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  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 | Review

    By | November 18, 2010

    Director: David Yates

    Writers: Steve Kloves (screenplay), J.K. Rowling (novel)

    Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes

    Before I begin, I should clarify that I did not like any of the first six Harry Potter films. I read each book prior to seeing the related film and I felt as though all of the films left out very important material from the books (this was way beyond the films not being as good as the books — because how could that be possible?); and none of the six films — except for maybe Alfonso Cuarón’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — truly represented the mood of the books. They all felt amazingly incoherent, very light and obnoxiously humorous, obviously created for the lowest common denominator.

    First and foremost, if the audience had not read the books they would be totally lost by the flighty (borderline nonsensical) narratives of the films. I decided to finally test this theory on my own, so for David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 I opted not to read the book prior to watching the movie. The result: my theory has been confirmed. As much as I disliked the first six films, at least I could fill in all of the narrative holes with my knowledge from reading the books. I absolutely hated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 because I did not know what the hell was going on. (I will definitely read the book before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is released.)

    Well, okay, I am exaggerating a bit…I had some idea about what was going on. As with the other six films, there is a very simple and shallow narrative that is fairly discernible. These are dark times. Post Dumbledore’s death, Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) power has increased to a nearly insurmountable level; therefore Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is in much more danger than usual (the entire world is in danger too!). Harry’s (and thus the world’s!) only hope for survival is to destroy Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes (talismans) — but first he has to find them and figure out how to destroy each one.

    Oh, and what are the Deathly Hallows you ask? Well, Luna Lovegood’s (Evanna Lynch) father Xenophilius (Rhys Ifans) explains that the mythical Deathly Hallows are three sacred objects: the Resurrection Stone, Elder Wand, and Invisibility Cloak. Harry focuses solely on destroying the Horcruxes, while Voldemort obsesses about finding the Deathly Hallows.

    For a majority of the film, the supporting cast is pushed more to the periphery of the narrative than usual and we are stuck following Harry, Ron and Hermione (and, for a short while, only Harry and Hermione). Additionally, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the first film which is not centered around the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Instead Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) spend of the majority of the film camping in random locales (forests, riverbanks and seasides) of a seemingly post-apocalyptic Muggle world just waiting for something to happen. There is a lot of waiting and a lot of petty bickering.

    There is one ridiculous scene which is not in the book (or so I have been informed): Harry and Hermione dance together to Nick Cave’s “O Children”. There is also a cringe-worthy scene in which Ron watches Harry and Hermione make out while naked (don’t worry, all of the naughty bits are blurred out). Both scenes seem like a very obvious ploy to create a faux love triangle and stir up some unnecessary sexual tension between Harry, Hermione and Ron.

    I do have to write one compliment about Deathly Hallows: Part 1 — so here we go: it is visually amazing. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is by far the best looking of the Harry Potter films; cinematography, special effects and set design are near-perfect. (Maybe it has something to do with Hogwarts not being in this picture? I never did like the way Hogwarts was visually rendered in the films.)

    We will have to wait and see if Part 2 redeems this dreadful theatrical franchise. (I gave up hope that this franchise could be redeemed many years ago!) Then, after Part 2, we can commence pondering how the eight films will stand up many years down the line. (Chris Columbus’ Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets have already aged quite poorly in less than 10 years.) Nonetheless, the literary incarnation of Harry Potter — which I consider to be one of the better works of young adult fiction — will probably continue to endure for a long time to come.

    Rating: 4/10

    Topics: Film Reviews, News | 8 Comments »

    • JP Chapman

      I firmly believe that Don Simpson hates children and anything that may bring them joy.

    • James Eaton

      Your reviews blow. Stick to your arthouse reviews, Simpson. Nobody goes and sees that crap anyways, so your reviews are perfect for them. You are a disappointment for a human being.

    • http://smellslikescreenspirit.com Dave Campbell

      Let’s keep the personal attacks off the site. I understand that not everyone shares the same opinions, but getting emotionally charged up enough to attack someone over it isn’t acceptable. I’d love to read your thoughts on why you disagree rather than low brow attacks. A simple “I disagree, and this is why” would be a tactful way provide your own take with reasons for your opinion. I have an opinion that is extremely different that Don’s on this film, but that doesn’t make his any less valid. In the future keep things civil and respectful.

      I personally welcome you back to respectfully reply.

      Dave Campbell
      Editor-In-Chief | Smells Like Screen Spirit

    • James Eaton

      Dave, delete my comment. I think you made this out to be a bit of a bigger issue as I did this a bit tongue in cheek for JP, but apologies nonetheless. Obviously, tough for the wry comments to bleed through, with that being said, delete away. I am a bit puzzled why you would want Don to review a movie like Harry Potter anyways as it appears that him doing this is contrived. Don has shown over multiple reviews that franchise movies or non-artsy movies, aren’t his cup of tea. His review of HP seems to be a chess move or a lightning rod type of decision.

    • http://smellslikescreenspirit.com Dave Campbell

      I only took your comments for what they were; a lack of class. If you want to joke around and be tongue-in-cheek with someone, it’s better that they first know who the hell you are, and second be in on the joke. In life and on this site I welcome varying opinions, which is why I had no issue publishing yours. Only assigning a writer to cover a film because I know they will like it isn’t being very honest. Just so you are aware, JP was also assigned the task of covering HP7.1, and his review is quite the opposite of Don’s. Don submitted his review before JP and I was happy to see two completely different perspectives. There have been various people today that commented on our Facebook page saying how they were happy to finally find someone that felt the same way that they do about the HP series. Regardless of the fact that I disagree with Don, it makes me feel good that some of our readers connected with Don and his thoughts about the movie. That’s what this is really all about.

      Dave Campbell
      Editor-In-Chief | Smells Like Screen Spirit

    • Linc Leifeste

      I have to say that I am pretty much in agreement with Don’s take on the HP film series. That said, I also firmly believe that he hates children and anything that might bring them joy.

    • Kyle Byrnes

      There’s one part of your review that you got wrong. Those of us who have read the book know that Ron actually did see Harry and Hermione making out inside the horcrux and the sexual tension between the three characters is in the book as well. That’s actually the reason Rowling gives for Ron leaving.

    • Rosie Wilson

      It never ceases to amaze and amuse me, this business of public vs critic opinion. It matters very little to the public if a critic likes or dislikes a movie. It is not to say that the critic is wrong but he/she must remember that the bottom line is simply whether the public is willing to pay to see the movie. I saw the movie and found it followed the book closely. Hey people, everyone has an opinion. Live and let live and get over it.