Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (2010)
Director: David Yates
Plot: As Harry races against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes, he uncovers the existence of three most powerful objects in the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.
Rating: PG for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality.
The decision to split into two parts the last installment of the most popular screen adaptation of a book series since J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is a double-edged sword. It allows director David Yates to set up what would be an exciting and anticipatory finale, an epic conclusion to the well-loved story of a boy wizard which began ten years ago. However, this very setup means that Part I naturally suffers from the consequence of its own doing, that is, it promises so much, but delivers so little. We have to wait for six months for the emotional payoff that is inevitable.
While it might not be fair to judge a film by watching only half of it, I would turn the tables on Warner Brothers and say that it is also not fair to charge viewers twice for what is essentially one (long) film. Happy paying fans are another matter altogether. Speaking of which, fans should approach The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 with a measure of caution. Gone are the days of fairy-tale like magic and adventure. Now, these are dark times; a war is brewing, people are terrorized, and every evil being is out to kill Harry Potter.
The Deathly Hallows can be classified as fantasy-horror (purist fans would baulk at this). There are a number of intense imageries that are frightening and unnerving, most of which involving a huge snake. Moreover, the frequent use of desaturated flashbacks of which the villain Voldermort has a significant presence in, are at times unsettling. Surprisingly, for a film that is more about set-up than not, there is a fair amount of action, if you understand action as protagonists being chased through the woods or engaging in not fistfights but wand duels.
In the context of fantasy, the visual effects are excellent, be it the black streaks across the pale blue sky symbolizing the paintbrush strokes of evil, or the glowing goat that appears to Harry in the dark woods. If there is something consistent throughout all Harry Potter films, apart from the acting of the lead trio, it is the strong sense of location. In Deathly Hallows, spectacular day shots of the vast openness are contrasted with the silent dread that accompanies night scenes in the eerie woods.
The Deathly Hallows is as much about the fight against evil as it is about the sexual maturity of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Past the pubescent stage, the three friends now face awkward moments with one another. Ron likes Hermione, but it is not a secret that Harry also has an affection for Hermione. It would be interesting to see how Yates handles this aspect of their characters in the final film. And more importantly, what it may mean for a whole generation of post-pubescent fans learning about love.GRADE: B- (7/10 or 3 stars)
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