Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
[Ed. note: We had two of our critics review HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1: Chris, who by his own admission is not "overly familiar" with the books and Jenna, who by her own admission is a HARRY POTTER "fangirl." Does the film appeal to fans and non-fans alike? Read Chris Bumbray's review here and continue on to see what Jenna Busch though...
PLOT: Young wizards Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have left Hogwarts. Hunted by the dark forces of Voldemort and his Death Eaters, they begin their hunt for the missing Horcruxes which contain Voldemort's soul.
REVIEW: After the screening of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 in London, I came out gushing. I was laughingly called a fangirl by some and not-so-laughingly by others. In fact, I was teased about giving the film a good review because of my fangirl status. Now, I've been a fangirl in a lot of areas. And if you've been reading my reviews on JoBlo for any length of time, you're aware that my fandom certainly does not guarantee a good review. In fact, I'm far more critical of things I love. So when I say that HP7 is amazing, please understand that if it violated my love for the book, I'd be ripping it to shreds with my bare hands.
First off, let's talk about how closely the film follows the book. I was reading it for the zillionth time while in London. I was half way through when I saw the film. Except for two scenes, it's pretty darn close. And one of those is a scene between Harry and Hermione that should have been in the book. I won't spoil it for you other than to say that, two people alone in a tent for a long period of time...well, the thought would cross your mind too. The second scene is the final moment of the film.
The break in the film has been the topic of endless speculation, and director David Yates has chosen a perfect place. It ends...and damn it is difficult to review a film when half the world knows the plot and the other half would shoot me where I stand if I reveal a single thing...in a rather emotional moment involving a character I've heard described as the Jar Jar Binks of the HP series, Dobby the house elf. If you don't end up loving this floppy-eared little guy by the end of this film, you have no soul. There is one more scene afterwards that will have you on the edge of your seat. By the way, I have to give kudos to whoever made the decision to split this into two films. My initial reaction was, 'Oh awesome. Because they don't have enough money to wallpaper the studio with hundred dollar bills.' My feeling now is that there is no way they could have fit it all in one film without rushing the hell out of it. I'll happily give them more money if the next film is anything like this one.
Yates has taken what is the darkest book in the series and made it even darker. He does not pull punches here and takes advantage of everything that a PG-13 rating entails. The action is intense. Beloved characters are injured and die. This is not a film for young children. Yates talked about this film as romantic (in a gothic way) in a sense, where PART 2 will be a war film. And it is. They're outside of Hogwarts. Alone in forests, in front of the grave of Harry's parents. The film give plenty of moments for these young actors to shine. And they do, especially Radcliffe and Watson. They manage to pull off some wonderfully emotional moments and the chemistry between them is fantastic. Heck, I'm not even sure that's acting. (Please understand, I'm talking about their friendship, not a hook up. I am not writing for TMZ here.) These kids have been working together non-stop for a decade. And there are some beautiful scenes between them where this is apparent.
So I guess you want to hear about the famous kissing scene. The one that had Radcliffe calling his co-star 'an animal.' The one that has people railing about it not being in the book, and wondering why they were half naked wearing silver body paint. The one with side boob. Dream sequence my friends. And yes, it's in the book. And having invested in these characters for so many years, it's just as weird for the audience as it is for poor Ron. Weird, and extremely well done. One of the things I love about this series, both in the books and in the films, is that they've allowed child characters to grow up. There is no fear of pissing off parents. No precious attempts to protect child audiences from the realities of what is essentially a war. And no problem allowing characters that are now in their teens to express their sexuality. The lack of white washing is one of the reasons that the seventh film in the series is the best one yet.
One teensy tiny issue. And yes, this is a SPOILER, so I left it until the end. Don't read on if you haven't read the book. If you have a character with a hole where his body part used to be...and you decide to keep in the 'holy/holey' joke, shouldn't the wound look like more than a particularly bloody paper cut? Just saying.
No, you didn't read that wrong. Go ahead. Start the fangirl emails. I can take it.