Another Christmas. Another Harry Potter. The sad thing is this will be the last festive season we’ll have the chance to see a new Potter film in our local cineplex.
It’s been quite an adventure, and credit must surely go to Chris Columbus and his team for the casting of its three leads who have since become inseparable from the parts they play.
The final chapter begins with the return of Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Much like when Harry was born seventeen years previously. As they take over the Ministry of Magic, it’s up to Harry, Ron and Hermione to find the seven ‘horcruxes’ that hold the key to defeating Voldemort once and for all.
The film has quite an unusual pacing to it. It’s almost the reverse of a normal blockbuster of this type. It starts out with a quite a few long, epic sequences which see the gang fleeing a family wedding and then breaking into the Ministry. We then move to a much more subdued search for the horcruxes which exposes the relationships between our three heroes. Finally, we have quite a short sequence at the end, intended to set up the final film in the series.
None of this is bad, in and of itself. Rather the decision to split the film in two sits uncomfortably with the viewer, and they are left waiting six months to see the conclusion to a story with more loose ends than a frayed woollen scarf.
Aside from this, everything else is handled in a a very confident manner. The actors, director, and landscapes all working together to enrich this world that’s been around for six films now.
Added touches like Harry and Hermione’s awkward adolescent dance and names of the disappeared being read out on the radio stand out amongst the spectacle of action scenes readers of the books have already experienced.
To me, it’s a pity the director, David Yates hasn’t put more of a stamp of the last three films. In the main they are filmed exactly as you had hoped each scene would be filmed. However, in failing to add more creativity to elements of his films, it allows them to lose some of the magic that Alfonso Curone’s Prisoner of Azkaban had in spades.
That film stands out as one where the director had a vision for the film beyond that of Rowling’s. Watching it again makes me think of what directors like del Toro or Gilliam might have made of the Potter sandbox.
In fact, the most creative element of the film is the only part not directed by Weisz. A beautifully dark and enchanting animated scene which explains the origins of the infamous ‘Deathly Hallows’.
The Deathly Hallows: Part One is a hugely enjoyable film that felt a lot shorter than its 150 minute runtime. In terms of pacing, character and plot it handled its source material really well. However, I would have liked a few more creative touches from Yates and his team to make the penultimate film a bit more special.
This review is in place of one I recorded for the podcast which never was. As part of that, I had pre-recorded a plot synopsis of Harry Potter 1 to 6 for Steve and Dave, who had only seen one of the previous films each. You can listen to me attempt to sum up all six films in ninety seconds below: