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3 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
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by Erik Childress

"Harry Potter and the Apocalypse Now"
4 stars

The end for Harry Potter came years ago for fans with the publication of J.K. Rowling's final chapter. At the time, movie fans were just catching up on the fifth of the series, the Order of the Phoenix, released into theaters just a few weeks earlier. I had slowly become one of those fans, feeling that the Hardy Boys nature of the initial three books were now growing along with their characters into a more worthwhile epic coming-of-age fantasy. So on board was I after the fifth film that I could not wait any longer and anxiously dug into the final two books discovering that Rowling had indeed delivered. It led to the best film in the series to date, The Half-Blood Prince, and under the continued direction of David Yates, a promise that the final film would be a wow-laced payoff amongst franchises. Yates has taken things a step further though. In a move that may surprise even those who read the Deathly Hallows multiple times, he creates a grim landscape for our heroes that accentuates the build-up to their final battle. So grim, in fact, that you may feel as if Harry, Ron and Hermione are the last survivors of an apocalyptic aftermath and Part II may be all the better for it.

From the very beginning the tone is set for this picture with Hermione (Emma Watson) erasing the memory of herself from her parents' minds; the suggestion that her potential death will be far more painful for them than to have never had a daughter at all. Along with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint), the trio are joined by some of their closest allies in an attempt to get "the chosen one" out of dodge before Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters can find him. This leads to a daring escape with casualties that has Harry more eager than ever to complete the mission of his mentor, Albus Dumbledore, in finding the missing Horcruxes, the parts of their nemesis' soul that has allowed him to escape death over the years.

If the mystery of their whereabouts is not enough, Voldemort has also successfully overtaken the Ministry of Magic who have named Harry their most desirable - or private enemy number one. After another attack at a Weasley family wedding, the three friends jump through time and space from close calls to infiltrations to outright isolation in remaining undetected as the last hope to put things right in the wizarding world. Being over their head, tensions begin to rise amongst friends; aided in part by the one Horcrux to rule them all that they have found and take turns wearing around their neck. Their search also brings them around to the story of the Deathly Hallows which feature another trio of objects when possessed can give their owner unlimited power.

This Harry Potter film more than any other is entirely dependent on mood. Establishing it, reminding you of it and eventually putting you in it. The up-against-it despair thrust about these characters while they are on the run ever-so-bleakly gives us a view of a world spun on its ear while keeping most of the villainous treachery resigned to radio broadcasts, newspaper clippings and our thoughts of the worst. For a film that was once planned to be converted into 3-D, this is what leaps off the screen to great effect. The middle section of the film is so rife with dead forests and a sense of less-than-lukewarm weather that it may take you a moment to remember some of the set pieces and side trips that populate their journey or even a lovely moment between Harry and Hermione for some brief levity from their situation.

Harry Potter and the Apocalypse Now notwithstanding, it would be unfair to criticize such an apparent change in atmosphere when the series has been leading up to this moment all along. Aside from children who may be getting a lucky dose of marathon Potter viewings while the rest of us had to wait years, the kids who started with Sorcerer's Stone grew up along Harry, Ron and Hermione. Many of them have gone through the awkwardness of a new school, been bullied or became teacher's pet, gone through puberty and their first crushes. Now they are on the verge of adulthood facing the terror of a world that was never as rosy and structured as they were meant to believe and how the people in power are frequent abusers with an agenda contrary to the greater good. The last three stories have featured one major, shocking death; over time just like life we lose the people closest to us. And now that the metaphorical end is near, the body count is going to rise.

Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves sticks to Rowling's vision and never sugarcoat the rough edges. Though I wish one character would have received the dignity of an on-screen death, readers can expect those same characters not to make it out of the movie as well. At times there is a Fellowship of the Ring vibe to the Deathly Hallows. Though instead of walking for days, our heroes pretty much sit around in a tent. But Yates and Kloves know just when to switch gears with humor, suspense and a particularly inspired visualization of the Deathly Hallows story; a shadow-puppet-like bit of animation that is as enthralling as any of the action sequences.

As one of those readers, I may have prematurely exemplified expectations into describing what's to come from the final story is no less than "action-packed." That may be jumping the gun a bit as most of the battles are clearly planned for the "war-like" Part II. The first part does not have as natural an ending as its Empire Strikes Back-like predecessor, The Half-Blood Prince, and should have warranted a "to be continued" (or "concluded") before the credits arise on the exact moment you figure the films to be split while reading the book. It is not a moment of hope, only further despair, especially in the wake of another loss for the good guys. But sometimes the calm before the storm is not a calm at all. And it is only going to make the storm all the more greater.

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originally posted: 11/18/10 01:59:35
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User Comments

2/19/15 hhshjjsjj this movie for GAY 1 stars
2/15/15 enicmatic al do you know what is the shit? 1 stars
1/18/15 monica jackson help me from this shit! 1 stars
1/08/15 kl shit will be shit 1 stars
1/07/15 vanessa most boring movie and just shit! 1 stars
7/12/12 Aimee Fontenot I thought this installment was pretty good, but not as good as the first. 4 stars
6/10/12 Gob quite boring for adults 2 stars
7/16/11 Daniel Kelly Best of the franchise. Hands down. 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles I can't believe it's almost over 5 stars
1/09/11 David A. WHat happened in the movie? I don't because I fell asleep! 1 stars
12/13/10 tooktheredpill everyone likes it? don't watch it at night. Even my wife hated it 2 stars
12/01/10 Smitty The movie wasn't the best, but the animated story of the three brothers was worth the price 4 stars
11/24/10 millersxing Part 1 puts our intrepid trio through so much trauma they'll need wizard therapy to recover 4 stars
11/24/10 Rob steffenino Very worthy film 4 stars
11/20/10 Mishyana SO insanely well done. The animated 'Three Brothers' sequence is stunning. 5 stars
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  19-Nov-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Apr-2011


  DVD: 12-Apr-2011

Directed by
  David Yates

Written by
  Steve Kloves

  Daniel Radcliffe
  Rupert Grint
  Emma Watson
  Bill Nighy
  Tom Felton

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