Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
This movie is dark. It is intense. It is gut-wrenching. One of the very first scenes is Hermione casting a spell to remove herself from her parents' memories, so that they would be safe. I almost broke down right there.
The cast has all matured into these roles brilliantly. Obviously, many of the adults were already experienced and recognized talents long before being cast for this movie. But all of the kids have really come a long way from the first movie. The core trio have some really excellent chops individually, and some fantastic chemistry as a group. But even the relatively small bits from characters such as Neville and Luna show that they have a lot of talent.
I also have to really hand it to the director. The first half of this book dragged. While the movie had its slow parts as well, most of it was paced really well. I was totally sucked in from the first moment. There were only a few moments where the movie loosened its grip. And yet, the movie still hit every plot point it needed to, gave every important character the moment in the spotlight that was needed, and stayed wonderfully emotionally true to the story.
As always, the visuals in this movie were absolutely fantastic. I'll come back to that in the spoiler-y bit below with specific examples. But, the producers and visual arts teams continue to outdo themselves. Everything, from the sets to the costumes to the special effects to the, um, special bit (again, see below) was just perfect.
I can't do a movie review without finding something negative to say. Um.... Oh yeah! Bill Nighy plays Rufus Scrimgeour. But, his voice was just too close to Davy Jones. I kept expecting him to say, "Tell me Harry, do you fear death?" *grin*
Probably the most important note is that the screenwriters and director have finally gotten the knack of adapting the novels. The movies have always felt rushed and awkward, as Rowling's sprawling method of dribbling out clues gets condensed. Not so with this movie. Maybe it just benefits from being split into two. I don't know. But, it works.
Yeah, I know that most people have already read the book, and know what happens. But, some of my audience might not have. And, some of us may have forgotten key plot points. I certainly had.
Rowling starts the book with the gut-punch of Hedwig's death, and the movie follows suit. There is no question at all that this is going to brutal. You pretty quickly find yourself questioning whether anyone can survive, and why anyone would stick close to Harry with all this going on. But, of course, that's what makes them heroes. Big damn heroes, in fact.
One of my favorite things about this movie was that so many characters got such perfect moments. Ginny and Harry's kiss in the kitchen (and George's smirk after). Neville standing up on the train. Draco hesitating to identify Harry. And, of course, Dobby got the best speech ever right at the end.
Holy crap, I had forgotten that Dobby dies. I cried. Seriously. As much as Dobby had irritated me all through the series, I cried at his death scene.
The sequence illustrating the tale of the three brothers was wonderfully done. The jerky, exaggerated animation was a very nice touch to separate it from the rest of the story.
Ending the movie on Voldemort firing the Elder Wand into the sky was a brilliant decision. We are left at just the right point where we feel like all the pieces are in position, and we are ready to begin the endgame.
Jason Isaacs put in another masterful performance as Lucius. The stubble on his chin was great. His twitching and flinching around Voldemort was so visceral. And, finally, his desperate plea to his son to fix everything. Just amazing.
I have to say, without reservation, that this is the best movie in the Harry Potter franchise. Well, to date anyways. I don't know just how good the conclusion will be. But I can't wait to find out.