|neviot (e_witness) wrote,|
@ 2010-11-29 23:16:00
|Entry tags:||harry potter, movie|
Film review: DH1
So I went to see the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last Friday at a newly constructed IMAX theater. My expectations weren’t terribly high, nor were they terribly low. I was expecting something similar to the fourth or sixth movie (because the fifth, unless my memory is seriously failing me, was just flat-out brilliant), something fun and engaging and entertaining for the two and half hours it lasted but not something I’d look back upon and declare a masterpiece. To my surprise, I really liked it.
THE best thing about this film is Snape’s entrance. He literally flies in as a dark, menacing cloud that coalesces with a swoop into a dark-clad wizard striding to a rendezvous with the Death Eaters. I had another euphoric “OMG SNAPE CAN FLY” moment. And the lingering close-up of his fierce, thickly eye-lined glower was pure hedonism for a Snape/Alan Rickman glut like me. My brain shut down with a whimper of, “Hot hot hot.”
The music and photography were wonderful in the construction of this darker world. The heavy, threatening strains in the background kept even the most sleep-deprived friend of mine who I’d expected to nod off during the film completely glued. And the scenery was stunning: gorgeous scenes that belong more on a holiday postcard than the usual children's film. Heck, one sprawling vista atop a cliff of cracked rocks could have come straight out of the LotR films. Half was apparently CGI, but I found this out only afterward.
The public radio announcements of deaths and other (bad) news running in the background during the trio's Long Extended Camping Trip were brilliant. It underscored Ron’s fear and anxiety perfectly, serving as well to further darken the atmosphere.
I have no idea who chose to present the story of the three brothers Peverell in a cartoon segment, but it was a daring choice that I think worked out really well. Reminds me a bit of the Kill Bill sequences when the actors are replaced by their anime counterparts - except much less violent and with a much more fairytale spin on things. The Peverell cartoon was surprisingly riveting (and probably saved the filmmakers the trouble of casting Death XD). It might've been a favorite moment of the movie.
Except that there were several other scenes I adored. Such as the seven Harrys, which was hysterical and very well-acted and, most surprising of all, meticulously close to the book’s version of the scene. Actually, this is a film that’s been very loyal to its source material. Almost every scene is taken straight from the book, and where it isn’t, the portrayal sticks very closely to the spirit of the book’s. At least, from my spotty, three-year-old memory of the book that I didn't get a chance to reread over the summer.
The funniest scene probably belongs to George when, on the morning after he’d lost his ear, he walks nonchalantly into the kitchen in the middle of Harry and Ginny snogging their hearts out. That Harry and Ginny moment seemed slightly awkward, but George's decision to lounge against the kitchen counter and grin at them while they went at it had me sputtering with laughter. But the best part is: the whole time he’s got a toothbrush sticking out his hole-y left ear. XD It’s very George, isn’t it, and I do think that simple detail expresses more about his attitude toward his injury (and their whole awful situation) than even his "weak" joke to Fred about his holey ear does.
The ministry scene was loads of fun. It was intriguing and sometimes pretty funny to watch the three adult actors portray the three protagonists in Polyjuice. And the Godric’s Hollow scene was smartly directed, pounding with danger and tension. The entire theater gasped as one when Nagini made her last terrifying strike; my seat literally rocked from all the people in the row who jerked back in their seats.
The Harry/Hermione moment the locket presented to Ron was decidedly discomfiting. Personally, I found it unnecessary and going a little too far for the sake of realism, but then again, I'm a prude. Or maybe more of a R/Hr shipper than I'd thought.
Emma Watson is impossible to dislike in her role of over-prepared, over-organized, overly brilliant best friend whose strength and common sense carries Harry through his impossible task. She lends Hermione a radiance that erases all questions of her being a little too perfect. I loved the scene where Harry draws her into a spontaneous, silly dance to cheer them both up after Ron’s departure. It was a stroke of genius, all the more brilliant for its unexpectedness, a moment of reprieve amidst the heaviness of the rest of the film.
Dobby was hilarious in every scene he was in. The theater was rife with chuckles and chortles whenever he bobbed his way onto the screen, bowing and pulling at his droopy ears and spouting off “Harry Potter, sir” every other sentence. His death ended the film and left me a little bit destroyed, stifling sobs as the lights came on. Some things you just really can't be prepared for.
Good acting on Tom Felton’s part. Those few shots of his expression spoke volumes. And oh, Jason Isaacs, I have never loved you so much as Lucius. I swear I could taste your fear at the table with the Death Eaters. Helena Bonham Carter was of course her usual magnificent self, thriving in her role as the mad, blood-thirsty Bellatrix. The torture scene with Hermione was – weird as this will sound – tastefully done. Bellatrix’s gleeful viciousness and Hermione’s helpless, hurt sounds merits the film’s PG-13 rating (and is somehow more visceral than a litany of Crucios), but there was nothing over-the-top graphic that would be inappropriate for kids watching the film. (In fact, Bellatrix's method of torture was evidently not all that different from what Umbridge inflicted on Harry as "appropriate punishment" in the fifth book.)
I loved Neville in that single scene he shows up in, when the Death Eaters forcefully stop the Hogwarts Express, and Neville stands up to challenge them and say, “He’s not here, you evil gits.” Or something to that effect. Whoohoo, enter DH!Neville! I’ve been waiting to see you. And Grindelwald, both past and present, was quite a personality for the few seconds he flashed across the screen.
The doe Patronus was dazzling in all its silver, ethereal, diaphanous beauty. Stole my breath away, which was good on a pragmatic level because it kept me from screaming Snape’s name to all and sundry in my giddiness. I can’t wait for his confrontation with McGonagall (I really hope they keep that scene), his let-me-get-Potter scene with Voldemort, and of course “The Prince’s Tale” chapter. Part 2 premiers on July 15, 2011. I haven’t anticipated a film so much since Return of the King.
Seriously, I’ve got little to say about this film that isn’t good. Peter Pettigrew's state of being distinctly Not Dead does make me curious to see how that's going to be tied up in the second part, and I did miss the role of Regulus (and the letter Harry found at Grimmauld Place!), but I don’t remember the events of the book well enough to miss much else. A fellow fan was a little confused that there was no mention of Remus and Tonks’ unborn baby, and she'd wanted a Dumbledore funeral to make up for the lack of one in the last movie.
While probably still not a masterpiece, I found so little wanting and was so impressed by the rest that I’ll definitely be re-watching this one. It makes me proud to be a HP fan. /Long-winded gushing.