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Movie Review: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1"

By It's My Life on November 22, 2010 11:58 AM | No TrackBacks

So, have you seen it yet? We're sure many of you did. It's always fun to catch a big movie like HP7.1 on opening weekend, when the theatre's full of excited fans and everyone's talking about it. What did you think? Here's our opinion!

Heads up: we won't really give away anything about the story or any surprises in the movie, but you still may want to wait until after you've seen it before you read our review.

We liked:

deathly-hallows-still.jpgDaniel, Rupert, and Emma. My, how they've grown. It's hard to believe that we met these three when they were barely tweens. Everything they've been through in real life is a great foundation for them to portray what their characters go through together. We really enjoyed watching them (even though many of the scenes, with Harry, Ron, and Hermione dressed in stylin' winter layers, looked a little like the L.L. Bean catalog) and the movie made us feel like we, the audience, are the fourth member of this evil-fighting team.

Tense drama. Okay, watching this movie was a little stressful for us...but in a good way. There's a lot at stake in the story, and the film does a great job of setting that up. Dangers lurk in every shadow, friendships may or may not stand up to the pressure, and the future of the world is really on the line. Juicy!

Polyjuice comedy. There are some truly wonderful comedic moments here and there to lighten up all that seriousness, and a good number of them come thanks to the appearance-altering effects of polyjuice potion, the liquid disguise kit of the HP world. We laughed out loud at the "multiple Harrys" scene, and really enjoyed all the funny and scary moments when our three heroes assume false identities to infiltrate the Ministry. Not since Hermione accidentally turned herself into a cat-girl in HP2 has a magical potion been this much fun.

Dobby. The character of Dobby the House Elf was played mostly for laughs when he first appeared in HP2, but in this film he proves himself to be an important and unforgettable part of the Harry Potter saga. CG effects have gotten better since we first saw him too, and that helps a lot.

Animation. In an HP movie first, a key part of the story is told with the use of striking, stylized 2-D computer animation. It's an interesting and really cool directorial choice.

Not so much:

Great characters gone AWOL. Harry, Ron and Hermione have always been the "big three" of every Harry Potter film, but in this story they truly go it alone, spending most of their time isolated from the friends, teachers, and family members who have helped them out in the past. This was actually one of our biggest gripes about the book, too. We can't help but want to see what's going on with Hagrid, Professor McGonigle, Neville Longbottom, Fred and George...all of whom have very small cameos or are absent completely. Some of our favorite moments from the past six films came from these characters, and to leave them out feels a bit like leaving out all the sugar and spice from a recipe...it's still as filling, but not as tasty. We'll just have to wait until Part 2 to see them again!

No Hogwarts. We get barely a glimpse of our favorite school of witchcraft and wizardry in this half of Book 7. Harry and company can't go back there, of course, because Dumbledore can't protect them anymore and the school, like the ministry, has fallen under the control of the baddies. So we get the reason they have to stay away...but we still don't really like it. Hogwarts has been the heart and soul of the Harry Potter story for six books and six films, and we feel a little lost without the grounded sense of place the great castle provides. It doesn't help that H, R & H spend most of the movie randomly apparating from place to place, making our head spin. There's no room in this story for the typical "high school" fun and romantic dramas that made the last couple flicks so relatable, aside from a few sweet moments between crushes and friends (our favorite was Harry and Hermione dancing). We're a little sad about that, even though we understand.

Wands, wands, wands. This wand, that wand, the other wand...there are just too many wands in this story, which often feels like a big, convoluted game of follow-the-wand.

deathly-hallows-still2.jpgTrying to remember. It's been more than two years since we read the book this movie is based on, and we didn't have time for a refresher before heading to the theater, which is too bad. We spent a lot of our time trying to recall bits of the book so we could appreciate what was happening onscreen, and we were forced to wonder if people who never read the novel could make sense of any of it. It seems like the other movies did a much better job of filling in the important story points for every type of audience member.

Wanting more. Yeah, even given all our criticisms and nit-picking, we really enjoyed this movie because we adore these characters and we know it's setting everything up for the amazing grand HP finale. Ugh, do we really have to wait until summer 2011 to see the rest of it? Oh well..it will give us something to look forward to, and will put off the disappointment we'll inevitably feel when there are no new Harry Potter films to talk about!

IML's Rating: B





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