Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Review

A warning: If you're reading this blog because you found me on twitter and you're accustomed to my teasertuesday entries, I apologize for expressing my inner nerd here. If you're reading this because I linked you from facebook then you are likely well aware of my long-standing nerdom for which I make no apologies.

That said...

For many of us rabid Potter fans, The Deathly Hallows is main course being served in preparation for the delicious, much anticipated desert. It is the first part of what we hope is a true representation of all the lush detailing Rowling gave us in the final book...resolutions to the conflict we'd considered for a decade. It goes without say that if you haven't read the books then the films will leave you will a sense that something is missing. Sadly, that's the nature of the beast. The films, while exciting and thrilling, simply can't compare to the magnitude of plot that cannot be experienced by letting your Potter journey begin and end in a theater.

Many aspects present in the books are, of course, missing in the film and some have previously been glossed over to accommodate time and budget. But the first part of Deathly Hallows, like films past, gets the job done and does it well.

I'll say this first and foremost, this film, as well as the previous one, Half Blood Price, has a decidedly dark overtone. This is not a trick of creative license on director David Yates' part, however, but rather a necessary expression of the tone and feel of the final two books. War is approaching. People die. Communities are seeing the ravages of impending doom because that is what happens when tyrants begin their dance of mayhem and violence.

Harry, Ron and Hermione have a job to do-- to find and destroy Horcruxes, objects containing parts of Voldemort's soul. Without doing away with these objects, killing The Dark Lord will be impossible. Since Dumbledore's death said Dark Lord and his minions have been doing their level best to find Harry, destroying whoever gets in their way in the process. Hence, all the death and violence.

The films walks in the shadow of the books. They skip along in the shadows of the detail Rowling has laid, but essential plot elements are still there: Harry leaves his Aunt and Uncle's home for the last time, though, I was disappointed that it was less dramatic than the Dursley's common muggle reaction in the book. The Seven Potters scene is wonderful, very funny and gives viewers a sense of Radcliffe's comedic timing. George Weasley's injury is verbatum to the book and done justice by Oliver and James Phelps, who are, let's be honest, the truest representation of the Weasley twins we could have ever hoped to see. Much of the film continues in this vein--some being perfect copies of Rowling's work, some skimming the surface of that perfection.

Now, because I was asked to give the goods, I'll say that those hoping for the small subtleties of the Ron/Hermione dynamic will not be disappointed. No, we have yet to see the grand romantic gesture yet (Hermione does not level her snog attack on Ron's face until the second half of the final film), we DO see some very obvious interest between the two. Yes, Juliana, there are many, many longing looks, you will particularly like when Hermione tries to teach Ron the piano and yes, it appears that the "they must have fallen asleep holding hands" bit is there indeed. Also, anticipate a collective "awe" from the entire auditorium when Ron explains how he found his way back to Hermione. Oh and yeah, there are loads of small touches and consolations.

Film Ron did not carry on in the 'exact' manner that book Ron did whilst Bella is torturing Hermione, but Grint was remarkable at expressing his characters desperation. And in that same vein, I'll say that of all the child actors to graduate from the Potter Academy of Film, Grint must be the valedictorian. He can say more with one look than some actors seasoned by fifty years of time and experience. The young man is remarkable, beyond talented and is heading for a lifetime of acting success. I look forward to seeing it.

Another note to my fellow nerds, the Riddle "Harry/Hermione" is astonishing. Trust me, you have not seen a Harry or Hermione like this. They emerge from the locket to taunt Ron in very weird pseudo forms, too perfect, too controlled and niggle Ron into overwhelming fury, particularly when they 'wrap' around each other and begin a smooch that is seductive, alluring and well, let's just say, I found it necessary to cover my seven-year-old's eyes whilst the snog fest went on and on.

Shining in a very tight second to Grint in way of performance is Emma Watson. I completely adore this young woman and have faith that should she decide to continue in her career, she'll thrive and succeed with grace and elegance.

And folks, you are fools if you do not bring along a hankie. Dobby the House Elf. I won't say more to that than, dear Lord, my eyes are absolutely leaking.

So, I'll end my geek fest by saying this: the first part of Deathly Hallows, while not filled with comedy or a large abundance of action, is what I expected, what pleased the die hard Potter book fan in me--the long withheld breath that fills the lungs, that anticipates the thrill ahead, just like a ride on a roller coaster where you can see the plunging dip ahead, where you know you'll soon be screaming and flailing your arms from the thrill of the ride. It's the breath you take before beginning a journey from which you're not certain you'll end unscathed.


Judy the Lovely said...

Spot on, Tee!

And, the snake...guh...scared the crap out of me on two occasions!

I, too, missed some of the lines that are so much a part of this last book...but, overall, I believe it was quite well done and building to a fabulous finale in July.

Judy the Lovely said...

Oh, yeah, a hint of bad-ass Neville!

RuthEDay said...

Thanks for this. I've been waiting for someone to post a review of this movie pretty much since I walked out of the theater last night. I remember with the first five Harry Potter films I always walked out of the theater disappointed but I think that was more because my expectations were too high. I always wanted them to put EVERYTHING in. Luckily, now I realize that that is impossible and not even desirable so I was able to enjoy the last two films a lot more. I am happy that some things will stay just for readers. I will be happy if after watching one of the films a non-reader will be confused but intrigued and therefore want to read the books. We wouldn't want the films to replace the books, would we?

TS Tate said...

Yeah, Judy, it was awesome...please let us have bad a Neville!! The snake was scary as heck, little bints had their hands over their eyes. Next time I go to a release I will be with you!! :P

Ruth, I couldn't agree more and I love your impression that high expectations will always make us disappointed in the films. That's my greatest hope as well!!

A. J. Larrieu said...

I'm in total agreement with you on Grint. That scene where he's trying to get in good with Hermione by agreeing to visit the Lovegoods, and he and Harry keep exchanging these little!

TS Tate said...

AJ, yes, he was amazing!!!

Greig said...

Hi tee. I thought the ending scene with Voldemort hovering over Dumbledore's corpse to steal his wand was an example of great cinematography.