A Little Hallow

by mr sparkle on November 19, 2010 · 3 comments

in Film,Media Rack

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.

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  • don

    See, I am a more-than-avid Potter fan, and I’m pretty sure I really liked this movie (I just saw it last night and only got a couple hours of sleep and I haven’t quite worked through it yet). I thought the cinematography fit the tone and content of the piece almost as much as Azkaban, and though I had reservations about Desplat doing the soundtrack it was really spare and subtle, which worked great. I think the choices about what to leave in/out were well done (especially since they had to go back and explain a few things they left out earlier unwittingly). I also assumed they would have huge problems with pacing because of the nature of the first half of the book, but it was well done and the action was appropriate (and kick-ass, might I add). Oh, and for some reason, I LOVED the animation sequence. So different from other Potters, and a great way to fill in back story and world-building, which, no matter how many sections of how long you divide a movie of these books, will always be problematic. Anyway, thanks for the review…

  • Erik

    Thanks for the review! I’ll definitely not see it now, since I absolutely hated the Half-Blood movie.

    While you didn’t make me go see the movie, your review totally helped me, and for that I am sincere when I say thank you.

  • Mike

    Just returned from the movie. I enjoyed it quite a lot, probably my second favorite after Azkaban, although I actually asked myself in the middle if I didn’t like it a bit better than Azkaban, but no I don’t think so. (I think I asked myself the same thing about the books while reading Deathly Hallows)I also felt that it at times was more about the scenery than telling a story, but overall it was very beautifully done and well acted and made me look forward to part 2. I liked the animation sequence OK, when Luna’s father mentioned the story I was half expecting a live-action cut, but as Beedle the Bard stories were primarily for kids I thought it was appropriate to portray it as animation. My daughter (15 years) who loves the books also loved the movie, my son (13 years) and wife who didn’t read the books but saw all the movies were lost much of the time but still enjoyed it. My main quibble was that the scenes in Godric’s Hollow were not well developed then we were dropped back into the rest of the story without much transition. After watching most of the movies rush through the stories, it was nice to have a good long unfolding. It wasn’t great but it was a different Harry Potter movie experience and very, very enjoyable for a fan of the books.

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