I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I on Saturday, because I’m too old to stay up for the midnight show and too impatient to fight crowds on opening night. My general review: Loved it. Quite in touch with the book, and creepy as ever. For more details, read on. (And don’t worry; I don’t give anything away, unless you haven’t seen the other Harry Potter movies, and if you haven’t … well, why would you go see the seventh one without seeing the other six?)
As you may have noticed on the trailers, the seventh movie does not take place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—a challenge for director, David Yates, to be certain. The very first scenes are downers, as Harry, Ron, and Hermione prepare to say goodbye to the lives they know and go off on their own, in search of Voldemort’s hidden horcruxes (since the only way to kill Voldemort is to kill his horcruxes).
Directly following these downer moments, however, there is comedy. The Order of the Phoenix arrives to take Harry to a safe house, but in order to so, they must use polyjuice potion to become Harry. The Weasley twins, Fred and George, represent the comic relief, and at times, the movie theater sounded as it would during a comedy, instead of a drama—which Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 definitely is, without question.
In regards to the dramatic, somewhat depressing content of the film, don’t worry—you won’t leave the theater with your head hanging low. For instance, I only cried ONCE (and that’s saying something for me). Seriously, though, the screenwriter did a masterful job of weaving comic moments within the darkness. Just when you think the characters are going to burst out in tears, someone says something that makes the characters and audience giggle and realize that it’s all going to be okay … hopefully.
That being said, this is not a kids movie. For one thing, it’s scary. I mean, like, really scary. I jumped a couple times and screamed once. The action sequences are thrilling, but people do die. Oh, and my favorite part? Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, literally comes slithering out of a woman’s dead body. The special effects made it feel real, and in the realness, it was creepy. I would not bring a small child to this movie; I don’t care if it’s Harry Potter. There’s also a random bit of sexual content. (Didn’t see that coming.) It’s in Ron’s nightmare, but I swear, I saw some Hermione side-boob. It wasn’t necessary, I don’t think, and would just confuse the young ones.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I is admittedly very clever. With Voldemort in power, the Ministry of Magic takes it upon themselves to hunt down muggle-borns. In one scene, there’s a book called When Muggles Attack in a desk drawer. In this way, the movie felt like an historical look at America’s Communist red scare of the 1940s and 50s. Also, the retelling of the story of the Deathly Hallows is brilliant. Told not with actual actors, it is instead relived via what resembles a moving, breathing black and white story-board. It sounds simple, but with the expert computer graphics, it was one of the most visually stimulating parts of the film.
And the film is visually stimulating. The filming locations look like dreams. The magic / spell-casting sequences are mind-bending. The special effects wizards at Warner Brothers deserve a pat on the back. They’ve mastered their art, and this is the most beautiful example yet.
For those of you who haven’t read the books, you won’t be lost in Part I of this, the last Harry Potter adventure. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen the movies, I would suggest at least watching Harry Potter 6 (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), just to ignite your memory. Also, when it’s over, you won’t feel cheated, as if you’ve only watched part of a movie. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I has a beginning, middle, and end. And it ends at a good place, especially since we have to wait eight months for Part II. I would suggest seeing it in the theater, because it’s a beautiful film.
At least for me, it’s easier to cry over a movie when it’s dark all around. And if you’re a Harry Potter freak, you will cry.