Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

25765 / 50000 words. 52% done!

No progress today, I'm afraid. To be fair, if I'd kept writing what I was writing I would have ended up with even more things I'll need to rewrite, as I've ended up deciding that I need to go in a different direction with my story, setting, conflict, etc. than I had in mind when I started. Frankly I don't have much hope of finishing well this year - I have too much reworking to do and not enough time to do it in, and even counting what I've written so far (which I fully intend to do), I'm still way behind where I need to be to net 50,000 words this month.

So let's forget about all that and talk about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

I love J.K. Rowling's books, and many of the movies have been a great deal of fun. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had me worried though. I've long been used to directors skipping over minor plot points from the books, but Half-Blood Prince went out of its way to throw things into the story that didn't need to be there and didn't fit in with the original plot.

Luckily, Deathly Hallows goes back to the original formula for the films, sticking as close to the original book as it can within the limits of film. Some subplots again fall by the wayside (apparently because Mad Eye Moody says so), and one character's demise seems to have been jettisoned for reasons unknown, but the main thrust of the book is captured by the filmmakers.

The set pieces are beautiful, expansive, and really get across that Harry and his friends are no longer confined to Hogwarts; it's a big damn world out there, and a great one to look at. The cast is in full form as well. Aside from a few groaners in the script, everyone turns in a top-notch performance. Ralph Fiennes has come into his own as Lord Voldemort, and Helena Bonham Carter finally seems to have nailed Bellatrix Lestrange.

The tale of the Deathly Hallows was a real treat. It's done as a narrated animation, in a style that evokes the movie Coraline and Terry Gilliam's work. It's a fine piece that stands alone in its own right, and I'd love to see it posted on the web somewhere as a free-to-watch clip by the film company. (Not pirates. The people with actual rights to post it.)

The action and fight sequences are very well done. They don't follow the books, as per usual, but they're exciting to watch. I'm still annoyed by the Death Eater Smoke Monsters the series director(s) have fallen in love with, but there's enough villainy afoot from the actual actors to keep me from getting too mad.

Oh yeah, and scares too! There are a few points that are going to give young kids nightmares, and all of them come straight out of the book. You have been warned.

Overall I'd recommend the movie to anyone who's invested in the films up to now. The cast seems ready to finish out the series with a big finale, and if you've watched the rest of the movies there's no reason at all to stop now.

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