MOVIE REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

Writing a review for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is about as effective as writing a review for the next Twilight movie. People are going to go see it anyway so why bother?  The most successful film franchise of all time, the first six films alone have grossed more than $5.4 billion. The books themselves have had a massive cultural impact, selling more copies of the novels than there are citizens in the United States.  People are going to go see this movie. That’s a given. So why write a review?

It is hard to believe that it’s been almost ten years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first hit theaters. I was a Potter geek from the time I saw the first movie, and gobbled up every book within days, even hours, of reading the first page.  I love the books and the movies for different reasons. They are a significant part of my childhood. After the second part of the finale comes out, I won’t know what to do with myself. My childhood will be officially over – that is until Lucas rereleases all six Star Wars movies in 3D; once that happens, it will be dead.

The first part of the last installment never takes us to Hogwarts. The closest we get is the Hogwarts Express, but even that is stopped by Death Eaters looking for Harry Potter. But Harry isn’t aboard the train that departs from platform 9 and ¾, and neither are his friends Ron or Hermione. Instead, they are off looking for the five remaining Horcruxes. Destroying these seemingly random items will result in the destruction of Voldemort. There’s only one problem: they don’t know where the Horcruxes are, they don’t know how to destroy them, and they have no discernable method for finding them.

This brings me to what I think the first half of Deathly Hallows should be called: Harry Potter and the Walk through the Woods. Seriously. The whole movie is Harry, Ron, and Hermione walking around in the middle of nowhere. They find a place where they can find a clue, then the Death Eaters burst in and they aparate back into the middle of nowhere. Repeat for two and a half hours.

It’s also one of the best entries in the series to date.

Like the first half of the book that it is adapting, Deathly Hallows is the most character-driven segment of the series. We have spent the past ten years watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione grow up. Now we get to see them interact on their own. We appreciate more than ever the resourcefulness of Hermione, the persistence of Harry, and the devotion of Ron. We love these characters. They’re real to us.

But there’s still plenty of room for adventure.

Keeping a perfect balance between action and character development, Deathly Hallows features some of the greatest action sequences in the entire series. There’s a wonderfully crafted wizard battle in the forest, as well as a suspenseful and humorous infiltration of the Ministry of Magic. There are moments that will make you jump out of your seat, and other moments that will bring a tear or two to your eye.

On a technical level, the film is generally commendable. This is the most CGI-laden installment in recent memory. Many times, the CGI is convincing, though we can still notice its presence. This isn’t Avatar, after all. Other times it is downright embarrassing – Dumbledore’s tomb looks like something out of a low budget Game Cube game. The cinematography and music, on the other hand, are some of the best the franchise has seen.

As a devoted Potter fan, I loved this entry. Not only was it loyal to the book, but it stands on its own as great entertainment. Go see the movie. You’re going to anyway if you’re reading this. And if you’re still uncertain I have two words for you: Trust Snape.