Time to review the movie as I promised to earlier.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a large book packed with far too many events to wedge into one movie, which was a problem with some of the previous films. Thankfully, Warner Bros decided to split the book into two movies and even then there is barely room for most of the story. Interestingly, I’ve been reading reviews claiming that the magic has gone out of the Harry Potter movies. I disagree and the review will explain why.
First, The Deathly Hallows is about Harry and his friends being forced to grow up. They end up alone in a bleak, frightening, and apparently hopeless world where Voldemort has taken over the Ministry of Magic and is terrorizing the magical world. Keep an eye out for propaganda that resembles that of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union; the movie isn’t subtle about those references. This isn’t a kiddie story anymore, instead it is about the beginnings of a war that doesn’t look winnable.
Deaths occur from the very beginning of the movie, which gets to fast start depicting the preparations by Harry and Hermione for the coming war. Emma Watson has really grown as an actress and her scene with Hermione erasing herself from the memories of her muggle parents is well played. Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry seems more uncertain and stubborn than ever, even as events start spiraling out of his control. His wandering through the now vacated Dursely home is as symbolic as Hermione’s of having to leave home and become an adult.
There are moments of the humor so present in the previous movies, but it is clear this is a grimmer affair as the ending to the first action piece demonstrates. Blood is shed, characters die, and a momentary lull for a wedding doesn’t last long. Quickly, Harry, Hermione, and Ron Weasely are on the run for their lives while trying to finish the late Dumbledore’s quest to find and destroy fragments of Lord Voldemort’s soul – the horcruxes.
One complaint will be made by many and that is the extended time in the wilderness being boring. Once again, I’ll disagree as this gave the young trio of actors wonderful character moments and conveys that they can’t count on older people to bail them out of trouble. Rupert Grint as Ron shines brightest during these events as he has the greatest trouble adapting to the hardship. Ron always did lag behind the other two in maturity and it becomes painfully apparent that he has the most growing up to do. This leads to conflict and a splitting of the trio as jealousies explode into the open.
Along the way to the tragic ending of the movie, we are treated to an animated sequence that recounts what the Deathly Hallows are. That part is pure magic, no pun intended. It is a brief respite before the darkness comes and heroism fails. The magic isn’t gone, but it has grown up.
The ending I liked, because it was a perfect place to split the material and because it reminds me a little of how Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back ended – except with less hope. It left the audience I was with wanting more.
Was this the best of the films? No, but it was one of the best. Seeing the change from school days to early adulthood in the main characters is something that added depth to the Harry Potter series and I appreciated seeing that greatly. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are now having to make adult decisions and fend for themselves and in the end, that is what this movie is about. Of course it is all set up for Part 2 as well.
There is blood, gore, and one “romance” scene that definitely makes this movie not for young kids. The pervasive gloom of the story is punctuated by frightening battles and attacks, so expect lots of tears for nights to come if you make the mistake of taking a young child to it.
As a footnote, I have to say the special effects are the best by far in the series. Watching it in digital HD, I was stunned by the effects involving a certain house elf. The CGI masters have come a long way since Gollum!
If you are a Harry Potter fan, this is a must see film.