This Harry Potter fan learned long ago not to get excited for the film adaptations of his most beloved of all book series. They’ve never been awful, but with one exception, they’ve never approached being as good as the source material. Still, last year’s Half-Blood Prince proved surprisingly adept at conveying the atmosphere I catch every time I crack open one of the books. Would the upward spiral continue with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1?
Not quite. But having entered without high expectations, I was able to enjoy it well enough.
After spending six years at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, the ever menacing threat of supreme dickhead Lord Voldemort has finally taken over the world! Harry, and his ever-trusty companions Ron and Hermione, are forced to go into hiding to stay safe – and as the only ones who know the secret to Voldemort’s immortality, they’re charged with finding a way to destroy him. DESTROY HIM!!
This seventh movie is the third consecutive to be directed by David Yates (he’ll also be held accountable for the last film, to be released next year, by Pottermaniacs around the world). Yates’ presentation of the world of Witches and Wizards had improved tenfold from his first film, The Order of the Phoenix, which hardly held the magic or stakes of the books, with Half-Blood Prince, a movie which at least felt like it was about actual sixteen-year-olds, and his approach hasn’t lessoned with the newest film.
His vision for the world improved overtime as well. The cinematography has always been too alienating in its use of cool colors (these movies are too, well, I’ll let YouTube tell you). And every still looks like it was photoshopped. But he’s improved over time – he’s gotten better at telling the story with the camera, instead of just building cool, elaborate sets (which are totally inappropriate compared to the kinetic chaos of the books, but I digress).
Overall, the approach Yates gives to movie seven is similar to movie six – big scenery, long takes with characters, and a dedication to the relationships of the three main characters. It’s not everything that I want out of a series I grew up with, but I really can’t complain. Aside from one sequence that makes my fanboy guts squirm (juvenile computer antimation for the Tales of Beedle the Bard? Blasphemy!), there’s nothing too egregious here.
It’s long passed the point where I can enjoy these movies as a cinephile – they totally exist for me as nothing more than recreations, so I guess the real question, as far as my experience goes, is how adequately it brings the experience of reading the books to the screen. I can’t say how the film will feel to Potter-newbs, but as a fan there’s not a lot here to chew on – neither Yates nor screenwriter Steve Kloves bring much new to the story, but the story from the books manages without adding many frills, I suppose.
I could nitpick the pros and cons of the movie do an absurd, useless degree (indeed, an hour-long trip home with a fellow HP-Geek after the screening delved to just such depths). But maybe the best way to look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is that it works as decent-enough surrogate through which I can relive the stories I adore oh so much. Yates reminds me of the chapters I rushed through as an over-excited 19-year-old, and though he rarely brings anything new to it, he does so competantly enough to avoid distracting me – most of the time.