I’ve heard a lot of people say that reviewing the newest Harry Potter movie is a pointless exercise. By now, people have made up their minds regarding the film series. If they are on-board, then they’ll see it regardless, and if they don’t like it, they aren’t going to make an exception for the newest one. That’s fair enough, but it’s not a sentiment I necessarily agree with.
I don’t think that has to be correct, because Deathly Hallows Part 1 has convinced me it is not. I think it actually could turn people off the series. That’s not to say that it is a terrible film, but all of the charm that the previous films had seem to have been lost with this one. There is also the worrying thought that since Part 1 and Part 2 were shot back-to-back, the second film will have the same flaws.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the first of two films based on JK. Rowling’s seventh Harry Potter book. It, once again, stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger. That’s about all the actors who “star” in the film, as none of the secondary actors are given much chance to enhance or establish their characters.
This ends up being the first problem with the film. None of the secondary cast members get their fair share of screen time. Take, for example, Alan Rickman as Severous Snape. He’s a character that was incredibly interesting in the first few films, and pivotal in the last one. Here, he gets maybe two scenes over the course of the film, none of which are that important. This is true for all of the other secondary characters as well. They show up, disappear for a while, and then reappear for another scene. That’s all we get from them, and it doesn’t allow any time to get any insight into their character that we hadn’t already been shown.
While you are expected to have watched the previous six films in order to get a feel for the characters, it almost feels like you could have skipped them and still have gotten a good idea of what is happening. Not being in that situation myself, I cannot be sure, but the film did seem to be a bit too direct in an attempt to fill the audience in on what happened previously. Certain plot points continue to be hammered home, multiple times, and it makes you feel like the film doesn’t think you are smart enough to remember them.
Without involving the secondary characters, the film turns out to consist mostly of Harry, Ron and Hermione, one of which ends up being absent for a large chunk of time, searching around various locations for the remaining Horcruxes. Since Hogwarts has now been taken over, they can’t go back there, so they instead decide to ditch their final year of classes and go on an adventure. The Hogwarts setting is actually what made a lot of the previous movies interesting for me, meaning this change was not a good one in my mind. Yes, I am well aware that this also happens in the book, and can’t be omitted, but making it happen for almost all of the entire two and a half hours the film plays for is not welcome.
This also means that the film does get kind of boring. The secondary characters made the previous films more interesting, but since most of them are absent from this one, we can only focus on our three leads. These are characters who, after this film, I have grown to dislike. I didn’t before, because there would always be side-sessions with other characters dispersed between long sequences with the primary cast. Here, we don’t get that, and I began to grow tired of Harry, Ron and Hermione.
The worst part about it is the fact that the film does attempt to have some emotional moments. Sadly, they almost all fall flat on their face. There is one scene, right near the end that was sad, but the rest of the time, I was sitting there questioning why they even bothered to try to stir emotions. There were also attempts at humor throughout, none of which worked in lightening the mood, and only served to remind me that when the film tries to change the mood, it fails.
The best part about the film was the visual effects. From transforming characters into multiple Harry Potters, to the house elves, to the spells used, you can tell that a lot of effort was put into the visuals. The film looks nice all around, and it does take you to various locations. At least you’ll have some nice scenery to look at.
I’m still not sure whether or not I can dissuade Harry Potter fans from going to see Deathly Hallows Part 1, but I hope that they will take this review as a caution. This is perhaps the weakest film of the series, and it fails to bring any depth to any character that isn’t named Harry, Ron, or Hermione. The scenery and visuals are great, but the secondary characters are pushed aside for ones that end up getting on your nerves. I do fear, however, for Part 2, as they were shot back-to-back. Hopefully they will rectify them in the editing process, or even go back and re-shoot some scenes before release. Either way, I was let down by Part 1.