'Deathly Hallows' solid precursor to 'Potter' finale
<p>In this publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Robbie Coltrane, left, and Daniel Radcliffe are shown in a scene from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1."</p>
| November 26, 2010 8:00 PM
Count me as one of the "Harry Potter" fans firmly against splitting the final book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" into two movies. There are seven books, so there should be seven movies. Period.
Sure, important details can be lost when translating a plot-heavy book to the big screen. But movies are a completely different medium and shouldn't be expected to translate every word to the screen. Nobody wants to sit in the theater for seven hours anyway.
There are legions of Potter fans who must be happy to see "Deathly Hallows" split to include more details from the final book. But at the end of the day, when you buy a ticket to "Deathly Hallows Part 1," no matter the quality, you're only seeing half of a larger, better story.
Now the good news. "Deathly Hallows Part 1" delivers quite a few big thrills and powerful movie moments. More importantly, the young cast led by Daniel Radcliffe give their best performances of the franchise.
As directed by David Yates, who also helmed the last two "Potter" films, "Deathly Hallows" successfully makes the tricky shift into a darker tone and story structure. Harry and the gang never make it to Hogwarts. They don't have classes, bullies or school dances to distract from the growing influence of evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Death is literally around every corner, and a couple beloved characters don't even survive the first 15 minutes.
At its core, "Deathly Hallows 1" is a bleak road movie, focusing on Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione's (Emma Watson) search for Horcruxes (bits of Voldemort's soul trapped in ordinary objects that can't be destroyed without... oh like I need to explain it to you).
As they did in the book, some of the Harry-Ron-Hermione camp-out scenes grow tiresome, but Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves do an admirable job of consolidating the range of emotional turmoil between the three friends. Some of the film's best moments are the quietest scenes, notably Harry's visit to his parents' grave on Christmas Eve.
These scenes work because of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson - actors who have shown remarkable growth throughout the franchise. As good as they've always been, nobody watching the first couple "Potter" films could have anticipated such mature screen presence.
The ending of "Deathly Hallows 1" proves to be the most troublesome. After a key death scene, the movie has no way of ending in any satisfactory way. And so, it just ends. Part 2 lingers on the horizon, but the anticipation hasn't been accelerated.
Why not have a four-hour epic with a 15-minute intermission? Trim down the camp-out scenes, give everybody a potty break and keep the action rolling to the final battle.
Alas, there's more money to be made with two parts and two ticket prices. "Deathly Hallows" is as solid as the rest of the "Potter" films, but "Part 2" can't come soon enough.
Ticket Stubs is sponsored by the Hayden Cinema 6 Theater. Tyler Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more film reviews and pop culture commentary at www.NormdogEntertainment.com.