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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One

When I read the final instalment of the Harry Potter "saga" I got through it in three days. I literally couldn't put it down. Just like the book before, I devoured it and wanted to re-read almost immediately. As it stands, I've read each book six times each.

If there's one bad thing to say about Part One of the adaptation by Warner Bros. then it would be that the movie also takes about a day and a half to reach the "half way point" in preparation for what promises to be an epic Part Two. I wanted to get that out of the way at the start of this review - if you can call it that - because, apart from a few niggles that I only suffered because I'm a nerd, know the books inside out and the movie doesn't always stay true to it exactly, it's the only bad thing I have to say about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And I still wanted to go straight back in to see it again!

Beginning (what would be) Harry's final year at Hogwarts with almost no recap of the story preceding it, The Deathly Hallows dives straight into the moody, blue-grey adventure; the search for the remaining Horcruxes. Remember them? You'd be forgiven for forgetting - but it almost doesn't matter, because they aren't that important, are they?

I'm assuming that if you're reading this then you've read the books too, but if not I'll try not to give too much away. But wow. Gone are the silly, slapstick moments that some of the previous films suffered from (and I mean suffered) and instead we get a dark, dangerous and almost adult tale. The three leads have upped their game in terms of acting skill. It seems that the kids we first watched all those years ago really have grown up. Most notable is the almost omnipresent stubble spattered all over the fellas' faces. Emma, too, looks a more worthy adversary; gone is the frizz and flutter of previous years, swapped instead for a quiet sophistication and the feeling that she knows exactly what's going on. 

(I wish I could tell you more about the plot to put the following into context, so it doesn't seem like I'm being a pervert - but I won't, so "seem" away...)

The whole feel of the series has "grown up". There are more "real" kissing scenes, one of which - between two of the leads (no, not Ron and Harry) is a naked one... And they are perfect. Sexy, mature and needed. The swear-words that are still shoe-horned into the script don't feel so "shoe-horned-in" any longer, probably due to the cast in the scene being more mature themselves, and the dialogue in Camp Voldemort is less "panto" than in previous movies. You'd be forgiven for thinking you're watching a grisly horror movie during the much-anticipated "Nagini, Dinner!" scene at the Malfoy's mansion. Rickman, Bonham-Carter and Fiennes are all terrifying and unsettling in their roles as the most mentionable of enemies.

The supporting cast of characters on Team Potter are also on fine form. The Phelps boys, particularly, are the comedy glue - along with Dobby - which stops the whole thing falling apart under the weight of hopelessness woven throughout the story. Watch out for the "toothbrush in the ear" scene; that made me rock with laughter!

But there is something definitely "Part One-ish" about this one; something I don't suppose I can complain about! It's a series of exciting action set-pieces interlaced with meaningful and smile-inducing moments of sheer beauty (Harry and Hermione dancing in the tent is just gorgeous; probably the best scene in the film for making you both love and fear for the characters' welfare) which leads to "the important middle bit" of the book. Okay, they've done a great job at making a cliffhanger out of something that never was one, to be fair. Although, having read the book and understood the reasons behind Ol' Voldy's actions in more detail, I felt that without having done so the movie would leave me slightly lost. The incredible "story within a story" - The Tale Of The Three Brothers - explains a lot; the basics, at least, and does so well, but I would imagine that any 10 year old in the audience would have NO idea what the task was any more.

All in all, just like the other movies in the series, this is a great, great movie if you've only ever followed the films. If you've read the books and loved them, as I have and still do, you will spend most of your time trying to figure out why they changed that bit or this bit and wondering where Mundungus's hair has gone.

But if you enter into this one knowing more or less what's coming and you look forward to those best bits then you will have a blast! I believe this is the most impressive of all Harry Potter movies to date, but have huge hopes for the final instalment. The best bits? Okay... A bit spoilery here, but the two non-human deaths of note are both heartbreaking and come and go in such a scurry of activity and emotion that by the time you're crying about them - and you will, if you have a heart - they're done with. There's no time to dwell on losses here, this one's all about getting to the fight. Also, eyes open for a cameo from "Dave Coaches" from Gavin and Stacey in one of the funniest little bits the movie has to offer.

Hmmm? A mark out of ten? Okay - eight and a half

There are lots of laughs here, as well as lots of opportunities to shed a tear. I just wish they'd spent more time explaining... Since the book has already been split in two, it was obviously a time thing. As long as you know what's happening before you go in, you'll love this. I did. Now, when shall we go again?