Monday, November 22, 2010

Book-to-Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I

Yes, that's right, another review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!  I know everyone must be sick to death of reading reviews of the movie by now, but how could I possibly pass up adding my two cents?   If you haven't made it to the theaters yet, then don't worry: No spoilers here!

First I just want to say that I was very happy to see how closely the movie followed the first half of the book.  over the last few movies-- four and six, particularly, they've cut out a lot of important scenes and whole plot lines.  But the new HP follows the seventh book almost religiously-- I couldn't think of any major thing they left out beyond just a few little details that I wouldn't have expected to make it to the screen anyway.

The whole HP series is an emotional roller coaster-- when you're in the theater and it feels like you're right there, in the characters' world, it's impossible to come away unaffected by the drama and the (yes, it's cliche-time) magic.  The books are the same way, and that's why the Harry Potter movies are such magnificent adaptations: they bring viewers the same feeling of being transported into another, far more dangerous and enthralling world, something which I think few movies really manage to do.  Number seven certainly lived up to that legacy: in the theater, I gasped loudly; whispered excitedly (and obnoxiously) to the people on either side of me; at one point I jumped out of my seat in alarm; and during the second-to-last scene, I came very close to crying.  (if you've read the books or seen the movie, then I'm sure you know which scene I'm talking about.)  The story of the Three Brothers as told by Hermione was incredible-- I felt like Tim Burton had suddenly and briefly taken over as director, so eerie and faerie tale-like were the shadow figures and their seamless transition into the film. 

As for the characters, I was very excited to see more of the more minor characters from the books who don't often get featured onscreen.  Helena Bonaham Carter was amazing as Bellatrix, as by 'amazing', yes, I do mean 'crazy as a loon', but in a good, entirely terrifying way.  All the Death Eaters were somewhat how I pictured them and formed quite a macabre crew altogether-- especially Yaxley, he has a much bigger role in the new movie.  Voldemort had much more screen time than ever before and he definitely owned all of his scenes.  I'm relieved, because during the first few movies I wasn't sure if Ralph Fiennes was going to quite live up to the Dark Lord of the books-- looks like I was definitely wrong!  Umbridge was great; Snape was great-- wish we could have seen more of him.  (Completely Irrelevant/ Tiny Spoiler Alert: My sister is convinced that the leader of the Snatchers who picks up the trio in the forest scene closely resembles Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of Green Day.  I somewhat agree... but I think it's mostly the eye make-up.  Did anyone else notice this, or are we both crazy? :) )

And the trio-- Harry, Ron, and Hermione...there's always the question of which one of them stole the show the most, and this time around I think it is definitely Hermione.  Emma Watson has grown so much as an actress from the bushy-haired little girl from the Sorceror's Stone.  She has totally become Hermione in every way for me: she is the strong, intelligent, brave, and beautiful witch who has always been my favorite character of the series.  I look forward to seeing what roles Emma Watson takes on next, and I must say I love her new pixie cut. Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint were none too shabby either-- I particularly love the scene with Harry and Hermione slow-dancing in the tent.

All in all, I do not hesitate to say that The Deathly Hallows Part I is the best Harry Potter movie, cinematic and quality wise-- a high honor, considering how phenomenal Half-Blood Prince was.  The film is just under two hours and thirty minutes long, but is one of those rare movies when you don't even think to check your watch while you're in the theaters.  I'm so glad that the director decided to split the last movie into two parts a while back, because I cannot imagine how they could have possibly told this brilliant and beautiful story within a three hour time frame for a single movie.  And now those of us who feel like we've spent half our lives waiting for the next book or movie to be released can spend eight more months eagerly anticipating Part II. 

Overall Rating:  5/5

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