Friday, December 10, 2010

I once had a case of Hogwarts, but a little ointment cleared them right up...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1  (Warner Brothers, 2010)

Before the Camera:

(and they've all been in other Harry Potter movies)

Daniel Radcliffe
Emma Watson
Rupert Grint
Ralph Fiennes
Bill Nighy
Julie Walters
Bonnie Wright
Alan Rickman
Helena Bonham Carter
Jason Isaacs
Tom Felton
Timothy Spall
Robbie Coltrane
Brendan Gleeson
James Phelps
Oliver Phelps
Mark Williams
Andy Linden
Domhnall Gleeson
Clémence Poésy
Natalia Tena
David Thewlis
John Hurt
Evanna Lynch
Rhys Ifans
Matthew Lewis
Imelda Staunton
Toby Jones
Simon McBurney
Warwick Davis as Griphook

And look fast for...
Michael Gambon
Miranda Richardson
Fiona Shaw
Harry Melling
Richard Griffiths
Behind the Camera:
Directed by David Yates
Produced by David Barron, David Heyman, Tim Lewis, J.K. Rowling, John Trehy, and Lionel Wigram
Written by Steve Kloves   based on the novel by J. K. Rowling
Wow, where to begin? It's the seventh film of eight based on a seven book series. If you're reading this it probably means you're already interested in Harry Potter and it's highly possible you've read all seven books more than once, seen all the movies more than once, and that you know more about the stories and characters than I do! But let's press on. This review, much like the film itself, will assume you have some idea what went on before. They certainly don't give us a Chuck-like: "Hi, I'm Harry, and here's some stuff you might need to know" at the top of the flick. As this film opens, the forces of Good (The Order of the Phoenix) and the forces of Evil (Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters) are preparing for their inevitable Final Clash. The bad guys, led by that noseless buzzard (Fiennes) are on the offensive; in a three pronged plan they are: 1) continuing their insidious inflitration of the magic world's government and infrastructure; 2) continuing their search for certain supremely powerful magic items that will help them succeed in their bid for power; and 3) TRYING TO KILL HARRY POTTER. And that has put the Order on the defensive for months with their three pronged counterattack consisting of: 1) avoiding the magic world's government and infrastructure as much as possible - so no Hogwarts school for the kids this time, and the Weaselys aren't going in to work at the Ministry of Magic either; 2) trying to find those supremely powerful magic items first; and 3) KEEPING HARRY POTTER ALIVE. To this end Harry is kept on the move, and the first major setpiece of the movie is a dangerous journey to a new safehouse. But word leaks, and the Death Eaters ambush the Order on the way. Losses are taken, but Harry escapes. Then a second attack not long after shows that Lord V and his pals are pretty adept at finding Harry when he's surrounded by several dozen people, so Harry sets out on his own, returning to the mission Dumbledore gave him previously: finding and destroying the seven Horcruxes (magical items containing a little piece of Voldemort's soul, the better to reduce his mortality) Before Harry can slip away, he is joined by Hermione and Ron, and the three friends go off alone to try to stop Voldemort.

Spoiler! Warner Brothers gave in to the demands of their lead actor -
Daniel Radcliffe now plays almost every role.

    It has truly been a pleasure to watch these three lead actors grow up across seven films. And the story is so cleverly set up - surrounding them at their youngest with an incredible cast of British acting veterans who could provide the buttressing the neophytes needed when they'd barely reached double digits, then letting them carry more and more of Rowling's story in each successive film as their talents grew, and truly making them the stars of this movie, with the veterans in support now. And the same kudos goes for Matthew Lewis (Neville) - he's one of my favorite supporting character actors of all time, moving up right alongside ol' Wedge Antilles!
    I have read all of the books, and I have watched all of the movies, and I have enjoyed each and every one. Sure, a couple of the movies were almost like extended trailers for the higher page count novels, but overall this has been a fairly well done and satisfying series. I don't understand why people crab about the first two movies as directed by Chris Columbus - I think they're marvelous. I'm glad other directors took over along the way though, not due to a lack of talent on Columbus's part - though he can direct on autopilot and pick up a check with the best of them when he's at his worst - but because the stories themselves vary in tone a lot as the series goes on - becoming much darker and lending themselves to different directorial approaches. I think the casting has been amazing down the line - from the major roles of the Hogwarts' professors to the minor parts of some family members who pop up now and then. How awesome too that there have been no recastings across seven movies - except for Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and he gets a pass due to having passed. I do wish there had been acting spots for some of my Brit actor faves - people from the Bond series - Roger Moore would have been cool as a Ministry of Magic official - Timothy Dalton would make a great Death Eater - and surely there could have been a role for Dame Judi Dench somewhere in there?
    But I digress.
    The movies are huge productions, full of wonderful production design and sets; eye-popping special effects, great orchestral scores, and probably a heck of a craft services table - thankfully sequels no longer have to abide by that old Hollywood axiom that each successive sequel will make only 80% of its predecessor's box office, so scale each new movie down by a successively 20% smaller budget to keep your profits in the same range. These movies have only gotten bigger with each new release, but the worldwide ticket sales have proven this to be a very safe investment on Warner Bros part.
     So while I definitely wouldn't recommend this as your starting point into the world of Harry Potter (you'd be beyond lost in five minutes); this is a worthwhile addition to the series and leaves us smacking our lips waiting another couple hundred days for the final entry in the series to make it to theaters. Check it the heck out!
Let's Get Out of Here ?
Very roughly around the 2:00:00 mark, Rupert Grint decides battling Death Eaters in the forest has gone pear shaped.

Eye Candy ?
I don't want to be creepy - but here's now-20-year-old Emma Watson at the premiere of this movie in London:

Yowza - she's gorgeous!

Bling Monkey's Capsule Review

Bling Monkey says: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One was a
pretty magical movie - the ending was a little abrupt, though."

Thanks Bling Monkey! While I explain it to him, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

1 comment:

  1. Craig,

    I saw the movie and I think I need to see it again. I too should have taken a refresher course before going to this one. It definately took off from the last movie and I'm getting older...a review my have served me well. I can't wait for the last installment. My oldest daughter purchased each book on it's release date at midnight and didn't put the book down until she had read cover to cover. She's grown up with Harry & the gang. Thanks for the wonderful review.
    ~Michelle Kauble