Here we stand, at the penultimate chapter of what has become one of the most loved franchises of all time, as well as the most profitable. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and co have grown and matured right before our very eyes and its this new-found maturity which shines through in this; the first film of the final book in the Harry Potter saga.
Deathly Hallows Part 1 is once again helmed by silver screen novice David Yates and after his disastrous attempt at fashioning a movie out of the Half Blood Prince; chills were beginning to set in when his name appeared alongside the huge advertising campaign. However, after 146 magical minutes, those niggling doubts were soon erased.
The Harry Potter series had become somewhat like a trusty old steed, you know it’s going to be there for you when its supposed to, but it no longer fills you with the same excitement it once did. However, I am pleased to announce that a completely new direction of filmmaking, albeit a little late, has revitalised the series.
For any of you out there who haven’t read the book or haven’t kept up with the films thus far, good luck understanding the many twist and turns as the plot throws you from scene to scene in a melee of storylines that are incomprehensible for anyone coming to the series for the first time. This is not to say it becomes a muddled mess, however. Gladly, criticisms are really kept to a bare minimum as Radcliffe, Watson and Grint move away from the once safe haven of Hogwarts and attempt to find the elusive horcruxes that were introduced in the previous film.
Moving the trio completely away from Hogwarts was a dangerous move by J.K Rowling but thankfully David Yates has managed to make it work with references about the films humble beginnings throughout. Unfortunately, this lack of solid ground has meant that many of the saga’s most precious actors and actresses are given very little screen time, allowing the suspense to build up for what is coming next year. Dame Maggie Smith is missing completely and even Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter and Robbie Coltrane rarely have more than few words to say when they are on screen. On the plus side, Imelda Staunton and David Thewlis make a welcome return as Delores Umbridge and Remus Lupin respectively, proving their worth to the series with some great acting.
Ralph Fiennes obviously returning as Dark Lord Voldemort is fantastic and very much welcome after being absent from the 6th film.
Some new additions, including Rhys Ifans portrayal of Xenophilius Lovegood feel a little laboured and whilst being no means a bad actor, Ifans doesn’t fully suit the role and therefore leaves the scenes involving Mr. Lovegood wanting which is a shame because in the book, he became one of the most promising characters.
Praise must go to the special effects team who have been working on this latest instalment of the Potter saga. They are integrated so seamlessly into the film that you hardly even notice they are there; they are literally that perfect and work exceptionally well with David Yates’ fantastic cinematography and stunning scenery which is alongside Prisoner of Azkaban as the best in the series.
The climax is a little disappointing and abrupt but due to the film being 2 parts of 1 book; a natural ending was never on the cards. However, the filmmakers have definitely chosen a spot which will have audiences shouting at the screen in dismay after realising their final Harry Potter fix will not be in cinemas until July next year.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is by far the most beautifully shot movie of 2010 and has some amazing action pieces coupled with fantastic special effects and mesmerising performances from practically every actor and actress involved who looked like they really wanted to be in their roles. Prisoner of Azkaban still clinches best film in the series so far but fans will certainly not be left wanting with this stunning take on J.K. Rowling’s final book.