Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

by Tom Ingram

JK Rowling’s goal with Harry Potter was to write a series that would grow up with its readers, and she succeeded. The series defines my whole generation. For everyone of a certain age, the Harry Potter books are more than just books. They are our childhood.

The seventh Harry Potter movie has the honour and burden of wrapping up this epic, years-long story that means so much to so many people. It’s a job that the book did well, despite whining from some corners of the Internet. The movie, too, has its fair share of tearful goodbye moments that, when you think about what the story represents beyond the screen, are deeply moving.

At the beginning, there’s a brief, quiet moment when Harry is all alone in an empty house. He packs his things, comes down the stairs, and stops in front of the cupboard underneath. He opens it up, turns on the light, and looks inside. This used to be his bedroom, years ago.

The living room quickly fills up with just about every person Harry knows outside of Hogwarts. Their plan is to make several decoy Harrys in order to throw the Death Eaters off their tracks. A chase scene ensues, which brings me to the most negative thing I have to say about this movie: it’s a 2010 movie. It suffers from some of the more unpleasant filmmaking trends of the last few years. The action scenes are made with shaky footage and a cut every couple of seconds, making them almost as incomprehensible as the bit with the scorpions from Clash of the Titans.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron end up in the English countryside, where they spend most of the movie. They don’t visit Hogwarts once until the end of the book, and the filmmakers made the bizarre decision to break the story up into two movies. I don’t see the logic behind this. The middle of the movie is fairly slow, and I’m sure they could have found some way to chop it down and make the entire book one movie. It’s not even the longest instalment in the series.

The bulk of the movie consists of standard Harry-Hermione-Ron character action, which doesn’t work as well outside of the Hogwarts setting. The other incidental characters make only token appearances. The movie does a good job of getting all the set pieces in place for the finale, but it never goes beyond that and the ending just fizzles out. Taken as a whole, the two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies will probably be the best in the series. But this movie can’t stand very well on its own.

It’s a well-put together and well-acted film with a couple good character moments. Fans of the series will enjoy it, but the story just isn’t strong enough. If you’re new to Harry Potter, my recommendation is to wait for the next one where things will actually happen.

Trailers: Not a very good haul this time. Let’s see:

Kung-Fu Panda 2: Why?

Yogi Bear: Dear God, why? Although, I have to admit the casting choice of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake for Yogi Bear is delightfully surreal.

Red Riding Hood: Did anybody really want a gritty reboot of the story of Little Red Riding Hood involving werewolves?

The Green Lantern: Nothing special. The Green Lantern was never that interesting as a superhero, as far as I’m concerned. Ryan Reynolds looks like his usual irritating self, and his suit is ridiculous.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Not my kind of movie, really. I never got into the Narnia books. My favourite character from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was Edmund, because I sympathized with his middle-child issues. I would have taken the Turkish delight and run with it.

Anyway, it looks like we’ve got a rather sad Christmas movie season ahead of us, which is too bad. Last year’s was excellent, as I recall.