Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
There isn’t a lot to be said about the longevity and popularity of the Harry Potter franchise that hasn’t already been touched upon, but in retrospect, it’s hard not to give credit where credit’s due in acknowledging just how remarkable both the books and films are and always will be. In the way that several more recent films have rendered themselves important in a more societal, reality-driven sense, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows essentially marks the end of an era for all those who’ve had the privilege of following the boy wizard through all his trials and tribulations for over a decade. From his very first Quidditch match to the tragic death of a beloved mentor, we as avid fans of the boy wizard have endured as many lighthearted occasions as we have emotional hardships, and thanks to an exceptional line of film adaptations, we’ve been given the opportunity to witness our favorite moments from J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels play themselves out before our very eyes.
This time around however, the powers that be felt it necessary to divide the seventh and final book into two separate films, thus causing both fans and critics alike to question their motives in making such a bold and peculiar move. Whether it be a ploy to rack up the dough once again come July or not, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 can easily be considered one of the best entries in the series, if not the series’ best thanks to David Yates’ ability to rekindle everything memorable from more recent installments while bringing even more to the table. For instance, anyone who’s at least somewhat familiar with Rowling’s immensely popular literary phenomenon knows that the finale is exceptionally dark, brooding and the first to take place outside the confines of the infamous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In capturing this overall essence of the novel and mimicking its emotionally riveting substructure, Yates couldn’t be more on the ball, even though a lot of what most people became fond of over the years isn’t as apparent as it once was.
Thanks to the increased air of suspense and overwhelming pertinence Harry and the gang’s ongoing mission carries with it, the film can more accurately be described as a full-blown fantasy thriller that once again shines brightly as a wildly entertaining stand-alone piece of cinema. The action is simply top notch, and coupled with an easily distinguishable and breathtaking visual flair, remains one of this entry’s strongest attributes in conjunction with its increasingly bleak, yet appropriately (and appealingly) tense and moody atmosphere. Even the novel’s more graphic moments have been translated flawlessly to the big screen, thus giving me increasingly high hopes for the much-anticipated second installment and what it has in store in terms of bringing us more of the same.
Although a very strict adherence to the seemingly infinite amount of details coinciding with Harry’s dangerous sojourn is what’s supposed to help craft this final effort into the ultimate Potter experience, subplots aplenty are what essentially prevent the film from being everything it could have been. To be frank, a lot of these details are warranted in their inclusion, providing us with every in and out of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s penchant for grappling with their personal demons while trying to stay focused on the extraordinary task at hand. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to pick out the proverbial fat that definitely could and should have been trimmed off in an attempt to transform an already terrific film into a slightly more cohesive and well-rounded effort: one that doesn’t feel like the so-called “bridge” many have branded it as.
Given an increased focus on the emotional complexities of each and every character, especially when taking into consideration the fact that three 17-year-olds are responsible for the fate of the entire wizarding world, Radcliffe and friends have faced their fair share of relevant obstacles. Like the characters themselves, all three of our young leads have matured so much over the years that such hardships are handled as skillfully as humanly possible, further humanizing each one of the protagonists to the point where it’s quite literally impossible not to sympathize with their individual plights. In fact, the performances offered up by each and every member of the cast transforms the film’s ever-present emotional underbelly into something far more engrossing than it ever was in previous entries, and if anything, makes the entire production all the more enjoyable in precisely the right manner.
To put it plainly, I’ve always loved Harry Potter, therefore I love Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Showcasing an appreciable, moody and immeasurably entertaining overall atmosphere to complement its awesome visuals and thrills abound, David Yates’ first half of the beloved franchise’s finale is nothing short of a masterpiece. Hyperbole aside, it’s sometimes easy to pinpoint just where the film went wrong in incorporating one too many extraneous details, yet in spite of their supposed irrelevance, these moments still manage to bring something of value to the table regardless of the pacing issues that sporadically come into play. Throw in noticeably terrific performances from all involved, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson notably, and you have everything characteristic of the six beloved predecessors and then some. On a more insightful note, it’ll be a sad day when the anticipation of a new Potter film no longer excites countless fans across the globe, but if one thing can be gathered from the existence of the entire franchise, it’s without a doubt the fact that it’s easily one of the most outstanding achievements to grace pop culture from both a literary and cinematic perspective.