Monday, 22 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

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Dir: David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
Regular Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes
Additional Cast: Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Jason Issacs, Peter Mullan, Evanna Lynch, Rhys Ifans
UK/USA, 2010

Seen: Early morning show on November 20, 2010 at the IMAX AMC Y&D

Reason to see: It's Harry Potter!! I'm a big fan - last year I even did a countdown of revisiting & reviewing all the films so far.

So, first off I'm a big fan of the books and films in the Harry Potter world and I can't really imagine anyone heading into The Deathly Hallows Part 1 without having seen at least the first six films adapted by the J.K. Rowling books. I don't think you have to have read the books to enjoy this latest instalment, although it may help and/or enhance the experience.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 we follow our beloved trio of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), who embark on a journey set to them by Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which takes them into the great big yonder on their own as both the muggle and magical worlds starts to fall apart under the infiltration and influence of the Death Eaters and evil Lord Voldemort.

One of the things the series has done so well, and continues to do here, is aligning the characters journey's to the challenges of growing up and we certainly see here the challenge of trying to make it by in an adult world when the characters are just on the cusp of that themselves. Faced with formidable tasks and trying to survive strains of relationships, the film brilliantly pairs these challenges through different filters, sometimes tugging on our emotional heartstrings and other times providing moments of much needed comic relief. I continue to be impressed with the infusion of humour in the films, it works very well here just as it did in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, arguably two of the darkest chapters in the series therefore the lightness, when we get it, is much appreciated.

It's an interesting spin on flying the coop here as we not only see the kids out their on their own, but it's a load of muggles, mudbloods as well as our heroic trio all scambling to live under the cover of darkness during the dark and intolerant times in the magic world that have now reached them. The ever present threat surrounding the world in addition to the ominous tone of the quest they are on, the film has a really strong weight to it. I was initially resistant of the the idea of splitting this last novel into two films, but now I'm really glad that they did because we get to spend solid, quality time with Harry, Hermione and Ron here and I think the audience really needs that. We know we are starting to say goodbye to the series, but it gives us some time to continue to enjoy their relationships as they grow individually and together. I found myself crying which watching, knowing how close to the end we are.

Even being this close to the end we actually have some great new additions to the cast, I was particularly thrilled to see Peter Mullen as Ministry baddie Yaxley, I've been a fan of his from seeing films at film festival (True North, Boy A, Red Riding Trilogy), he does a fantastic job here falling seamlessly into the world and has an impressinve, memoble presense amongst other characters weve known for years. I also loved the casting choices for Luna's father, Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans of Greenberg, Mr. Nobody, Notting Hill) and eldest son of the Weasley contingent with Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson - whom we'll see again in 2010 in True Grit). How on earth is it possible he wasn't in any of the other films? I guess he really was in Romania all that time!

In terms of an adaptations, I continue to be impressed with what they focus on and how they choose to tell the story and the choices they've made to streamline in certain cases which work rather well. As a nit pick, there was one choice that I that was a slightly odd, and dare I say, more racy than I'd expect. I mean, I know they are suppose to be of age now and the films age with the characters, but overall the series does still feel overall like a kid's adventure so this did feel a little out of place. There also was also an actual unintenional (I believe) laugh out loud moment in the film which would be the first for the series, and I'm really curious to see if that happens in all the screenings I go to.

Overall though, I loved it. Absolutely loved it and I love the time and attention that the series has taken to tell the story and let the characters grow over the years. I'm thrilled they chose to do the two films and I loved this instalment, and likely will like it better than Part 2 as the focus here is strongly on the characters, relationships and the calm before the storm. It's absolutely brutal that we have to wait until July 15, 2011 for the last film of the series. You can feel the energy building and the stakes get higher and higher. We are so close to the end of this epic and compelling journey, but will we ever really be able to say goodbye? We'll have to wait and see.

Warnings: Torture

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll see it again and again and again
I'd recommend it for anyone who has enjoyed the Harry Potter series so far - you know who you are!

14 minutes of preshow (which started 5 minutes early!) including 6 previews: Aliens & Cowboys, Green Lantern, Born to Be Wild, Cars 2, Mars Needs Moms and The Green Hornet

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010

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