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Monday, November 29, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1

As one might guess from the previous post I am a fan of the Harry Potter book series. So one might think that I'm an equally big fan of the movie series based on said book series. Long answer is that I think that the first two movies were good but not great. The third and fourth movies sucked. They sucked hard. At that point I had all but given up on the movies pleasing my, probably too high, expectations. Then along came David Yates to direct the last four installments in the franchise.

The way I saw the fifth and sixth movies were much less of a spectacle compared to the previous four that I had seen with large groups of friends. I saw them alone some time after they had opened up at the cinema and found that, to my surprise, not only were they really good movies they were good adaptations of the novels as well.

Which, after a long story, brings us to the subject of this review. Yates' third movie in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The thing, I think, that makes Yates' HP-movies work better than the previous installments is that he has a much better sense of what to leave in, remove and add when it comes to adapting from novel to the big screen. The best example of an addition made was a quick scene on the Hogwarts express that wasn't in the book. It only lasted a minute or two but it perfectly set up one of the most awesome developments from the book that the movie audience might raise an eyebrow about otherwise.

As for the rest of the movie. It's good. Really good actually, borderlining on great. This is the one book in the series that I've only read once so most of the details escape my memory. But Yates has captured all of the big moments that I do remember and uses them to portray the desperate situation that Harry, Ron and Herminoe faces along with the way they handle it really well.

Speaking of our three mains I have to say they've all three really grown on me in their parts. Actually I've always found Rupert Grint and Emma Watson to be great as Ron and Herminone. It's Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter that I've long had some problems with. He just didn't really work for me and I found him to be stale, hammy or just boring. Around the sixth movie though he turned it around for me and by this point I happy with him as Harry Potter. None of them are perfectly casted, only Alan Rickman is perfect in his role, but they're more than good enough.

Now those three are the main characters, obviously, and as the story and plot mainly follows their long and desperate quset to find the horcruxes so that they can kill Voldemort there isn't much time for other actors to get their screen time except for the beginning and the end. But even with that little time at their disposal there're a few characters that I feel need some extra mention.

Mainly I would like to throw some praise to Jasons Issacs who plays Lucius Malfoy, Draco's father for those that don't know. In the past he's long been one of Voldemort's more loyal followers and a real big bad. This time however he is clearly in over his head and it is with great some facial display that Issacs portrays a man that's just trying to keep things from falling a part while keeping a smile up for the evil dark lord person who likes to use Lucius' home as a meeting place. It's great fun to see.

Then Helena Bonham Carter who is just having loads of fun as the insane Bellatrix Lestrange. She's funny, scary (tortures Herminone) and just a big hoot to watch. I'd even say that she steals the whole last act of the movie if it weren't for the tragic shit that goes down with Dobby.

Overall, the acting is strong in this film and I can't really think of a single person I thought did their job poorly.

But the thing that really REALLY makes this movie good is the mood. It is deliciously dark. So dark that I'm not quite sure how it can be considered a kids movie. Just watch the first scene with Voldemort and his death eaters and you'll see what I mean. Not to mention the meeting with Bathilda Bagshot, which creeped me out already in the book. There's also quite a lot of trippy moments that highlight the despair of the main characters' situation. I think that I like it so much because the book had the same feeling which means that the movie has captured it really well, something that some of the other movies had difficulties accomplishing.

And on top of all this greatness there the tale of the three brothers. It's a sort fairy tale from the wizard world that plays a pivotal role in the story. The movie presents it in animated for with Herminone narrating it. It looks strikingly beautiful even when using only a few dark and dreary colours. It's eye-catching and glues itself to your memory just because it looks so differently from the rest of the movie.

So yeah, a really good movie as well as a great adaptation. Now I can't wait to see the next one aka the grand finale. But before that I've got 5,2 books left read.

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