Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Saw the 7th Harry Potter film on Thanksgiving weekend, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.
As someone who read all seven of the Harry Potter books, had the last book delivered to my house on the day of release by amazon.com and read the entire 784-page book that weekend, I had high hopes for the movie adaptation (especially since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the best book of the series).
Ultimately I was disappointed with this movie because I thought it focussed far too much on the bleak aspects of the book. Since the last book (and movie) are wrapping up an intricate, immense tale I expected lots of action in the film adaptation. There are several storylines that need to get resolved before the conclusion of the film series. That's not to say that the film is not exciting and gorgeous to look at, but its more of a mature film, since the Hogwarts school is no longer the primary setting for the story (or film).
The basic story is that the most powerful (and evil) magician of all-time named Lord Voldermort killed Harry Potter's parents when he was a child but for some reason could not kill baby Harry. Voldemort vanished from the scene soon after but he is the most feared magician of all time and throughout the first books was more well-known as "He Who Shall Not Be Named." The first four books are about the growing realization that Voldemort's supporters (called Death Eaters) are successfully working to return The Dark Lord to power. We discover that Voldemort has split his life essence into seven pieces called "horcruxes" in order to make himself nearly-immortal but that something went wrong the day he tried to kill Harry Potter and he nearly destroyed himself. Throughout the latter part of the series we have been slowly exposed to these horcruxes and to date two have been destroyed in the process of various adventures.
One more horcrux gets destroyed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, but that means there are four more horcruxes that need to be found (and hopefully destroyed) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 which is released July 15 2011. And the searches for the horcruxes are just the main trunk of the story, which has many many branches and offshoots (romance between Harry and Ginny Weasley, romance between Harry's two best friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, determination of Severus Snape as good or evil, the fate of Hogwarts and revenge for Dumbledore's death, just to name a few).
* END OF SPOILER ALERT*
There is so much story in the final book it seems odd that there is so little story developed in Part 1, which will make Part 2 chock-ful (maybe too full) of plot and resolutions. Part 1 does an excellent job of depicting the baleful middle passage of the book where it is clear that Harry, Hermione and Ron are on their own battling against the forces of the Dark Lord which are ascendant. We do find out what the deathly hallows are (they happen to include objects which showed up in the earlier books: The Resurrection Stone, The Invisibility Cloak and the Elder Wand), which is important, and Ron and Hermione solidify their relationship but that's about it. Some more (mostly) minor characters die, which is possibly foreshadowing that characters may die in the final installment.
Interestingly, Part 1 has generally been well-accepted by audiences (88% positive) but not so much by critics (79% positive) and has grossed $257 million in 24 days of release. It will probably end up just behind Inception (#5 at 292 million) for the 6th highest grossing movie of 2010. Part 2, I suspect will almost certainly be the top box-office film of 2011, even with Thor, Captain America, Pirates of the Caribbean IV, Mission Impossible IV and Transformers 3 in competition during the summer.
I will most definitely be seeing the conclusion of the Harry Potter series on opening weekend next summer.
Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.
Director: David Yates.
Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.
Release Date: November 19, 2010.
Seen: Sunday, November 28, 2010.
Overall Grade: B+ (3.417/4.0).