Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
“These are dark times,” remarks a character in this seventh instalment of the lucrative Harry Potter franchise. Indeed, it’s time for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his best friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) to put away childish things as they are thrust into a more adult world away from the comforts and safety of Hogwarts.
This is a more harrowing and dangerous journey for Harry and also a fairly downbeat one. David Yates, who has directed the two previous Potter films, is familiar with the tone and brings an increasingly grim mood to the series as it approaches its apocalyptic climax. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is more of a character-driven piece.
This 146 minute film rushes through the first 400 odd pages of J K Rowling’s tome, and wastes a lot of screen time in setting the scene for the final clash between Harry and his nemesis. This will prove a little frustrating for those who want to cut to the chase. Those who have faithfully followed the Potter saga from the beginning will be effortlessly drawn back into this world of wizardry and dark magic. Newcomers will struggle to follow many of the plot points or identify the many characters, as the film doesn’t waste a lot of time on plot exposition.
Steve Kloves (scripting his sixth Potter film) remains reasonably faithful to Rowling’s source novel without being slavishly loyal (this was a failing of the earlier films, which crammed in virtually everything from the books). There is also much more emotional investment in the characters here as they face danger and real peril. Their relationship and friendship is characterised by a more overt sexuality and a hint of jealousy.
Hermione is front and centre for much of this film, and Watson is allowed an opportunity to show how much she has grown in stature and matured over the course of the series. Her performance is certainly much more grounded and credible than that of Radcliffe, who still struggles to be convincing. Grint also continues to impress and grow with a far more revealing and emotionally demanding performance here. But over the years the three young stars have obviously developed a real rapport that shines through on the screen and adds to their relationship.
And as usual a veritable who’s who of British talent has been drawn in to play even smaller roles, many of which are little more than glorified cameos. The Potter big name regulars are given little to do here. The stellar cast also includes Bill Nighy, Timothy Spall, Jason Isaacs, Rhys Ifans, John Hurt, Helen McCrory, Imelda Staunton and Peter Mullan.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows again contains a few quite spectacular set pieces, and the visual effects are again very well done. Eduardo Serra’s striking cinematography captures the often stark locations and suffuses the material with a suitably gloomy pallor.