Monday, December 13, 2010

REVIEW MOVIE Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1


As everyone should now well know, the bringers of all the bad weather to come will be the nefarious Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters. Having done away with Harry's longtime mentor Dumbledore at the close of The Half-Blood Prince, the villains of the tale are now poised for complete domination.
Knowing he has been marked for death by Voldemort, Harry's only chance of survival is to embark upon an arduous trek that will take him far away from Hogwarts.
The ultimate goal of this odyssey is to find and destroy a series of elusive magical objects known as the Horcruxes.
Should Harry complete his mission, Voldemort will vanish forever. However, nothing in The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is as cut and dried as it seems. And nor will the most pressing matters be resolved in anything resembling a hurry.
After all, there are many familiar faces - major and minor, good and bad - from across the series to bid farewell.
And by virtue of all the extra time at the filmmakers' disposal, an opportunity to cram in almost every last detail of Rowling's writing has been taken.
Purists who have always felt the Potter films were too rushed compared to the books will be delighted by the sheer depth of material that makes it to the screen here.
However, with the Hogwarts school no longer serving as a friendly, familiar backdrop for the story, the look and feel of Deathly Hallows is much darker and less accessible than any prior Potter picture.
The first act, which is certainly no easygoing picnic, at least does showcase the film at its most lively and exciting.
A sequence where Harry escapes a Death Eater ambush is sure to become an all-time favourite with fans. Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) persuades several of Harry's friends to drink a potion that will make them all look like the bespectacled boy-wonder.
A thrilling night-time chase across the skies follows, with the infuriated Death Eaters (zooming about like comets fired from a crematorium) unable to tell who is the real Potter.
Later, with Harry, Hermione and Ron fully committed to their marathon pursuit of the Horcruxes, events play out in a bleak and sometimes quietly introspective manner.
During this decidedly downbeat section of the picture, there is only a handful of scenes to truly seize upon and savour. These include the welcome return of heroic house-elf Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones), and a superbly-filmed incursion by Harry and company inside the bunker-like Ministry of Magic.
Normally, there is no real point in mentioning the calibre of performance exhibited by the franchise's three young leads. Radcliffe, Grint and Watson have had to grow into their respective roles on their own terms, in their own time.
However, now that the curtain is closing on what will probably stand as the major work of their respective careers, it is interesting to note how far their skills have evolved since the innocuous days of The Philosopher's Stone.
Any real drawbacks for anyone still undecided about the Potter phenomenon? Only that Part 1's lengthy running time of almost 150 minutes is perhaps a half-hour too long for a film promising no direct resolution by the final credits.
However, with so many devotees wishing the series could go on forever, a delaying of the inevitable will disappoint very few indeed.

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