Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

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Directed by: David Yates

Written by: Steve Kloves

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane

Rating: [3/5]

Trying to break down one story into two parts allows for more to be fleshed out and sets up for a finale not hampered with bloat. However, it does prepare “Part 1” to be sacrificed seeing as it could just feel like the first act out of the other two completed in “Part 2.” This occurs in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 where it feels incomplete as a feature along with having far too much exposition for the narrative to be this far into the overall story. 

Following the death of Dumbledore and the discovery of the Horcruxes that must be destroyed in order to take out Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) along Ron (Ruper Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) head out on their own. In their desperate attempt to avoid Death Eaters and discreetly find the Horcruxes without Voldemort’s knowledge, they prepare to finally take him out. 

Perusing through this feature comes with some level of frustration because it impresses me how much the filmmakers slowed down the story for some character development between these three individuals, but it raises so many distracting questions. It may feel like nitpicks, but when it makes a distinct impact on how the characters act, it must be brought up. This mostly occurs in the sequences between the beloved trio and how the arguments the characters held came because of their proximity to a certain item where so many simpler solutions existed to avoid much of what was going on. I understand a distinct level of stress is occurring here with these characters, but it borders on the ridiculous. Tension existed between these characters before and was whisked away fairly quickly but the way it occurs here feels like it distracts and makes an argument for what could get cut in order to make these two final films one singular feature. 

Additionally, the exposition dumps in this film just get to an absurd point. This series overall has done a very good job teasing things out in order to set everything in motion for the future but with the limited time left, they needed to just dump it all out. At this point, with enough set up from the other films, it felt dissatisfying for there to still be more to be spoon-fed to the audience to comprehend everything going on and set up the later actions. A particular sequence just lays out what the Deathly Hallows are and I realize it’s part of the title just as with every other chapter of the series, but it became shameless at that point. An incredible amount of lore but one that could have been spread in a more convincing manner. 

Where the greatness of this feature appears comes with displaying the grittiness of this war and any hope of still being children get thrown out the window. Along with the continuing dark aesthetic of these films, everything becomes about the combat, espionage, and desperation at hand by both sides. These three characters know what’s at stake should they fail in their endeavor and the weight it puts on them causes adverse impacts on their relationship with others. Although I must say, it’s beyond me why it always appears to be Hermione pining for Ron and how it puts her in sad and compromising situations. It occurs here just like it did in Half-Blood Prince. I understand that the novel did not occur with the casting in mind but it gets to an odd point where you continually have Emma Watson crying over and aggravated Ruper Grint.  Something that has bothered me for quite some time, and I’m not sure it’s within this part of the review I have decided to implant it, but oh well. 

This film becomes all about searching with Harry trying to seek the Horcruxes that could finally bring an end to Voldemort as well the dark lord looking for his own weapon that gets conveniently mentioned in this feature even with Dumbledore wielding it the entire time. It becomes about the journeys they take on and what pieces of them they lose in the process. The film comes with so many unknowns, which the following film, by design, will assuredly answer, which contributes to a sense of dissatisfaction that may cloud our experience of the film. 

Perhaps a result of too much bloat that needed to take one book and turn it into two films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 feels like too much build up and exposition with no real resolution to be considered a complete feature film. It has its heartbreaking moments, which solidifies these characters are at all-out war with each other. Even with all of the criticisms I have for it as a whole, it has just enough in it for me to feel positive about it overall. The level of grittiness it brings sets a new tone, one where these individuals completely join the war and it brings plenty of adverse effects. A decent but incomplete addition.

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