Thursday, November 18, 2010

Higgens Network: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

Now we near the end. The best finales are the ones that make it seem like there can never be another installment. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I accomplishes this with gravitas.

At this point in the story, hope is slim. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is back in power, Dumbledore is dead, and Harry Potter is being hunted down by every Death Eater in his path. The only chance for survial is to track down and destroy the final horacruxes, pieces of Voldemort’s soul, so that the man can fall as well.

With no clues or guides, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have no choice but to hide. They have no choice but to take dangerous chances, but now there is a new level of stakes. This isn’t about winning the House Cup, but life and death. This is a horrifying film. It is filled with death and despair as the characters are tormented externally and internally.

They are frustrated by their lack of direction—which should not be seen as a fault of the film, but as high praise. Breaking the film into two parts means director David Yates can accomplish all of the powerful emotional moments. The cinematography is jaw-dropping at times as it conveys the toils these three are facing This is the most impressive movie on a technical level. Familiar sets have shifted into a more fearsome arena and the score matches the power.

This is an epic and serious movie. There are other films in the franchise if you want the light-hearted whimsy. This film is here to validate all the build-up of tension and darkness. There are moments of respectful levity, but it’s still with the context of fear.

Despite all of its impressive qualities, there are imperfections that arise. Screenwriter Steve Kloves should not have added so many new characters and elements into the final part. Having a new prime minster makes sense in the book but it doesn’t mean much in the movie, aside from having the chance for Bill Nighy to give a speech.

It can’t be the book but the film knows how to have the emotions that matter. Radcliffe gives an Oscar worthy performance that shows how much has led up to this point. The final installment will be this July. It has been a very bumpy road to the conclusion, but thanks to the direction of Yates the end has the potential to be extraordinary.

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