Doesn’t This Sound Magical

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
Spoilers: none


It was ten years ago that the first Harry Potter burst onto the screen. Created from the books by J.K. Rowling that gave them life, the series has gone far. These are the same books, we are told, which have hoisted up the literacy of an entire generation of text-speak junkies and kids who wear their jeans too tight around their calves.

Do the movies measure up to the books? That only the fans themselves can answer. In light of the previous movies, dare we ask: Will this Harry Potter have more emotional depth instead of the usual teenaged, after school-ish-ness? That's the question. The answer: Well, perhaps, but who's to say? The fans cannot totally agree amongst themselves. 

To think that all this time of these books teaching kids how to read (and for the boys, how to masturbate over Hermione Granger until their wieners were sore) has brought us so, so far. The boys learned for themselves the best self-poking techniques experimenting over still-shots of Granger. But here we are, now at the end of the Potter series, but not quite the end. An unnecessary Part 2 to this film is still to break forth as the Deathly Hallows finale has been set up for late next year.

Beginning with boastful tones of gray-blue lighting, this runner-up to the final production makes not even a perfunctory effort to bring new viewers up to speed. What’s new, right? But Deathly Hallows is fairly exciting except when it's not boring, but as usual, it is incomprehensible to non-fans who haven't followed the series. Not being a loyal follower, I had no clear idea what anything meant or what was going on beyond a group of bad magic-users wanting Harry dead.

Harry is the accepted chosen one, but everyone always has to bail ole' Harry out of trouble, and that hasn't changed. These students get to spend so much time together that it’s downright amazing that note-writing, crush flare-ups, and other expected snaps of immaturity haven’t done them in already.

Deathly Hallows has the look of a War World II movie. The passion is still alive in the beloved and now more mature cast offering up solid performances, but the setting works against them too often. The small interludes of humor are not totally unwelcome in a film so ceremoniously grim, with its treeless and barren landscapes. 

There are some playful hints at romance in between the intervals of referencing events from past movies and solving clues concerning sacred artifacts. These are another welcome bit in this last big endeavor that is really supposed to amaze Potter fans with good directing. Good directing?

Well, it's a mixed bag; Granger has been cut back on. She takes a noticeably pulled back role in most scenes she is in. The rest of the lads seem to be cycled in and out in terms of immediate plot importance and script-utilized relevance. Scenes of terror are brought in deceptively. You don't see them coming, and then – “Boom!” – they are done with. But there's not much magic, hardly any at all. One wonders how the 150 million dollar budget was ever used. Doesn't feel like it.

Following Dumbledore on the magic newspapers, seeing specter beasts, and otherwise trying to keep from becoming snake food at the hands of those who want him's really not that interesting, especially when the kiddos keep surviving all these potentially lethal encounters with evil-ascended masters of wizardry before resuming the wizard school-based drama as though nothing happened.

A necklace leads to the revelation of the tale of the deathly hallows and its meaning, which is the single moment toward the film’s end at which things come closest to actually making sense. And then there’s the cliffhanger to leave us all wondering and waiting for perhaps a whole year to see the big finale. I, for one, can totally wait. 

It's long and close to boring, with the promise of yet more of this crud that everyone who already knew how to read by the late-90s and early 2000s has no problem seeing drop off the edge of the earth. Here's a parting question, though: Why doesn't Harry just use his magic to make himself not need glasses?



Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images, and brief sensuality)
Director: David Yates
Summary: As Harry races against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes, he uncovers the existence of three most powerful objects in the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.
Starring: Bill Nighy "Rufus Scrimgeour," Emma Watson "Hermione Granger," Richard Griffiths "Vernon Dursley," Harry Melling "Dudley Dursley," Daniel Radcliffe "Harry Potter," Julie Walters "Molly Weasley," Bonnie Wright "Ginny Weasley," Rupert Grint "Ron Weasley"
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Mystery