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"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I"
In this prelude to the final chapter adapted from a most extraordinary series of books, we find the magical trio at the center of it older and stronger. Harry, Hermione and Ron are approaching adulthood, and more dependent on one another as they face greater dangers independently from Hogwarts. One might well breathe a sigh of relief that Harry and his posse have lasted this long what with the rising power of evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and the variety of beasts and followers he unleashes on them. Harry, the only person who can kill him, seeks to deny his enemy the ultimate power he needs to become immortal.
To the drama of this peril a second force compels our interest as adolescent hormones create new social dynamics among our three valiant magicians. Though still a tight group, the trio has clearly advanced beyond the pure buddy stages of childhood. The impression this makes on the maturity of the series as a final showdown nears is a dynamic and dimensional gain, well meted out by the creator of the series that began in 1997, J.K. Rowling, and studiously preserved in the movie by screenwriter-adapter Steve Cloves ("The Fabulous Baker Boys") and by director David Yates.
Harry's journey now follows what he has learned from his mentor, Hogwarts' headmaster Albus Dumledore (Michael Gambon) and his many adventures there, but most of all that Voldemort has cheated death on more than one occasion by his use of magical Horcruxes, small containers holding fragments of his soul that regenerate him from death and will bring him the immortality he strives for. This must, of course, never be. The key to prevent it is finding the remaining Horcruxes before he or his Death Eaters or followers do.
Harry, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), now dealing with matters of trust and disappointment among themselves, hide away from their families which are threatened. As they figure out where to look for one of the Horcruxes, a tiff between Ron and Hermione reveals their feelings for each other. Harry is cool with this since he's involved with Ron's sister, Ginny but the strong bond between the three has become closer and more interdependent.
And, so, now exiled from the protective and perilous at Hogwarts, and the magical characters that stitched so much magic into the realism there, the task before them is a matter of survival. They are fighting for their lives.
The idea of romance developing among them has always been a source of interest and difficulty. Though the first signs of was raised in book six, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," it is here out in the open as Ron's failure to return to the fold makes it an emotional matter to Hermione. It's a knotty situation, bound to disappoint that part of the audience who foresaw a different direction for the romantic alliance to go in.
Clearly, Hermione as portrayed by a very pretty Watson, is the catch of catches. It's probably a good thing to avoid obvious expectation and have her not get involved with Harry. On the other hand, the lumbering, low-key but good-natured Grint isn't exactly our idea of a romantic preference, and the choice for some fans may be less than satisfying. Perhaps we should all just ignore this element. Problem is, it's there in front of you and a cause to cheer or moan over.
(Please feel free to express your thoughts on this aspect of the series [or any other aspect of it] in the opinion section below. We'll see what the consensus of Muggles is on this issue.)
I don't know if Steve Cloves ("The Fabulous Baker Boys"), the screenwriter who adapts the books for the films, has an easier time hewing as closely as he can to the content of the books without taking liberties, or if it would be an easier task to be less stringent with a little cutting and telescoping. Because someone, early on, made the decision that pleasing the fans as much as possible was where the money is, every installment is rife with details and plotlines stepping over each other and making you wish you had a wand of simplicity to help out (or a Harry Potter maven whispering in your ear). In any case, this first part of the finale is, perhaps, the least convoluted compared to what has gone on before.
Looking back, when the trio were more innocent travelers in the world of magic and destiny, their still-developing personalities and uncomplicated thoughts required for interest colorful, ofttime kooky elders and other creatures to maintain the attentions of young and old alike. With the evolution to the individuality they'll have as full-fledged adults appearing before our eyes in this segment they, and the impulses they're beginning to show, makes for a higher level of interest without dependence on diversity. The new emotional issues of these friends, then, injects much needed depth into the equation of Harry Potter stories, and it's a welcome, if not intriguing development. The journey is no longer just a thriller about Harry's survival againt Voldemort nor just a colorful, action-packed thesis on good vs. evil.
Figuring in to this installment in a major or minor way are Helena Bonham Carter as the evil-relishing Bellatrix Lestrange who lives to express her faith in her dark Lord, Voldemort. Bill Nighy appears as the new character, Rufus Scrimgeour, in a deliciously delivered role as the Minister of Magic and Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody returns with his brand of excitation. for Voldemort. Ralph Fiennes has his big job down pat as he closes in for the kill as the terrible titan of evil, Lord V.
Director David Yates dives into this once more for the beginning of the end chapter without much regard for screentime, but we fans have come to expect lenghthiness.
Bringing characters from the earlier films back for the two-part finale is a nice idea, even if it tastes of the gratuitous and anti-climactic. But, despite a little carp about something here and there, it's an astounding series, so well served by triumphs of technology in CGI, painterly visuals and the inspiration of amazing books as guides to do so much with.
~~ Jules BrennerLinks to reviews of prior episodes:
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"