A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

July 30, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

It’s difficult to review this as a stand-alone movie because it really isn’t one in any sense. I think I probably would have felt cheated if I had gone to see this in the theaters – it is not even really half of a movie – it’s all the plot exposition and boring bits from the Deathly Hallows book presented as a feature film, but with none of the resolution. I can understand the thinking that split this movie in two, but it leaves this segment as a sort of orphan child, split off from anything which would have made it a coherent whole. I feel somewhat bad reviewing it in this form because it feels so very incomplete.

Plot-wise there’s quite a lot that goes on in this half of the Deathly Hallows. It’s clear from the very start that dark things are afoot and that the death of Albus Dumbledore at the end of the previous movie has left nothing to stop the rise to power once again of Voldemort and all his dark followers. Hermione, to protect her muggle parents, wipes their memories and leaves them alone. Harry, meanwhile, is on the edge of his seventeenth birthday and is left alone in the home of the Dursleys. The charms that have protected him as a child living with family will soon end, so the Order of the Phoenix show up on his doorstep to whisk him away to a new hiding place. They are pursued by death eaters led by Voldemort who is obsessed with killing Harry, but he is able to escape – at the cost of his trusty owl Hedwig and with casualties in the Order as well.

In his first attempt on Harry’s life in this movie Voldemort takes Lucious Malfoy’s wand, figuring that because it does not share a core with Harry’s it will be a better weapon. It doesn’t work. Voldemort now believes that the reason he is unable to defeat Harry is that his wand has insufficient power. He sets out to find a wand of ultimate power, and dispatches his death eaters to wreak havoc at the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacort. It is this, the destruction at the wedding of a friend, that convinces Harry that he needs to set out on his own to destroy the remaining horcruxes in which Voldemort has hidden his soul. Of course Ron and Hermione insist on tagging along and it’s a good thing they do because Harry’s going to need his friends with him.

Hermione has brought along a bottomless bag in which she has every possible thing they could need on their adventures from polyjuice potion to a magical tardis-tent. Without her Harry would have been sunk pretty quickly. As it is he and the other two are able to infiltrate the ministry of magic, which is fully in the grip of Voldemort’s despotic reign now, and steal back the locket that is the horcrux Dumbledore and Harry went after at the end of the last book. It’s pretty thrilling stuff, and it also shows how dark the wizarding world has gotten.

From there, though, things get a bit monotonous. The big problem this movie has is that Harry, Ron and Hermione really don’t have any idea what they’re doing. They get this one horcrux but don’t know how to destroy it. The locket corrupts them, sending Ron off in a huff, which makes things pretty bleak for Harry and Hermione. Through a bit of intervention from a mysterious benefactor (who has a patronus that looks like a doe – as Harry’s mother did) leads Harry to Goderick Griffendor’s sword in a frozen pond. They destroy the locket, but it brings them no closer to knowing what the remaining horcruxes are nor how to find them. There is a lot of bleak trudging around the English countryside listening to a radio broadcast that is a litany of names of the dead or disappeared. There’s a lot of camping in the woods or by lakes. There’s a lot of infighting between the three friends who are all at the end of their ropes.

We learn some about the Elder Wand, an artifact of rare power that Voldemort is desperately seeking in the hopes that it will allow him to defeat Harry Potter. After consulting with Luna Lovegood’s father about the Deathly Hallows (with a nicely animated fairy tale narrated by Hermione) the three friends are finally captured by snatchers in the woods and brought to Bellatrix Lastrange at the Malfoy estate. There they find Luna Lovegood, Olivander the wand shop owner, and Griphook the goblin from Gringots. Bellatrix flies into a rage when she sees the sword of Griffendor is with them and becomes convinced that they’ve been inside her vault at Gringots – torturing Hermione to find out what else they got there. They only barely escape with the help of Dobby the Free Elf, who gives his life to save theirs.

And the movie abruptly ends. I suppose I can understand that the film makers didn’t want to lose any of this plot exposition, and they didn’t want to make a five hour movie, but the result is that almost nothing happens in this film. By the end of it things are not much different than they were at the start. Harry, Ron and Hermione have managed to destroy only one of the remaining five horcruxes, don’t know what or where the remaining four are, and have learned a little about the nature of the elder wand. I honestly think that you could go to see the eighth movie – the second half of Deathly Hallows, without seeing this one and you wouldn’t feel you had missed much. All of the big action, all of the plot resolution, and a good deal of the horcrux hunting takes place in the last movie. This movie is filler. It’s nice to have it there so that the climax doesn’t feel rushed or too stuffed with exposition, but it’s not really a film of its own. I’m glad I didn’t see it in the theater both because I would have felt kind of empty afterwards and because I would have had to wait nine months for the real meat of this story.


July 30, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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