Coming Soon got wind of a Warner Bros. test screening that took place in the Chicago area for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the two-part finale to the Harry Potter movie series. A source named "Kyle" happened to be part of the test screening and was kind enough to share his thoughts about the film.
As we do with all of our early fan reviews, we'll present Kyle's thoughts to you guys 100% SPOILER-FREE. Even though some people make the argument that "The books have been out for, like, ever!" we realize that some of you guys are only familiar with world of Harry Potter from the movies, and we wouldn't want to ruin anything for you.
Before we get into this, let me reiterate that this "review" is coming from a random person who happened to see a version of Deathly Hallows that was meant for audience testing. It should also be noted that This review is for Deathly Hallows Part I, which is to be released this November; Part II will be coming in July of 2011.
Nothing in this review should be taken as the "official" word on the film (if there is such a thing); the version of the film Kyle saw could (and might) be altered by the time it hits theaters, based on how it tested with audiences.
With those disclaimers now out of the way, here is Kyle's assessment. Again, we've edited it for grammar and to keep it 100% SPOILER-FREE:
I was lucky enough to get invited to a secret test screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I at the AMC River East in Chicago this afternoon. We weren't told what movie we would be seeing until seconds before it started, but my friends and I suspected that it may be Harry Potter due to the Warner Bros signs and the intense security. When producer David Heyman walked in, I was pretty sure what it would be. Director David Yates was also in attendance, and spent some time talking with fans outside the theater after the film.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is a great continuation of the series, thematically and visually in line with films 5 and 6. Though it is a fast-paced film, with several nice set pieces and much-improved performances from the young cast, it does suffer from two major problems. First, it faithfully adapts the seventh book, including the book's own problems. The "camping in the wilderness" scenes become quite repetitive, and the attempts at drama/angst amongst the trio during these scenes comes off as tired. Also, the scenes involving a horcrux that causes its wearer to be angry/aggressive are far too reminiscent of Lord of the Rings.
All three young stars acquit themselves admirably, however, doing the best they can with the material. Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe, in particular, are quite good. The second problem with the film, and this may be fixed by the time the final cut is released, is the editing. Some scenes feel utterly rushed and incoherent (Godric's Hollow, for example). Others go on for far too long (Ron becomes jealous, etc.). There are several flashes / dream sequences that demonstrate Voldemort's search for a special Wand. These are bizarrely edited and poorly executed. Luckily, they are just a small fraction of the film.
Despite these issues, this was a quality film on par with films 5 and 6, both of which I quite enjoyed. As with those films, the cinematography is beautiful. There are several creative and dramatic shots throughout the film, so that even if one gets bored, you could just stare in awe at the scenery. The beginning of the film is also quite exciting...a series of great action sequences. The visual effects were not completely finished in these sequences, but I imagine it was quite close to what the final version will be.
The film ends at a very appropriate spot, and though not exactly a "cliffhanger", left me greatly anticipating Part II.
At the end of the film, we all filled out lengthy questionnaires regarding our opinion of the film overall (I gave it 4/5), as well as our likes/dislikes with the performances, scenes, and other aspects.
Though I will reserve final judgment until after seeing Part II, this is overall an effective and exciting, if not perfect, continuation of the series that struggles with some of the same problems as the final book, but mostly overcomes them through excellent technical aspects and performances.
If you're one of those people who only became familiar with Harry Potter when the movies came out, then by now you surely know just how slavishly loyal (fanatical?) fans of J.K. Rowling's books are. It certainly helps fans of the novels to hear an early word on Deathly Hallows from someone who is seemingly familiar with the books, although, as someone who's only read a couple of them, I would like to hear an opinion on the film from someone who is only judging it as a film.
Still, the Deathly Hallows trailer makes these movies look epic regardless of any other factor. Add the fact that we've watched actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up before our very eyes (in almost perfect tune with their onscreen counterparts) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows takes on a whole other dimension of significance and accomplishment. Based on what Kyle has to say, it would seem that we're in for an enjoyable time.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I will be in theaters on November 19th - Part II will be in theaters on July 15, 2011.
Source: Kyle via Coming Soon