say to change your mind. With that being said, not bad. Not bad at all. Good job David Yates. Great job Dan, Rupert, and Emma. Awesome job everyone else. All that’s left now is for us to wait another 8 months for the final showdown, when I get to see, [not so] SPOILER ALERT, a certain nerdy character take a certain magical weapon to a certain hideous creature’s head in a certain bad@$$ fashion.
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