D: David Yates. DP: Eduardo Serra. W: Steve Kloves. Starring: Daniel Radcliffe/Emma Watson/Rupert Grint/Ralph Fiennes/Jason Isaacs/Bonnie Wright/Helena Bonham Carter/Alan Rickman/Tom Felton/Bill Nighy/Toby Jones/Imenda Staunton/John Hurt/Rhys Ifans. (NOTE: References made to J.K Rowling books and previous Harry Potter films)
It has been a long wait for Potter fans as last July’s release of Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince has meant a long fifteen months before Potter could be seen on screens again. Of course, this only gives fans and cynics alike enough time to go back to the novels and make their own plan for the final films, as this last novel is being split into two films.
First of all, I can say it is wonderful that this last installment will be two films. Not only because it means audiences get more Potter and Warner Brothers makes more money, but because it allows for more to be shown. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows is fraught with action, turmoil, and decisions that affect the life and death of a lot of characters. And thankfully, splitting this novel in two (although subjecting the first to feeling a bit too transitional) benefits the story and Harry’s journey.
Harry (Radcliffe) is again directed by David Yates, who directed the last two films, and slides right back into his role as the chosen one. With a clear handle on where the story is going and what he wishes to emphasize, Yates is able to pull the audience back into Radcliffe’s world without shying away from the darker place it has become. Dumbledore’s Army a distant memory, Radcliffe’s abandonment of Hogwarts marks the first visual distinction of this film from its predecessors. And although some audiences may miss Hogwarts’ familiarity, it is clear that Radcliffe is running for his life and gathering his own intel (with the help of Watson’s Hermione of course) for his obviously ultimate confrontation with Voldemort. Also, thankfully, Radcliffe remains likable, although I wish his decision to end his relationship with Ginny (Bonnie Wright) in deference for her safety was an actual plot point as it is an illustration of his maturity.
A much larger presence in this film, Fiennes’ Voldemort continues to bask in his cloak and Oscar worthy make-up. His Voldemort is in such command that Fiennes’ is able to ground the film in a realistic sense of doom and violence. His performance is complimented by Yates’ balancing between Voldemort’s death eaters and Radcliffe’s search to destroy the remaining horcruxes. Radcliffe’s search thankfully also includes Watson who continues to hold her ground as Hermione, whose friendship with Harry and (very private?) relationship with Grint’s Ron, as always, causes her stress. The group chemistry, however, helps keep the pace of the film going. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is thankfully also riddled with famous British actor bit parts that round out the Potter world. Rhys Ifans makes a delightful daddy Lovegood and even Bill Nighy steals some scenes as Rufus Scrimgouer.
For this installment Yates’ enlisted cinematographer Eduardo Serra, who like Bruno Denmonnel in the last film, is able to close the frame around his actors. There is a danger on screen that is the necessary evolution of the franchise. More successful than Denmonnel, Serra will be involved in part two and the final Potter film. Yet once all the films are done will be the true testament, as we will all be able to sit back and decide what is truly the most successful Potter film.
Yet, like I said fifteen months ago, there will never truly be one film to satiate the Rowling appetite. The books are far to engrossing, charming and need I say, magical, for any movie to really capture what a reader sees in his/her mind. But it is safe to say that with this newest film no one leaving the theaters will think Harry Potter all too innocent anymore (and thankfully not just for children).