‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1′ Review

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review
Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw reviews Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

There are three types of people who are going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: People who were diehard fans of the books; people who have been faithful fans of the movies; and finally, people who have seen some of the movies and know something about the books (at this point how could you not?), but have really only admired the Potterverse with a casual eye.

The first two types of people will very much enjoy Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – but that casual fan may not walk away with same sense of satisfaction from what is essentially half a story, chock-full of references and characters that could fill an entire page on Wikipedia.

The movie starts exactly where the last one left off: Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has waged war on the world. The Ministry of Magic has been corrupted. Wizards and witches everywhere fear for their lives. Even “muggles” aren’t safe from The Dark Lord’s reign of terror. Dumbledore, the great protector, is dead, and every evil “Snatcher” or “Death Eater” in the wizarding world is trying to get their hands on Harry Potter.

Trapped under this growing shadow, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grit) quickly learn their childhood has come to an end. They are soldiers in a war now, no longer children in a school; sacrifices must be made and lives lost if they are going to defeat Voldemort. Harry has tasked himself with seeking out the remaining Horcruxes – magical talismans which contain shards of Voldemort’s soul – only he has no idea where to begin searching or even how to destroy the enchanted objects once he finds them.

Soon Harry and two best friends are on the run, hiding out in the countryside, desperately trying to come up with a plan to beat Voldemort – even as The Dark Lord himself is scrambling to locate an object of immense power that could turn the tide of battle in his favor.

Harry Potter the Deathly Hallows movie clip Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review

Daniel Radcliffe in a scene from 'Deathly Hallows'

J.K. Rowling’s Deathly Hallows novel was a beast. We’re talking about one thick book. Warner Bros. could’ve “streamlined” the film into a bare-bones interpretation of the text, but for the fans (and the box office receipts) they decided to deliver the final chapter in the Harry Potter saga as the sweeping epic it was meant to be – to both the benefit and detriment of these final films.

David Yates has directed the last two Harry Potter movies (Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince), and all things considered, I would have to say that he’s outdone himself with this latest film. In my opinion, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 visually surpasses all the previous films in the Harry Potter franchise – yes, even Alfonso Cuarón’s fantastic third entry, The Prisoner of Azkaban.

The color schemes and tones of this film are very crisp, dark and vivid, and the cinematography I would go so far as to call gorgeous. The world of wizards looks vibrant and alive and yet is constantly shrouded in the darkness and shadow that is literally and figuratively descending upon it. Because this film pulls the main characters out of their usual year-at-wizard-school routine and stashes them in woodland settings, Yates even gets to bathe our visual palettes in rich earth tones – browns, dark greens, stone grays – colors that have been somewhat missing from other Harry Potter films.

deathly hallows emma watson Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review

Emma Watson as Hermoine in a scene from 'Deathly Hallows'

However, there is another dimension of Yates’ direction of Deathly Hallows: Part 1 that will simultaneously impress some and bore others to tears: the quieter and more meditative portions of the film. Some people will say “the middle hour dragged,” and others will say “some of the best scenes were the slow ones,” it really does depend on what you came through that theater door to see. A large portion of this film involves Harry, Ron and Hermione literally sitting around in a magic tent sulking, worrying, and/or yelling at one another. If you consider yourself one of those movie goers who likes to see action, action, action, you will likely get bored by the abundance of static moments in this film.

What will make this two and a half-hour journey even harder for “action types” is that this film offers no real “payoff” to speak of. Over the course of the movie there are a lot of setups, some small developments, some big developments that won’t feel big (yet), and a couple of dramatic turns that will totally hit or miss, depending on your level of Potter fandom.

And speaking of fandom: unless you’re one of the book fans who has already memorized the entire Harry Potter chronology, or a movie fan who has recently watched all six films back-to-back, there are a lot of references, inferences and name drops in Deathly Hallows: Part 1 that could soar right over your head. The book was meant to tie up every plot line from six (thick) novels – even in a slimmed down movie there are a lot of plot points to remember. Potterphiles will enjoy the sight of familiar faces and the mention of familiar events and objects; everyone else may be left scratching their head.

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Trailer 6 570x238 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review

The cast all know this dance pretty well by now. The supporting players (such as Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes,  Helena Bonham Carter – even newcomer Bill Nighy) all turn in some wonderful ensemble character acting, but it’s the three central players – Radcliffe, Watson and Grint – who steal the show here. And it’s fortunate that they rise to the task, considering that most of the film revolves squarely around the three of them.

If you couldn’t tell from seeing their faces plastered on billboards, TV ads and merchandise all over the world, these three young stars are now grown. Like their characters, we’ve watched Radcliffe, Watson and Grint sprout before our eyes – an amazing maturation that admittedly makes things a bit awkward in sections of Deathly Hallows. While these actors are now adults, free to explore more adult themes and situations, it’s hard not to look at them and still see the same kids you met way back in the first Potter film.

In fact, people are already talking about one scene created solely for the movie, in which Harry and Hermione try to break the monotony of loneliness and stress with an awkward, quasi-romantic dance party. I’m sure many other people will also be talking about a sexually suggestive scene near the end, in which one character is forced to face their darkest fear. Between an increased air of sexuality and dark moments of violence, torture and (oh yes) death, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 also represents a chapter of the Harry Potter saga that is probably too much for small kids to handle. Teenagers? Not so much. But small kids will definitely walk away a bit scathed.

deathly hallows trio Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review

Harry, Hermoine and Ron in a scene from 'Deathly Hallows'

To their credit, Radcliffe, Watson and Grint have all developed into skilled actors, and Watson is especially good at filling the quiet moments of her performance with genuine and engaging drama. It’s certainly debatable, but I’d say that the actress actually steals the show from her two co-stars, who are equally good in their more adult roles.

While there is no “ending” to speak of, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 cuts off at a point where the stage is fully set for the epic showdown that will take place in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. That second half of the story should be a non-stop thrill ride – one that comes at the expense of a first half which is a lot of build up with little payoff. So long as you can accept the fact that you’re paying to see only half a story, then you should enjoy the many appetizers that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 serves.

Here’s a trailer for Deathly Hallows:

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Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. One of the things I have liked about some of the earlier installmets is that they have been willing to drop some of the elements from the books in order to make an entertaining film.
    “It was just like the book” is always a phrase that makes me nervous.

    • thats what some fans dont like about the previous hp films and i think a perfect adaptation is what deathly hallows needs and will work for the better when you see part 2 :)

      • i agree ben,guys wait for part 2. It will be EPIC.

  2. It was a great movie. It was so similar to the book and was exactly how I imagined the new characters and scenes. They did the 3 brothers story scene extremely cleverly and it added something new to the film. It’s definitely different than the others and is much darker. 5 out of 5 for this one and I completely support the 2 part decision. From what I’ve heard, part 2 is going to be the action packed movie so it will be better than this one. Can’t wait!!

  3. have to disagree with Rob here, not sure that they could have boiled down the first half of the book to 20 minutes. It’s like saying you didn’t really need the Two Towers film, you could have just had a few characters say, “That fight against those 10,000 orcs from Isengard was a b**** but at least we still have time to make it to Gondor!”

    Yates did his best to trim where he could and de-emphasize the characters who play a significant role in book 7 without dwelling on them and as many threads as there were to connect in the HP story, each had to be given at least a nod to try and tie those threads up in a somewhat satisfactory manner before moving on to the final confrontation. Yates de-emphasized the love story aspect but also gave a fair shake to the anguish in the book of being told to figure out the solution to the problems with very few clues. He’s walked a fine line (probably after he and Kloves, the screenwriter, consulted Rowling) with trimming the story down to essentials without cheating the characters of their moments in the story.

    For those who felt that the movie was incomplete, well duh, it’s part one of two, naturally its going to feel that way.

  4. harry’s got a mustash and a beard growing

    • ofcourse hes 17 LOL

  5. Good movie. It’s good to finally see another Horcrux destroyed, and the Seven Potters scene was cool. Bill, Mundungus, and Scrimgeour have been introduced now, and Fleur and Dobby both reappear for the first time in a while. This movie might be better than the previous four.

    My only complaints are: (may contain spoilers)

    1.) They could’ve atleast explained why Death Eaters appeared whenever someone said Voldemort’s name (the Taboo) or what the mirror shard was (Sirius’s mirror). But that’s only minor to what comes next.

    2.) They left Hedwig, Mad-Eye, and Dobby’s deaths relatively accurate to the book (with slight differences in the case of Hedwig) but cut out the deaths of Wormtail and Grindelwald. I think Voldemort left right after Grindelwald told him. So in the book, Grindelwald is implied to show remorse and tries to keep Voldemort from getting the Elder Wand, and Voldemort kills him, while in the movie, Grindelwald tells Voldy where the Elder Wand is and Voldemort doesn’t kill him like he did Gregorovitch? Hopefully they kill Wormtail off in Part 2. Good thing I was warned about it beforehand I was looking forward to that scene.

    Which makes me afraid that they’ll cut out the death of Bellatrix in Part 2 (as it is irrelevant to the overall plot), and maybe even Snape, seeing as how graphic it was in the book and that if Voldemort kills him instantly he can’t give Harry his memories. I was a bit worried about Voldemort, but now I’m not because they’ve showed Malfoy disarming Dumbledore, Harry disarming Malfoy (both of which are significant in the book as we know), we know Harry fights Voldemort at the end and with talk of Harry, James, Albus, and Lily in the epilogue, combined with “Neither can live while the other survives”, do the math.

    I hope they do show the Chamber of Secrets scene though, cause we never saw it in the book. How are they going to discover what the other Horcruxes are? How will they even know Nagini is a Horcrux?

    • Um,if snape doesnt die im walking out. But its benconfirmed that he does,so its all good..


    There was no Friggin GREEN LANTERN trailer!!!!!!!

    We got there 30 minutes before the screen opened, then sat through 20 minutes of adverts!
    Why did you guys get me amped for this when it wasn’t there?? I was sorely disappointed before the movie even started! Lucily I enjoyed the film but still…

    Is it only showing in America before Harry Potter then??

    • different theatres show different trailers before each movie

      • !!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY??

  7. good work mr outlaw, I gave it 5 out of 5 but Im a fan, I agreed with almost every point you made and felt you were right on about the visual quality of the film. is it just me or is the soundtrack emotionally light years ahead of the others and really beautiful. The others were great and worked well with the tones of the other films but Im glad they went with Desplat for these two films.

    • The music is so much better because John Williams is back. He did the first two HP films when Chris Columbus was directing them, then they got some other people for 3,4,5,and 6, but he’s back now, for the last two and I couldn’t be happier. If you know anything about movies you’ll know John Williams is beast at movie scores. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones, etc. Yeah. This guy knows how to make music. Sometimes I forget how much music can impact a movie, but I was completely reminded of it in this film.

      • He’s not back.

  8. I’m sad to say the first 2/3′s of the book bored me to tears! I did not have high hopes for this film, but after I saw it tonight, I have to say it made up for the book! I could not be more pleased! It really brought the book to life and added humor where needed, and intensity and drama everywhere else! What a great opportunity for these young actors to be able to sink their teeth into these ideas and themes and subtext. Masterful! My hat off to Mr. Yates! I can not wait to see part II now.

  9. Would like to say that the Green Lantern trailer in our theatre was nearly awesome but not actually inspiring… you didnt miss as much as you might have thought… I would use the word ‘Cheesy’ but I do not wish to offend. I think it was very ’2 Dimensional’ and didnt pull enough diverse audience attention… As for the Full Length Potter Feature… Loved it…

    We all know that the series is ending and that our little wizards are growing into complexly confused adults with all sorts of political departures which makes them more real and more mundane… Look at the Malfoy Family transformation and the strange relations with Luna and her father in the Wedding Party… these ‘mechanisms’ of moving plot are the vestages of keeping us believing the evolutions of the wizarding community which is not so far from the Muggle Domain socially apparently.

    This film is meant to lull you into some sense of acceptance and for tify the real fans of Rowland to actually pick up some of the books and go back to read about all these high profile beings instead of just gloss over the life spans of the rich and immortal… The true finale will be really something to behold as was the scene in the ministry hall where Bellattix and Voldemort battle Dumbledorf and Potter… This film satisfies the author that everyone will have all the loose ends tied up in a nice little package so that she can offer us a bit more in the close which moves us beyond what the actual text offered to do honor to the long standing series and its legacy of …. spin off options…. The Timeless Tradition of Wizarding and Hogwarts as a gateway to such arts

    Yes this film is intricate like the psyche of our characters who are filling out their full identity before becoming those ancient ones that we will read about somewhere in the future of other stories as though they were the Albus and Minerva and Hagrid of the future….

    Anyone pick up on this idea? The muggle world will need to be restored to order as well as the Gringots Gremlin Society so that all may be intact again… this film is not for folks who want mindless sex symbols and perfect poster shots… it is for an entrenched community who are both audience and co-creators of a future in the void where the likes of Marvel, DC, Star Trek and Star Wars were all born

  10. that movie was awesome……Ricky, have you seen it in imax yet?

    if not, the best way to describe an imax is the theatre version of blu-ray lol

    • nope i havent ben :(

  11. I can understand non potter fans not liking half of a movie. But as a potter fan let me tell you that his movie was very well done.

  12. I can genuinely see that it was a well made film with a lot of depth but, I honestly found it too long and boring in parts. It was a struggle to sit through in a packed cinema! I think its more of a sit at home and watch on the big tv type of film.

  13. Saw it yesterday. I absolutely loved it.

    I had just a slight nitpick: every time that they discussed a horcrux they seemed to have a new idea of what to do next whereas in the book they spent most of the time going over the same old facts. I know the absence of more discussions was probably because of time and pace constraints, but it would be nice if they had put one or two in there.

    Besides that, I found the movie beautiful and well made. Great acting all around.

    • I agree David :)

    • however, you have to remember that this is already a two-movie gig. Whereas in the books Rowling has hundreds of pages for puzzling and discovery, Yates had three hours tops to fit in a bunch of stuff. To their credit, not a lot of time was available for the questioning and wondering.

  14. I enjoyed the movie very much. Having read all the books, at least twice, it was great seeing it put into film. This film stayed more true to the book than previous films, but still strayed in some areas in which I would have loved to have seen it played out correctly. The scene I missed the most was Kreacher’s tale of the locket. I wish that would have been done by the book. This scene was very important to me to expand on Kreacher’s past and show the change in his and Harry’s relationship. Otherwise, it was excellent and I can’t wait to see Part II. I think I’ll go through and read the books again to prepare. Cheers.

  15. i love harry potter soo much but i was truly disappointed in this movie. Since I had walked out of the theater after halfblood prince i could not wait for dh to come out. I just feel like it wasn’t engaging enough. Usually when i watch HP i feel like i’m part of the action, but this movie i was struggling to get through. I have high hopes for part two and hope i dont get disappointed.

  16. I have not read the books but my daughter has… and I love living this movie through her eyes and thoughts… (she is 10)… and I will have to say I loved this movie especially the ending! It did feel like a set-up for part two and was long in parts for that set up but wow! It would be great if movies could end with such power… and leave one guessing and wanting more!

    Can’t wait for the finale!

  17. ive always loved harry potter since i was nine which was how old i was when it first came out. and fell in love with the main characters when i read the story and always tried to imagine myself and what my life would be like at hogwarts and who my bffs would be and my bf (i always pictured myself with harry as my bf.) lol but at here at my school and my family i happen to be the harry potter expert and no i haven’t seen it i know the new movie was amazing though i didn’t really like the 5th movie because of how far off i t was from the books but other than that i love the movies. i guess you can say im a potter fanatic

  18. I don’t think few things are more engaging than a great brain-stimulating blog article.

  19. I have been a big fan of the HP franchise. Unfortunately, I felt very disappointed in this latest installment; HP and the Deathly Hallows I. I anxiously awaited the return of our three heroes, and their terrible villains. The movie actually dragged on in places, and I felt a little bored, which never occurred in a HP movie before. The film was so dark and black at times, I never did get to view the actors or their response to their lines. Who knows what was on screen? It was so dark for much of the time, it got monotonous.

    As previously stated, I got bored very easily with the black screen, while being forced just to hear their voices for an inordinate amount of time. Also, the storyline seemed to suffer for the first time in a HP movie too! Actually, I was glad the film was coming to an end. This is so unlike me, because I was a big fan of the HP books, and normally, one of the first to see the HP movies. I truly loved all the previous HP films, but I was so disappointed in this film!

    Let’s hope the last installment of this series, will bring back the original excitement and suspense that this movie lacked.

  20. Read all the books, and think the movie was a great adapation of the book, the beginning of the last book is slow, and to be fair to the movie it had to go off the book which has made it not the best of the harry potter films but in all it’s a great build up for part 2 film. Defently have to watch this.

    Rated in 3.5/5 done really well like said before i didn’t think the last book was written overally that well but the film is a great adaption of the book.