Saturday, November 20, 2010
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Movie - Part 1: "Waiting for Stuff to Happen"
Now, I am one of those Harry Potter fans who enjoyed the books immensely and has always been disappointed by the films. The world waited so many years for a Lord of The Rings movie adaptation, and what we got was a high quality, true to the story and essence of Tolkien cinematic masterpiece. Hollywood saw Harry Potter, said, "I could make a lot of money off of that wizard chap" and busted out film after film before the author had even completed the written series. There were no delusions that these films were going to be brilliant. However, they haven't completely crushed the soul out of the series, and have actually seemed to get increasingly better with each film adaptation. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is probably the best so far, as the actors that play our main three characters have finally mastered that elusive thing called 'acting', and the screenwriters seemed to have hit a stride. There is also some thoughtful cinematography and bangin' special effects.
However, as a friend who saw the film with me said, "What the hell is going on?"
He had never read the books. If I had gone into this movie having never read most of the Harry Potter series, I would have felt overwhelmed by the number of characters who show up and then promptly leave, the names that are dropped, and the exposition that is not being related to the audience AT ALL. Basically, this is a film for people who have read the books, and not a film that stands alone. But the lack of exposition and back story are not the only things that make this a movie that can't stand alone - it's the fact that very little happens in the movie, and this 'very little' becomes practically nothing in comparison to what's coming in Part 2: Stuff Happens!
That's because in this film, which is, I suppose, the first half of the book, roughly, Harry doesn't know what to do. Once Harry, Ron and Hermione go off on their own, there were literally two hundred or so pages in the novel where they were in the woods. Just in the woods. Listening to the radio, brooding, occasionally arguing, and oh yeah, they were still in the woods. At one point they go off and find a Horcux, and that's very exciting. But after they escape back to THE WOODS - they don't know what to do again, and there is a lot more brooding, as the Horcrux has some kind of menstrual cycle effect on them and they get all moody and irritated. It's like a Horcrux of P.M.S, and they all get it in turns, for another hundred pages of the book. And for some reason THIS is the part of the film that they decide to adapt pretty accurately.
Ironically, it's also the part of the film within which the actors shine most brightly. Emma Watson, playing Hermione Granger, does very well at being brave in the face of the sense of hopelessness that the group begins to feel. Her chemistry with Ron is clear, and the two actors play off of each other excellently. Rupert Grint, who plays Ron, has a wonderful scene where he must face his fears and jealousy regarding Harrry and Hermione's relationship, and I think he does a great job. He also does a great job at being generally adorable, and a kind of 'Sam' to Harry's 'Frodo'. Daniel Radcliffe, playing Harry Potter, is kind of the same actor he's always been, which is the kind that reminds me of Mark Hamill playing Luke Skywalker. Which is to say, he's okay.
Now, don't get me wrong, there is a lot in this film that is fun, and funny, and exciting, and heartbreaking. (Dobby! *sniffle*) However, all of this is only the case if you have already read the series, and are expecting certain things to happen. If not, you will be immensely confused, and probably a little bit angry. I first and foremost reccomend that if you haven't read Harry Potter, you go out there and read it, because it's a very good story, quite original, and it should be something that everyone interested in fantasy eventually gets around to reading. For Harry Potter fans, this movie is pretty awesome, and really sets the audience up for what it is surely to be a heck of a movie for Part 2. There is so much that we know is going to happen - the next movie is essentially going to be the opposite of this one. This movie is all tone and set-up and emotions and frustration - the next movie is going to be all action. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of it all - and the day twenty years from now when someone decides to re-make the entire series and do it right. Until then, these movies are a fun way to realise the wizarding world, and really all in good fun.