Film review: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

Warning: rambling and Harry Potter spoilers ensue!

I took advantage of the 2-for-1 Wednesday offer at the cinema last week and went to see the latest Harry Potter, dragging along with me a friend who hasn’t read any of the books and has only seen the first two films. Needless to say, I expected to have to whisper explanations into her ear every few minutes and therefore was pleasantly surprised when the film not only stayed rather true to the book, but did so whilst working in mini explanations for the non-HP nerds in the audience.

First: I have to confess to being a closet HP nerd. I’ve read all the books multiple times, I’ve read the fanfics (and written a few!), and even have a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. But so far I’ve remained largely unimpressed by the films, although Goblet of Fire was enjoyable. There are some good actors, though, like Alan Rickman (as Snape) and Helen Bonham Carter (as Bellatrix).

So what did I think of DH? Well, to be quite honest I’m still not sure.

Right from the start you’re made very aware of the approaching war. They show Hermione obliviating her parents, dire newspaper headlines, a Death Eater meeting, and even the Dursleys packing up and leaving Privet Drive. Harry is preparing to leave home since it’s no longer safe, and the OotP arrive at his house to execute a cunning plan to get him out safely. (The scene were everyone takes polyjuice potion is pretty funny, but let me say Daniel Radcliffe should NEVER take his top off again.)

With the Death Eaters lurking outside, Harry and his friends are set upon immediately, and what follows is a thrilling flying action scene which kind of reminded me of James Bond car chases. Then we’re back to the silences, the tension, until Fleur and Bill’s wedding when there’s another attack. Harry, Hermione and Ron manage to escape and end up in central Muggle London (woo! I love recognising streets!), only to be attacked again minutes later. They spend the rest of the film on the run, camping in the wilderness, trying to hunt down the horcruxes whilst staying ahead of Voldemort’s snatchers.

Something I found odd was there there’s next to no music; this is a film about silences and the anxious wait before war. I enjoyed the action scenes — and in particular, the scenes in the forest with the Snatchers — but other times was a little bored when it was just the trio camping in the forest feeling miserable about life. The suspense really ebbs and flows, and it didn’t quite work for me. To be fair, the film was very true to the book, but what was supposed to be silent tension felt more like awkwardness to me. From what I’ve heard, this mixture of slow and fast pacing is the dividing issue about the film version: people either love it or hate it.

Now I’ve said that the film was true to the book and that’s true in that they didn’t add in many random scenes (eg, the ridiculous superfluous dragon-chase-sequence in GOF), BUT they did miss out on a lot of smaller storylines, which surprised me: I thought the point of having 2 parts was to include more of the story!

For example: Bill and Fleur. This was missed out in earlier films too, so I guess it makes sense they cut it down. But they barely mentioned his werewolf affliction and the wedding lasted all of 2 seconds. Also, I don’t think the Deathly Hallows were well-explained. I liked how they included the Tale of Three Brothers, but Harry’s visions of Voldemort were pretty unclear, particularly for my friend who had no clue what was going on.

Also, if you think about it the first half of Deathly Hallows IS pretty dull. Many of the exciting bits happen in the second half, when they figure out what they’re doing — and the film ends right before that, at the moment when Voldemort gets the Elder Wand and the trio have arrived at Shell Cottage. It felt a little disappointing to have the film end there because a lot happened, but not much of it moved the plot forward.

Okay, I’ll cut my rambling short. In sum: overall, while I have mixed feelings about the film I still think it is one of the better HP films made so far. And I definitely think Part 2 is going to be AWESOME!

Have you seen it? What did you think?

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About A.M. Harte

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.
This entry was posted in Book Chat, Ze Miscellaneous and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Film review: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

  1. Jack Ruttan says:

    I thought the book read like an outline for a screenplay. Gonna see the film, eventually, of course, but I don’t know if they can’t make THAT work!

  2. Najela says:

    I saw it twice and I thought it was pretty epic when I was in the movies. Now that I’m kinda back in reality, it’s was okay. I waited to see all the films after all the books came out and all the movies came out (technically I cheated, but since it’s part 1 of a whole movie I went to see it anyway). It was okay. I will always be a fan of the books, but it was interesting to see the story in a different medium.

    I’m surprised you didn’t freak out about the make out scene. There are so many people freaking out about it and I just thought that it was funny. Out of all the things that Ron is scared of, that was the one that set him off…

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