Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Potter 7: A slow, dazzling, dark experience indeed!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 1 is an exercise in patience for a few different reasons. The first is that the name is so dang long; most people I know have shortened it to Harry Potter 7. Secondly, if you want to see this thing you’re going to have to wait in some pretty long and fanatical lines. Granted, my family went and saw it 5 days early, but we still had to line up at noon for a 7pm showing. My wife took on the difficult task with flying colors and had to weather the storm with three little children. The worst parts according to her was the rabid fans that tried butting in front of her stroller or push her out of line. Makes me wonder if these fans are actually fans of Harry Potter…or maybe just the Dark Lord. Thirdly, the film is a lot more slow and methodical than the previous 6 installments, and I’m here to tell you that this is a good thing.

I would usually go into a plot scenario here, but am willing to bet that people have either seen the previous movies or have read the books. Suffice to say that the film picks up with the trio of friends (Harry, Ron and Hermione) ditching everyone to search for the Horcruxes that keep Voldermorts soul alive. This decision to go rouge was brought on by the fact that Harry, by virtue of being alive, puts everyone around him at mortal risk (lots of injuries and dying in this one). What I was impressed with is the fact that the filmmakers and actors spend time to let relationships and personalities of the various characters emerge. This may seem to some that the film is rather slow and boring, but from someone who appreciates story, it was refreshing to see so many characters get some brief attention. On the peripherals, Luna Lovegood, her Dad, the Weasly twins, Dobby do an excellent job of making the most of their limited screen time. What’s truly amazing is how wonderfully invested we are in Dobby, the little house elf who is merely a computer animated character, but has one scene stealing line after another. Credit that to the writers.

Most of the film rests on the shoulders of the three leads. Watching them grow up on screen has been unprecedented in movie history and now we get to see them mature as actors. I must admit they have improved considerably since their over hammed days of deadpan Ron and fro-tastic Hermione! What seems spectacular from the screenplay and the actors is that none of them upstaged each other. They all seem to have equal importance and effect in the story, literally making the film about the friendship rather than just Harry Potter the chosen one. I was upset that Voldermort did not have a bigger part as Fines seems to relish the role of pure evil. In movies nowadays, everything is blurred somewhere gray and it refreshing to see someone who is purely evil just to be evil. No character flaws or internal turmoil. He is the closest thing modern society has to Dracula or any other fictitious monster.

I was very impressed with the special effects. The first few movies were horrible in that regard (remember the cringe worthy Quidditch matches), but now the filmmakers seem to have gone for a more grounded and realistic feel. The effects are used sparingly for story rather than just to dazzle the eye. In this regard they have become seamless into the Harry Potter experience, rather than the draw itself. The crème-de-la-crème is the story of the Deathly Hollows itself as narrated by Hermione. The animation here was extraordinary, stylized dark and intricate all at the same time. One of my favorite parts of the film. The directing was very good as well even though I felt a lot of the awkward glances and pauses could have been more tightly edited. Weather that is the directors fault in timing the actors or the editors for lingering too long I don’t know, and honestly don’t care. It was a minor annoyance.

Now, my grievances. You really have to know these3 books or movies to understand. You are thrown in without any introduction or explanation. Things you may want to catch up on are 1. Who is everyone? 2. How doe the death eaters keep finding harry when he doesn’t have a trace on him? 3. Who are the grabbers? 4. What age in the wizzarding world are things suddenly acceptable? Apparating, traveling etc. None of these questions or elements are explained and the movie assumes you already know, so if you don’t…get caught up. Also, while I appreciated the extra time the film took to grow the characters, it did slog at some points. The other films were filled with so much energy and adventure; it would be impossible to replicate that feeling with this lonely storyline. Everything seems dark and hopeless and scene after scene of the friends alone in a tent can get repetitive. (Spoiler) The unnecessary computer generated nudity/makeout vision was also dumb. I understand the feeling they were trying to go for in showing inner turmoil and the perception of betrayal, but it could have been done more tasteful and was not necessary.

Other than that I have little to complain about the film. It is much more mature and older than its predecessors which shows that the Harry Potter franchise had indeed grown up and begun to take itself seriously. All this without it loosing its edge of fantastical fun is a triumph indeed. Its not really a film for small children since the themes of love and death may be a little above their heads, especially when they have been waiting in line for tickets for hours. But that was just personal experience. Go, have a good time and enjoy one of the few quality cinematic experiences of the year. It will worth your time, or at least your nostalgia.

Final Consensus:
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!
Don’t Bother

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