Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
Release Date: November 19th, 2010 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: David Yates Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy
ore than any of the previous films, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” feels like a fragment of a story, and resultantly just a fraction of a film. Instead of following the course of a year at Hogwarts, with a beginning, middle, and end, the renowned trio of two wizards and a witch continues an odyssey into the real world, jumping into the midst of a quest and arriving at a further point in the middle where the movie stops. Although the second and final part to the Harry Potter series arrives in less than a year, it’s still too long to wait for the story to feel whole and to conclude.
Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) power steadily grows, as does his army of Death Eaters. While they plot to finish off Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) once and for all, the remnants of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry must band together to transport the youth to safety. The dark lord has successfully overthrown both the once great school and the Ministry of Magic, lead by Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy), and now goes in search of the most powerful wand ever brandished, created by Death himself as purported in a legend about three magical hallows that is all too true. Aided by his best friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), Harry continues his mission to recover and destroy seven horcruxes, hidden receptacles for storing pieces of Voldemort’s soul in an effort to achieve immortality.
As with David Yates’ previous entry, times are getting darker for Harry Potter, along with the tone, music, lights, colors, expressions, events, and dialogue. Mortality is more startlingly realized and bloodletting isn’t as shied away from. This chapter also seems to strive for horror movie gimmicks, including screeching noises, high-pitched screams, sudden attacks, frightening dream sequences, and plenty of dark environments. Even more disturbing than the scarier elements that represent the evil forces at work are the frequent unexplained scenes that introduce new characters, locations, and powers. Many of these moments are set up for fans who clearly know what is transpiring – for anyone unfamiliar with the novels, these constant introductions of new ideas might be overwhelming, disjointed, and obscure.
The familiar character of Dobby makes a brief reappearance and sums up the general note of dissatisfaction with “Part 1” when he’s asked if he’s capable of performing a teleportation task: “Of course, sir – I’m an elf.” The fact that every predicament can be solved by randomly executing a contrived bit of magic or casting a previously undefined enchantment gives the plot the feeling that everything is made up as it progresses. Rather than having a clear path ahead, various subplots with their own pitfalls and fixes seem thrown in for the sake of padding the already expectedly lengthy running time. With no rules and no definitive boundaries for magic, anything can happen, and making sense within the realm of Harry Potter land and England/Scotland becomes less and less important. There’s still a smidgen of humor to top off the proceedings, but battles, spells, “Mission: Impossible” styled impersonations, the abundance of clues, riddles, and secrets, silly names, a stylized animation segment, and weird, hallucinogenic horcrux spirits only add up to an overwhelming run of believability hurdles – in an epic, seemingly endless quest that borrows generously from George Orwell (chiefly “1984” and “Animal Farm”), “Star Wars”/Akira Kurosawa, “The Lord of the Rings,” and well known ancient mythology.
– Mike Massie