Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1 Review

Do the filmmakers conjure up enough magic to make half a book into a full movie?

After over 12 years (13 if you are from the UK) it’s the beginning of the end for the Harry Potter franchise. The decision to release the final film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, into two parts was meant with mixed feelings from fans. While some agreed that it would be the only way to give the epic finale all the detail and content it deserved, more quickly wrote it off as an attempt for Warner Bros. to double their profits. Fuel was added to this fire by the fact that both halves were filmed and completed at the same time, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2 simply is not being released until July 15, 2011. Most fans were somewhere in the middle and agreed that while the film definitely needed to be split to do the book justice, eight months was simply too long of a layoff. I find myself in the latter camp and what makes the wait so much worse is that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1 holds up on its own as a very good movie.

(Note: For those who have not read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, this review may contain minor spoilers. All photos are property of Warner Bros.)

The first half of the final chapter (no pun intended) in the Harry Potter film series finds Harry, Ron, and Hermione left with the task of finding and destroying all of Voldemort’s horcruxes. The magical world that J. K. Rowling introduced to us so many years ago has transformed into a very dark place.

The break-in at the Ministry of Magic is a highlight of the film

Not only is Voldemort back and out for blood, but even the Ministry of Magic has changed policies to a blood-status apartheid. This is highlighted even more by the MoM seemingly exchanging all of their robes for a more Nazi-Germany inspired uniform. Harry Potter has become “Undesirable No. 1” so he, Ron, and Hermione find themselves having to hide out in the woods under protective charms. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson all give their best performances of the franchise by far. The camping scenes depicting the sexual tension caused by hormones and strain of a seemingly impossible task are not as much of a burden as they were in the book. The camping scenes break up the more plot specific scenes such as breaking into the Ministry of Magic, a trip to Godric’s Hollow, and the imprisoning of the trio at Malfoy mansion. These scenes are all very well and leaving the audience longing to see what some of the larger set pieces will look like in Part 2. My vote for best scenes goes to an animation that illustrates the origins of the deathly hallows.

As previously mentioned, the main cast of Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson are the stand-out stars. Not to take anything away from the young stars, but this may be due to the fact that they have the majority of the 147 minutes of screentime. Alan Rickman only has one scene as Snape and still leads the audience hanging on every word. Bill Nighy and Helena Carter are both fantastic as Rufus Scrimgeour and Bellatrix Lestrange respectively but once again, do not have much time on screen. Ralph Finnes is once again frightening as Lord Voldemort.

I expect most people to leave Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1 disappointed. Not because the film is bad, not by any means. Audiences will be disappointed because of how long the next eight months are going to feel for fans of the series. Like a waiter taking away your meal right after you take a few bites, Part 1 leaves you longing for more. If you’ve seen the previous movies, then you must see this one. If you haven’t seen the previous movies, watch them all first, read all the books, and then see this movie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1 gets a 4/5