Yeah, Spoilers... there should be some kind of Hogwarts-style "Defense against the Dark Arts" spell against them. And maybe there is... I'll ask J.K. Rowling... assuming she'd condescend to meet a muggle (and whacked-out writer) like me.
Yeah... "Part 1". Warner Bros. decided to release the film adaptation of the longest book in the series in two parts. Sure this is nothing less than a brilliant move from a monetary standpoint, but look sharp, witches and wizards alike, imagine what they'd have to cut out if they'd made one epic-in-name-only adaptation stuffed into under three excessively accelerated hours. Well, it's true that even split into two parts, like any novel adaptation, The Deathly Hallows is missing a lot of the book. Many things have had to be combined, skipped over and altered for the big screen showing. Any old complaint you might have about any book-cum-movie could be argued here. That said... what do you expect? That said... it's still a pretty gosh darned good movie!
When we last saw our buddy "The Boy who Lived" (Daniel Radcliffe, of course) he had witnessed his mentor Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) join the ancient and honorable ranks of the decidedly "KILLED OFF" at the hands of "The Half-Blood Prince" Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), a man Harry THOUGHT he could TRUST. Sick Move, man! Of course, this particular sick move was only the next skirmish (or perhaps the first real salvo) of the final battle between the evil Death Eaters and the heroic Order of the Phoenix... with not just Harry hanging in the balance, but also the ENTIRE WIZARDING WORLD... and beyond!
Sorry, was that last paragraph over the top? Oh... the whole review has been? Okay, moving on...
Don't worry, folks... things may look dark and bleak now... but they're about to get A WHOLE LOT Darker and Bleaker, man! Yeah! Just check out that creepy Death Eater board meeting that kicks things off... Speaking of which...
Luckily Harry Potter also has an entire bastion of good guys looking out for him. I mean, anything less would be two-point-five hours of a bunch of low men in black cloaks beating up on the bespectacled chap, stealing his lunch money and kicking him into puddles and that would be in really bad taste. Not in taste as bad as, say, a Musical Revue featuring Anne Boleyn and John the Baptist performing "I Ain't Got No... body" as a duet, but it would be bad taste nonetheless!
I can't even believe I typed that... I wish my backspace key wasn't broken.
But anyway, he's got a veritable metric ton of proverbial good-old-boys (and chicks) looking out for him and, lucky for him, they're willing to risk life, limb and ear for his safety. If more of this took place in the Hogwarts Cafeteria, I'm pretty sure there'd even be a food fight. Corn Bread and Tater Tots EVERYWHERE! I'll spare you another improbably lengthy list like the one above, but let's just say that all the really important heavy-hitters from Justice League Phoenix are here, like Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) Mad-Eye (Brendan Gleeson), Fred and George (James and Oliver), Remus (David Thewlis), Tonks (Natalia Tena), Luna (Evanna Lynch), Sweet Ginny (Bonnie Wright) and... Look, if you're a fan of the characters or the actors, you already know who they are... if not, another list would bore the four of you who have read down this far off of the article anyway.
Because, the thing is, this great adventure is, as it should be, the story of the great Magical Triad of Harry and his Best Buddies Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson)! And let me tell you... this adventure is great! Their interaction as an adult trio years after we first met them shows how very well cast they were as children way back in that strange, forgotten era between "Yore" and "Yesteryear".
The kids are MORE than all right, even (and especially) when they are forced to break out on their own and live like magical hermits in their search for the Horcruxes, those pesky pieces of Voldemort's shattered soul that must be destroyed if he ever is to be! The mystery of the Horcruxes and where they might be are mixed is deeply intertwined with the history of Voldemort himself, along with that of Harry... and even of Dumbledore! That's not to mention three mysterious, magical objects that may well be the key to the whole wand shootin' match. They're called "The Deathly Hallows" and the frightful tale of their creation and evolution more than proves that they live up to their name. As the trail becomes darker and more fascinating, the Wizarding World becomes much more frightening in a much more realistic way as the Evil Forces of the Death Eaters take over more and more of all possible worlds like Gestappo with Magic Wands!
And that's the beauty of this film. It's a true fantasy in the classic style of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, but with an edgy danger from our real world. Wizards throwing Spells from Wands often come off like Gunfighters in a Shoot-out. Harry, Hermione and Ron have a tiny bag that contains an impossibly large inventory, but they also have to contend with cold, hunger and poverty on their way. Deadly trials must be passed, but simple jealousy and heartache block their paths just as much or more. Dark Artists surround them, but they are just as susceptible to cuts, breaks and physical torture as they are to evil magics and magic evils!
For this reason the audience identifies all the more with the horror and terror these fantastical characters face and feel the wonder of the mysterious side of things while feeling suspense for the realistic trials woven into this tapestry. Steve Kloves' script mines the best of the first half of Rowling's book while director Yates translates this best into an exciting and fantastical fantasy film that works in its own right along with some of the great science fiction epics out there.
But the keywords here are "the best of..." The Harry Potter movie series is very good and has been a great success, but the series is at its very best in book form. The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 works wonderfully as a companion piece to the novel's first half, but is far from a replacement for it. Reading the books is a great experience and, like all of the films based on these books, the motion picture seems to prove that reading the books is almost necessary. Often readers are able to fill in the blanks that the movie has by remembering the tale from the tome, but those who came in without reading the book might have a few Riddler-like question marks floating in tweety circles above their heads.
Still, this first part half of the seventh film is as close to a must-see as-is as we can get, from the magnificent special effects, to the truly engaging and engrossing acting to the score by Alexandre Desplat (that still utilizes some of the themes by the great John Williams)! Appearances by favorites like Warwick Davis, Miranda Richardson, Imelda Staunton, Katie Leung, Jesse Cave, Matthew Lewis, Simon McBurney (as Kreacher), Toby Jones (as Dobby), John Hurt and even Bill Nighy don't hurt either! What's more, the Ben Hibon directed animated sequence depicting "Story of the Three Brothers" has to be seen to be believed!
Yes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 can be overloaded and top-heavy at times, but this is a testament to how very much they tried to put into this film to keep it pure. Yes, this can occasionally get in the way and yes, quite often many will wonder why things were changed in THESE specific ways. But take note of how well they did handle all of this story and how much of the cool book actually survived into the film! And this is only the first half! A first half worth Four Stars out of Five! Harry Potter fans will find a lot to like, even as they find a lot to question. Luckily when the film really goes and really clicks, it really does bring the audience in enough to lose themselves in the adventure and simply love the fantasy. So until somebody remakes all of these films and stuffs me in (in my advanced years) as the new (albeit temporary) Defense against the Dark Arts Teacher just before my head is eaten by a really mean looking snake... I'll see your wizardly, witchy faces in the next reel... Bodies or NOT!
Nearly Headless Kneumsi
Advises you to Click HERE for more reviews...
Before I join Anne and John (and Nick) for that Musical Review!
Hermione is Beautiful... and I don't mean that in a Lecherous way... she's just a cute kid! Pure and good!
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