Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

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If you haven’t heard about Harry Potter by now, don’t bother reading this article, and just crawl back under the rock you came from. The epic tale of Harry Potter really has two lives, the books and the films. Many can argue how they differ and which is better, but no one can deny the massive fan base for “The Boy Who Lived”.

Surely the trailer for Deathly Hallows best described the Harry Potter series calling it “a worldwide phenomenon”. What started as a simple children’s book in the UK, is now a 7 book series that has been translated into 67 different languages. With the books being so popular for fans of all ages, it was only natural for them to be made into films, which became a phenomenon in themselves. A wizarding world even awaits fans at Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, a sort of Mecca for Potter fans now. There’s Legos, video games, and even Lego video games of the Potter series. Muggle Quidditch has taken over college campuses, bands are modeling themselves after the boy wizard; I could go on and on. Even though the series is complete, and the movies are coming to a close, the magic is far from over.

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The beginning of the end is here, as far as the films go. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: part 1 has recently been released on DVD and Blu-ray. When I first heard news that the last novel was going to be separated into two movies I was skeptical. Yet after looking back at the book and realizing how much happens, it surely needed to be split if they wanted to do it right. The film opens with the new minister of magic addressing the wizarding world of the dark times upon them. The new minster, played by Bill Nighy, sets the atmosphere for the entire film. Deathly Hallow continues the menacing taste left from the last movie. There is no blissful ride to Hogwarts in this story.

Voldemort and his death-eaters have their dark hearts set on capturing Harry. The war between the good and evil is in full swing. Those closest to Harry do their best to protect him as they had before, but it’s only a matter of time before he, Ron and Hermione are on their own. Nowhere is safe for the trio after Harry is made public enemy number one by the newly infiltrated ministry. While on the run the three continue Dumbledore’s wish to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes. While the young wizards search for these items the dark lord also searches for something; the elder wand, one of the deathly hallows. The Hallows are three magical items created by death himself and those who possess all three will be the master of death. It will be the Hallows and the Horcruxes that will setup, and play a part in, the final battle between Harry and Voldemort.

With all the pieces in places for this latest film: A great story, a well seasoned cast, and six great films behind it; I only wonder how it went so wrong?

For how quickly this films runs through scenes, it amazing how slow it all feels. The filmmakers spent a lot of time emphasizing on strange and at sometimes pointless scenes (i.e. Harry and Hermione’s dance) and later rushing through some really important events. I hate to compare movies to their books but I feel that if I hadn’t read Deathly Hallows I would be lost. Countless aerial shots of the trio walking through the countryside hardly tell a story.

Ironically what the film really lacks is Magic. Now I don’t mean that it lacks actual magic, like spells and curses and stuff, but rather the magic that made fans fall in love with the Harry Potter series. This film feels as if it’s trying to be this massively epic, all or nothing movie, when it should just be the end of a great story. Director David Yates has forgotten that the fans of series adore the wizarding world that Rowling created and not elaborate battles and overly dramatic characters he present in this film.

When compared to the rest of the Happy Potter films, Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows sadly falls short, but luckily the film doesn’t have to stand on its own merit. This July, the second part and the final Harry Potter film will in theaters. Those who follow the books know what excitement lies in store, like the break-in at Gringotts and the battle of Hogwarts. I’m not implying the first half lacks excitement, but so much happens in Part 1 that the filmmakers weren’t really able to give certain scenes proper focus.

You would think that this wouldn’t be a problem for story spit in two but the movies didn’t divide the novel exactly in half. Deathly Hallows Part 1 encompasses nearly two-thirds of the book into one movie, which resulted in the awkward pacing. With less to cover in Part 2, filmmakers will be able to take their time with the story and hopefully give the end every minute it deserves.

The real promise for Part 2 is the last 20 minutes of Part 1. If the second film can pick up from where the tearfully moving scene left off, fans will really have something to look forward to. In the end I know fans will be just as content with the films as they were with the books. While last book concluded an epic tale, the last film will be no less important for the wizarding world.