Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - Movie Review


Dave and I went to see HP 7 pt 1 at the midnight release - the first time I had done so for a Harry Potter film, and only the second ever (the first was for Star Wars: Episode Three - George Lucas needs more money). Fortunately, I can say that I liked The Deathly Hallows more than Revenge of the Sith.

Sadly, not by much.

Now, I know many of my issues with the movie - as they have been with all in this series - are due to the fact that I am a huge fan of the books. Very rarely do you get a movie adaptation that is comparable to the book - The Lord of the Rings films come to mind as some of the only in this category. I have been consistently disappointed with the Harry Potter films in large part because they are being targeted at children, and consequently are much shorter and lighter than they would be if they were more true to the books. Two and a half hours simply isn't enough to do justice to a 700 page book. That's 150 pages of script, which involves considerably less than 150 pages of prose.

A lot of characters and plot lines have been left out of the films that made sense, I will not argue with that. Peeves was missed, but never terribly necessary, other than for comic relief. Other things, however, ought to have been kept in: Hedwig's name is never mentioned in The Sorcerer's Stone, Harry's patronus is never explained in The Prisoner of Azkaban, and even Dubledore's death in The Half Blood Prince is almost entirely glossed over. This, and the failure to introduce characters in earlier movies, made for an extremely choppy and abrupt experience with The Deathly Hallows part 1.

The first 15 minutes of the film viewed like a bullet-point list of information: the Dursleys leave, Hermione wipes the memories of her parents, Tonks and Lupin are suddenly married, and oh yea, that's Mundungus Fletcher, who we should have seen two movies ago. It was as though the writer read the first 50 pages of the book, went "Damn, I need to establish this and this and this", and decided to do it all in one sentence. I was rather unimpressed with the writing.

Meanwhile, omissions are happening all over the place, some of which really detract from the characters. We get to build-up of Ron loosing his cool, he just suddenly snaps. We had a nice little scene with Harry and Ginny at the beginning of the film, and as soon as the trio leave the wedding, that's it. No mention of her. This makes Harry look quite the jerk, not giving a damn about his (ex)girlfriend, who also happens to be Ron's sister.

At the same time as all of these parts are being left out, we get to one of my biggest complaints of the movies: writers adding their owns scenes just for the hell of it. Hermione wiping her parents memories was a tear-jerking scene which could have been summed up in a sentence the way it was in the book. The Harry/Hermione dance scene was utterly pointless, and the time could have been used much better. The extremely bizarre storytelling sequence could have been shortened considerably, and I would have preferred live action rather than the shadow puppet animation.

(Side note, did anyone else think that Death looked suspiciously like General Grievous from Revenge of the Sith?)

The one part that was left in, which I felt could have been easily removed (I felt like this about the book as well) was the destruction of the locket. That was a long (rather risque) scene which, when compared to the destruction of the other horcruxes, is overkill. Again, I felt the time could have been put to better use elsewhere.

Overall, my feeling about the movie was that it was very choppy. There is so much to cover in the book - and this first part covered the first 2/3rds, rather than the first 1/2. There was no sense of the time that the trio have to spend planning everything - we just go from one scene to another with no time to breathe in between. Rather than the methodical, mature characters we get in the book, the Harry, Ron and Hermione of the movie plunge into things face first without thinking them through.

All in all, not a fan.

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