I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I tried reading the first book and it just didn’t do much for me (I felt like I’d experienced a lot of the themes and magical elements in comics and Neil Gaiman books, not that they were lifted or anything, but it just wasn’t new to me). I’m also not a big fan of the fantasy genre in general. The missus and her family are big fans of the books and the movies and my parents like the movies too, so we went and saw the flick the day after Thanksgiving. Overall I had a pretty good experience with the movie. I’ve spent a good deal of time talking things over with my in-house expert and still don’t see why no one tried to just shoot Harry Potter or Voldermort in the face, but I’m getting past that hang up.
One of the difficulties I’ve had with some of the latter movies is that sometimes they don’t feel like complete stories if you haven’t read the books. That doesn’t make for a great watching experience if you’re uninitiated. Deathly Hallows Part 1 didn’t seem to suffer from that too much, though I did have plenty of questions after the movie, some of which came from not having seen the previous movie recently and not having a great working knowledge of the film series. I understood going in that this movie wasn’t built for me but I’m happy that it still made sense for the most part.
As I’m sure everyone already knows, this is basically the story of Harry Potter on the run as Voldermort’s forces really ramp up their efforts to get him. Harry runs away with Ron and Hermione, trying to stay out of the way while figuring out what the things that Dumbledore bequeathed to them actually mean and how they can use them to collect and destroy the Horcruxes (which hold a piece of Voldermort’s soul) while also trying to figure out how to take Voldermort down. There’s lots of walking and setting up camp, but also some pretty solid action sequences. The movie has a darkness to it that fits the plot well, especially the excellent animated sequence that felt like it had a 30s German expressionist vibe to it (I’d love to see a whole movie in that style). Much like some of the Lord of the Rings movies I’ve seen, I think the flick could have had some scenes of walking and setting up camp trimmed out and I wasn’t super impressed with how the director showed the passage of time in the film.
There were four things that bothered me a lot in the movie from a storytelling point of view. First off, the kids should have started looking at the things that Dumbledore willed to them sooner. It took way to long for them to really start examining what these clearly important things meant to them and their cause. Second, Ron getting upset thinking that Harry and Hermione were hanging out felt really trite. Third, Harry should have made a much larger hole when he jumped into the water, that was just something silly thrown in to make the whole scene more dramatic, but a person alone in the wintry woods would make as large of a hole as they could before jumping into ice. For whatever it’s worth, I hate that idea that magic only works through a wand and had to be spoken out loud. And finally, why were there no protection spells cast upon Dumbledore’s Pink Floyd-inspired gravesite? The missus explained to me that Dumbledore had been carrying around the wand from the story throughout all the movies, but that no one else knew how powerful it was.
All that being said, I was surprised how dark the movie was. SPOILERS AHEAD That torture scene between Bellatrix Lestrange and Hermione were intense (I think I hate Helena Bonham Carter all around), but the best damn scene in the whole movie involved a CGI creature (not Kreature) getting knifed through a portal thanks to that witch. Dobby has an awesome speech only to wind up dead a few minutes later. I felt so empowered and then kicked in the gut. That’s tricky business but it worked on me. I almost shed a few tears.
I think that’s all I got on this one. One of the reasons I don’t like magic-based fiction is that, all too often, things can be described by saying “It works because it’s magic!” which is a total cop out in my opinion. The missus was able to explain a lot of things to me that made sense and I do have a lot of respect for what JK Rowling was able to create, this is a world very much like the most intricate comic book universes with lots and lots of nooks and crannies that could further be explored, like my spinoff idea which would feature a start-up school for wizards in the United States. Bring in some familiar faces and sass things up with Americans and you’ve got a whole new franchise in the works. I am available to brainstorm ideas. Anyway, I hear the next movie will be pretty balls to the wall which I’m looking forward to.