Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: David Yates
Running Time: 146 mins
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a British film and the seventh in the Harry Potter series. As the Ministry of Magic begins to impose strict rule on the wizarding world, Harry, Ron and Hermione are forced to flee in order to find and destroy the Horcruxes, Voldemort’s key to ultimate power, during which time they learn of the story of the most powerful magical weapons of all time: The Deathly Hallows.
Over the course of this series, I’ve been up and down as to where the sweet spot really lies. However, just as it’s all coming to a close, The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 delivers one of the best Harry Potter movies of all. Although suffering from the decision to split one book into two, this is an enthralling movie, which brilliantly shows the high stakes and drama in every part of the story, and provides some of the most exciting storytelling of the entire saga.
If there is a sweet spot for this series away from The Philosopher’s Stone‘s more upbeat atmosphere, then it has to be what David Yates delivers here. JK Rowling’s story has hit yet more new heights with regards to dramatic intrigue, and screenwriter Steve Kloves and director David Yates do an incredible job to make that even more engrossing on screen.
All the biggest issues that I’ve had with previous films, from excessively dark visuals and atmosphere, to romance, are now completely gone, simply because they feel so natural within the context of this story. This isn’t a moody young adult flick, instead it’s a dramatic and important edition of a massive story arc, and that’s something that comes through in all manner of ways, from the directing to the writing, and the performances to the music.
For the most part, there’s something happening wherever you look in The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. From an explosive and hugely entertaining first act to a genuinely unnerving and atmospheric finale, when this film is really rolling, it’s a massively engrossing and even exciting blockbuster experience. It may still lack the emotional drama that makes so many other films greats, but the fact of the matter here is that it’s full of ideas, and when they’re being delivered on screen, you’ll be thoroughly captivated.
I say that because there is one big issue with this film that means it’s not always so enthralling. Whilst the opening and final acts are brilliant, there’s a very lengthy middle portion here where almost nothing happens. In a sense, there’s a degree of building tension both within the leading trio’s relationship, and the impending threat of the antagonists, but for the most part, we watch Harry, Ron and Hermione sitting in a tent in the forest.
And that’s not an over-simplification, because that really is all that seems to happen, and, given that it lasts for the best part of an hour, it’s a huge disruption to the otherwise enthralling story building towards a thrilling climax.
It’s an unfortunate symptom of the studio decision to split the final book into two parts (although as far as that goes, this is one of the better adaptations), and quite a boring period to sit through, but given that so much of the rest of this film is exciting, dramatic and enthralling, and has got me genuinely excited and intrigued as to how the series will finish next time out, I’m going to give The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 a 7.6.