Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Directed by David Yates
The most recent Harry Potter may be the best so far – but hopefully not the peak of the series.
Let's get it out of the way early. Yes, making the film franchise of a seven-book series into eight movies is stretching it. While this movie may simply have been a filler before the (hopefully) epic finale, though, it was entertaining and action-packed, perhaps the best and darkest film so far.
Ironically enough, for a film that cut the book in half, it may have been the most accurate yet. This means, however, that if you haven't read the book, it will be difficult to keep up with the difference between Horcruxes and Hallows. And yes, the better part is spent on Harry and Hermione's dreary camping tour of England, but so was the book, and these scenes are not without amusement or charm.
Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) have finally begun their long-awaited journey for the Horcruxes. On this quest they will be tested like never before, facing up to their own insecurities, nationwide instability, fear for their families, and of course, the return of Voldemort.
As these iconic actors of our childhood have matured, so too have their abilities. The emotion in this film is more simmering than sudden, making their characters more relatable and likeable. For once, it's not all about Harry - Ron and Hermione's choices and consequences are just as important. Their relationship is also starting to emerge, but slowly, and so subtly you might miss it. In fact it's Harry and Hermione who appear more the couple.
The bleak English scenery reflects the even bleaker mission at hand: destroying all seven of Voldemort's Horcruxes without Dumbledore's - or the Order's - helping hand. This would be hard enough without the pressure of growing evil forces. What makes this movie so great is the action - the chaos at the wedding, the corruption of the Ministry, the destruction of the locket, and being caught by Snatchers.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard are told with particular beauty in the form of shadow puppetry. With more time to enjoy nuances such as these (yes, even with all the somewhat monotonous and repetitive camping), maybe the producers really were onto something other than money by splitting the story into two films.
The anticipation - such as in the scene with Nagini at Godric Hollow - is delightfully frightening. If the tension can keep you biting your nails in fear even when you know what's going to happen, that's got to be good drama. The overall effect is darker, scarier, and better. With one spectacularly heart-breaking death of a dear friend (and one less-than-devastating death to come), you will likely be moved to tears.
3.5 out of 5