Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Directed by: David Yates (“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”)
Written by: Steve Kloves (“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”)
Don’t anticipate some sort of shocking cliffhanger at the end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” the first half of the final chapter of the imaginative franchise that started back in 2001. It’s almost as if director David Yates (his third “Potter” film) and screenwriter Steve Kloves (who has adapted all but one of J.K. Rowling’s “Potter” books) found a reasonable stopping point, hit the pause button, and asked us to come back in eight months.
It wasn’t a bad decision to split “Deathly Hallows” into two parts other than the fact that “Potter” fans will be climbing the walls until next July when Part 2 hits theaters. Although “Deathly Hallows” is much less action-driven than its predecessors, it’s evident the material from the original book was much too extensive to try to squeeze into a single feature. To do the final book justice (and to wrap up the nine-year adventure the right way), “Deathly Hallows” needed extra time to manifest.
In “Deathly Hallows,” Yates and Kloves understand exactly where our heroes are at this point in their lives, not only based on Rowling’s narrative, but also on a deeper, more emotional level. It’s the most mature film of the series and also the best since Alfonso Cuarón’s “Prisoner of Azkaban.”
Playing like an epic version of hide-and-seek, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) are far from the comfortable confines of Hogwarts, which has been taken over by the Death Eaters. Now, on a journey to find the last remaining Horcruxes (if you don’t know what those are by now hurry and catch up), the trio evades the even-more-terrifying Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and spends most of their time trying to understand clues left behind by the now-deceased Dumbledore. How else will Harry get revenge for the murder of his parents during his inevitable final battle with the dark lord? These clues include the “Deathly Hallows,” three powerful objects that Harry may need to defeat Voldemort, who is becoming more powerful by the second. The eerie animation built-in with the mythology of these objects is impressively artistic.
Knowing the franchise is almost complete makes “Deathly Hallows” all the more serious as we inch closer and closer to the finale. While there are less spells cast and typical Harry Potter moments from earlier films, fans can find satisfaction in the darker elements and conflict between our heroes. We’ve invested in Harry, Hermione, and Ron for nine years. Now it’s time to reap those benefits. Sure, it’s might be impossible to get the full effect of what this film will be until the story is complete, but “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” is an impressive start to what we hope will lead to a memorable showdown.