Anyone that hates Harry Potter, just don’t read this. If you’re waiting for me to complain like Xan Brooks about it all, don’t read this either.
The weekend the film was released, it grossed an estimated $125.1 million at the box office, beating the record $102.7 million held by the opening weekend of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. If I had been more on the ball I would have gone to the premier at Leicester Square and thanked Rowling for bringing such an ingenious (and not to mention money-making) idea into the world.
David Yates is once again directing, after bringing us Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix and Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. One thing that I do love about the film is the backbone of British actors that the film possesses- Alan Rickman as Snape gave a spot on performance and I’m eagerly awaiting the second part of this film to see the character reach his full potential. Yes, Warner Brothers may be an American company, but essentially it is the British cast that makes these films.
The film, like the actors, has finally matured, bringing to the surface the dark potential that is evident in the books. This was greatly received by myself and peers, who, growing up with Harry Potter, have been waiting for the films to get out of their “commercialism” chains and start realizing the depth of the books. The opening scene, where Voldermort (played well by Fiennes) has the Death Eaters gathered around the “muggle studies” teacher of Hogwarts is raw and blunt, something that the films have previously shied away from being. Another similarly raw scene come with the visit to Bathilda Bagshot, where the scene crashes into a child’s nursery, cleverly playing with its connotations and highlighting the ideology that Harry is certainly far away from childhood. It is also, to date, one of the best films for being faithful to books: word for word dialogue, loyalty to the plot, character progression, and the diversity of the relationship between Harry, Ron and Hermione are strong aspects to the success of the film’s reception. This may be due to Rowling producing, or the simple fact that the characters have grown up and are no longer in the safety of Hogwarts.
As an avid fan, however, I was disappointed to see that they hadn’t included the narrative where we learn of Kreacher’s involvement with Regulus Black or explained in better detail the history between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Also, amongst other small details, the film didn’t include Remus Lupin’s argument with Harry. Bill’s character was fleeting in the film and Charlie and Percy were not seen at all.
Director Yates does a superb job at bringing in the comedic element of the Weasley twins and although we see Ron challenging a darker side to himself, the film still reflects his happy-go-lucky attitude with funny innuendo. Watson has greatly redeemed herself, bringing forward Hermione as a more determined, strong character, especially once the trio begin searching for the horcruxes. It was effective to open the film with Hermione wiping her parents’ memories, as, in the films, we have never been given an insight to Hermione’s muggle world. Radcliffe asserted himself more in this film and I was pleasantly surprised to hear some witty one-liners from him. All three actors have challenging moments in the film and they fulfill their task with great flair, specifically the conflicting scene between Ron and Harry prior to Ron’s departure. There is a great sense that Yates was really pushing the intensity of the film this time, there isn’t the same rushed feeling as the other films and although some critics have complained at the length of “horcrux hunt” I feel it was needed as Yates focuses on the emotion behind each character. What is poignant is an added scene where Harry, in an attempt to cheer Hermione up, dances her around the tent; it’s very real and helps build the substance to their characters. There is also the much talked about scene with Harry and Hermione when Ron destroys one of the horcruxes- I must admit I was shocked at this and couldn’t help but laugh.
This recent installment of Potter-power is visually dynamic- from the very beginning the graphics are outstanding, most notably in a fast paced chase sequence with Harry hanging out of the sidecar of Sirius’s old motorbike and the impressive image of Voldermort “streaming” through the air alongside him. In telling the tale of Beedle the Bard, Yates made the great choice to use animation- this was pure visual genius and some welcome diversity to the films. The animation was very well delivered, atmospheric and memorable, which is key, as the story plays an important role in the entirety of the Deathly Hallows. Even the hue and saturation were planned to detail and enhanced the darkening mood of the film well. Finally, one of the key aspects to film that made it visually stimulating was the choice of locations- some of the outside shooting, woodlands, beach scenes were stunning and truly reflected the mood of the scene; specifically during their time camping, where the trio find themselves in some pretty impressive surroundings, emphasising their seclusion and vulnerability.
Overall, one of the best Harry Potter films I’ve seen. Although I came out of the cinema picking at small details and getting slightly detracted by the fact of Rupert Grint’s sudden growth spurt, I was happy with what I had seen. I just wish the last six films had the same integrity and quality.
The second installment of the Deathly Hallows will be released on July 15, 2011.