Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

After 10 years the Harry Potter film series is drawing to a close. Fans of the series have been waiting eagerly for this moment to come, when the seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, would adapted to the screen. In an interesting move, Warner Bros. decided to release the film adaptation in two parts, Part 1 in 2010 and Part 2 in 2011, both parts directed by David Yates. Part 1 shows that this was actually a good idea, since it is the most accurate translation of a Harry Potter book I have yet seen.

The story takes place a year after the sixth installment, with the Dursleys vacating their home and leaving Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) behind. Later the Order of the Phoenix arrives to transport him to another location, using Polyjuice Potion (a potion that allows you to briefly become someone else) to make decoy Harrys so that the Ministry doesn't track him. They later arrive at the Burrow, where a wedding is planned to take place. Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy), the new Minister of Magic, appears there to read Dumbledore's will to Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson); they are each willed a supposedly useful item, though the last item, the Sword of Gryffindor, is ineligible for Harry to receive. The aforementioned wedding later occurs, only to be interrupted by a Death Eater attack. After the main trio escape, they make it their duty to find and destroy remaining Horcruxes in order to weaken Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

While this installment actually has one of the more straight-forward plots of the movie series, nearly everything in it impacts the Harry Potter universe in some way. That said, I won't give anything major away for those who haven't seen Part 1 of the final story yet, since it's still fairly new. However, I can say this: Even though far more happens here than in the last movie, a lot of the events felt a little like padding, even if they were taken from the book. Otherwise, it had decent pacing.

The events of the story are carried expertly by superb acting that really shows how experienced each and every main actor has gotten over the years. You really get a sense of what each of the three main characters is going through, especially their personal emotional conflicts. The magic of the movie is not lost under any of this, as the special effects appear to be at their best in this movie, and I expect plenty more in the sequel. I especially praise one scene that tells a story from an in-universe book, wherein some of the best animation I have ever seen in a movie is used very dynamically.

There is, however, one thing I wish to bring up with a Spoiler tag: *Spoiler Alert* There appears to be a sort of subtext in the movie with Nazi Germany. Specifically, the Ministry of Magic is against Mudbloods, the wizarding slur for Muggle-borns, to the point where a pillar in the Ministry depicts them in their "proper place," being crushed underneath it. I couldn't help but compare this to the ideology of WWII Germany and I felt sorry for Hermione when she was labeled (quite literally) as a Mublood. *End Spoiler Alert*

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is an excellent lead-in to Harry's final battle and is a definite must-see for anyone wishing to see Part 2. I would recommend definitely seeing all the other movies beforehand in order to further build up the story and have a better sense of continuity. Here's hoping the Harry Potter franchise gets the send-off it really deserves.

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