By Chris Campo
At last! We have arrived at the finale of the Harry Potter films... sort of. It's half of the finale, because, due to the length of the book (and an opportunity to make a hell of a lot more cash). Warner Bros. released this film as only part one of the final Harry Potter story, and I'm usually not that big of a fan of this. I think it's purely money-driven and usually just drags out films to a ridiculous extent. Apparently the Deathly Hallows book is so dense, fans were okay with seeing a two part adaptation. I didn't know how I felt about it going in, as I am. after all, a Harry Potter virgin and have not read the books, but with the countdown to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them rapidly winding down (JACK NOTE: Check Out My Review Tuesday Afternoon), I knew it was time to see if this was a good start to a two part finale.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 uncharacteristically distances itself from the typical Hogwarts setting and follows our three heroes, Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) on an unsupervised journey to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) immortality. Even when they need each other now more then ever, dark forces challenge their relationships and threaten to tear them apart. On this journey, Harry is not only faced with death, as he is being hunted by death eaters, but also discovers the three most powerful objects in the world, the Deathly Hallows.
I love this series, I really do, but part of me can't get over the fact that this film doesn't seem necessary. Well, yes, the film is necessary, but I don't see why this is its own film because boy, this film has a tendency to drag. Even though I have yet to see the final film, I would have preferred this film crunched down and edited in with Part 2. Sure, it would be pretty long, but don't kid yourself, Harry Potter fans would have no problem sitting through a 3-4 hour spectacle of a film, certainly if it was a finale. Lord of the rings pulled it off and they won Oscars for it. This doesn't kill the film for me though. There's a lot to like. Although, even if you ignore the fact that it is only a part one, it's still not the strongest Harry Potter film. Oh, and fuck that cliffhanger.
The film is very interesting. The story here is very intriguing and, for the most part, I was hooked. We've seen Lord Voldemort before, but never like this. Wow. Voldemort is show stopping. He's a very good, very creepy villain. I also enjoyed the main quest between our three heroes, but it does, as I said, drag. Interesting conflicts arise, such as Ron and Harry going at it, which has been done before, although here it's much better, but it's just missing something. I welcome the change of setting, very much, but I do feel a sense of wonder was lost with Hogwarts. However, the core characters keep this film on its feet, and not to sound like a broken record, but the characters in this film are such a delight. Here, we see a few new characters, which are all fun, and some returning characters, like Dobby (Toby Jones), who I was happy to see again.
The action, on the other hand, is hit or miss. For starters, there isn't a ton, but as the last film proved, that's not that big of a deal. The first big action scene, for me at least, left a lot to be desired. It's a big scene in the air, that is big and grand and feels ever so slightly out of place in the universe. It feels like a Michael Bay action scene (okay, maybe not that grand, but you get the point). There is a beautiful and gripping chase scene through the woods with magnificent, sweeping camerawork that was a highlight of the action in all these movies, for sure, and the final set piece is also rather fun and kept me quite engaged as well.
A big plus is tone, something these films have pretty much all nailed. Like always, there are very funny moments, most of the funnier bits are towards the first half, but they still all worked, including a fun little joke during the middle of a fight that totally reminded me of Stan Lee's cameo in The Amazing Spider-Man. There's great heart and emotion, another aspect that these films just nail. There's a great, warm moment between Harry and Hermione where they just dance and it put the biggest smile on my face. But there are also tougher scenes, very emotional shit goes down in this movie and it's all executed very well. A certain scene made me actually scream "NO!" out loud, surely waking up everyone in my house.
Overall, this film breaks the mold of what a typical Harry Potter film is, but the fact that this is only half the story takes away a bit of the magic. It's still fun, full with great characters and features plenty of memorable scenes, but it's not my favorite Harry Potter film. So, now I'm ready for the final Harry Potter film. It's been a fun ride watching all these films. I am quite sad that it's almost over, but I am also very excited. I have heard nothing but great things about the final film, so it should be a fun watch. I hope these reviews have been fun to read, and if they were, please join me in the very near future for my final Harry Potter review.