"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I" Movie Review

11/27/2010 Posted by Admin

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I”

Movie Review

Directed by David Yates, written by Steve Kloves, 146 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

The new Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I,” is the seventh film in the franchise, and time is on its side.

The actors possess their best chemistry yet (as well they should--they've practically shared each other's Pablum), and the chemistry shows. With seamless ease, they slip into this darkening otherworld of growing evil and deliver performances that deepen the story to such a degree, you now can fully feel just how high the stakes have become.

Unlike the previous films, there are almost no comic asides in "Hallows." We're at the boiling point now, so much so that Dumbledore is dead, Hogwarts has shaken Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) free, all must flee their homes and their families--and all because of the vicious Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who at last is ready to undo them all over the course of two movies. This is the first. The final installment is set to appear in July 2011, where it will own the month.

David Yates directs from Steve Kloves’ script, itself based on J.K. Rowling’s book, and what they've created is a grim movie that stacks the deck for all that will come next. As such, a good deal of "Hallows" is unsettling and intense, more grounded and focused than any other film in the series. Here, we're after Horcruxes again, which if all are found and smashed, will take Voldemort down forever.
Trouble is, when you find a Horcrux and wear it, which is the best way to protect it, its darkness tends to darken you.

A good deal of "Hallows" is spent either searching for the Horcruxes or hiding from Voldemort's smoky minions, such as the Death Eaters or Helena Bonham Carter's wonderful Bellatrix Lestrange, a wild toss of Gothic frizz who gives the movie a wild edge during those few moments she’s allowed onscreen. Also back is Alan Rickman's Severus Snape, who now sits at Voldemort's table, where a serpent is invited to eat a living woman whole while no one objects. In fact, they encourage that act, which happens off-screen.

To get through this PG-13 horror, Harry must rely more than ever on those close to him, so much so that in one scene, his friends literally become him. Imagination always has marked this series, with Rowling taking obvious delight in squeezing her characters into dire of situations. That's the thrill and, for some characters, also their undoing.

Charged to gather up and obliterate the four remaining Horcruxes, Harry and company have no choice but to do so to defeat Voldemort. And so the movies plunges forward, with audiences treated to stories tucked within stories and a handful of harrowing scenes, not the least of which involve Harry trapped beneath ice and another scene that involves animation so beautifully rendered, it's by far the film at its best.

For a series that, once finished, will have taken a decade to tell just one story, it's remarkable that with few exceptions, this story has been told so cleanly and well. "Deathly Hallows Part I" is no exception. The movie satisfies with new revelations and twists, one of which is so unexpected (at least for those who haven't read the books), it left many in attendance at my screening angry and saddened--but also charged for the epic revenge that must occur if "Deathly Hallows Part II" hopes to be the best and most rousing "Potter" of the lot.

Grade: A-

View WeekinRewind.com's preview of "Deathly Hallows Part I" below:

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