For more than a year, Harry Potter fans have been patiently waiting for the second-to-last cinematic installment of the series. Now that it’s here, millions worldwide have piled into theaters since Friday morning and will be throughout the upcoming weeks to join the trio as they seek the remaining horcruxes holding pieces of Lord Voldemort‘s soul.
I was among those who saw “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Friday morning (at midnight). And as a fan who has grown up with the series, overall, I was not disappointed. In fact, I’m ready to see it again!
**NOTE: If you haven’t read the books or seen the movie, I’m going to warn you now that a fair amount of spoilers lay ahead, so proceed with caution!**
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, onward with the review!
Each Potter installment has been getting progressively darker and this one is no exception. The wizarding world is officially at war and it’s spilling over into the muggle world. People are disappearing and dying and distrust runs rampant. Not only is the plot darker, but this film is visually darker to reflect the times. And while I constantly wanted to turn up the dimmer (or is it down? Either way, I wanted to make screen brighter), I felt if things were brighter, it wouldn’t ring true to the movie’s plot.
This film more than any other falls on the shoulders of the trio. They’re of age, out of school and in the real world without adult supervision. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have made vast improvements since the first film and deliver spectacular performances as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Grint and Watson in particular stand out as their roles are now much bigger. And I don’t mean just in terms of screen time. Previously, it’s been mostly about Harry — it is his series — but this film is more about Harry and his relationship with his best friends as well as their relationship with each other.
Ron and Harry have a huge falling out — bigger than their previous one in Goblet of Fire. Grint beautifully portrays Ron’s paranoia about Harry and Hermione’s relationship as well as his doubts and skepticism about Harry’s Voldemort-fighting ability. The newfound animosity between Ron and Harry during the fight before the former takes off is believable because it’s been building organically throughout the film and both actors played their parts convincingly.
I’ve always felt Ron has been portrayed as the good-time friend: always there for a laugh and comic relief. And while there is a lot of this in the books, he does have his kick-ass moments such as in their first adventure with the giant chess set and Devil’s Snare (they gave Hermione the cool-and-collected role in the film when she was really the one to panic in the book). So it was nice to see a more serious side to the character.
But Ron fans fear not! He still has his fun moments such as when Harry tries to persuade Ron to join him on his journey. Ron’s reply: “Without Hermione? We wouldn’t last two days without her…Don’t tell her I said that.”
And speaking of Hermione, I just have to say Watson totally upped her game this film. In the past, Hermione and Ron’s relationship was hinted at until Half-Blood Prince, where it was more directly addressed due to Ron’s relationship with Lavender Brown. In Deathly Hallows, Ron and Hermione’s relationship is brought straight out into the forefront and although the actors have expressed how awkward their characters’ romance is for them, it doesn’t show onscreen (we’ll just have to wait for Part 2 to see The Kiss). Watson plays a perfectly torn up Hermione when she’s forced to choose between leaving with Ron or staying behind to help Harry find the remaining horcruxes. You can really feel her heart breaking. Although, I do wish she attacked Ron more when he finally returned. The book describes her as having lost control and looking “quite demented.” The encounter in the film was quite tame.
Watson also does an amazing job in the scene with her parents. In the books, we don’t hear much of the Grangers but it is mentioned in the final one that Hermione erases their memories to keep them safe. The film version actually shows this scene, which I really liked because it highlights something we as readers and viewers have most likely overlooked: Hermione has rarely seen her parents in the last seven years. She’s at Hogwarts during the school year and is usually with Harry and the Weasley clan in the summer. There is rarely any mention of her own family. Despite this, we do learn in the latest film that they’re not far from her mind. In the cafe scene where she erases a Death Eater’s memory, we see her struggle to keep her composure as she remembers she has just done the same thing to her parents. Also, when Hermione chooses places to apparate, they’re usually locations she has visited with her parents.
The torture scene with Hermione and Bellatrix Lestrange
As for Harry, Radcliffe has developed his character throughout the previous six films and is still going strong. The emotion he displays in the cemetery when he and Hermione visit his parents’ graves in Godric’s Hollow brought tears to my eyes. The film adaptation has the two in their regular appearance as opposed to Polyjuice Potioned into other people. Harry says this is the village where his parents died and he was not going to hide. I really liked this change because it shows how he won’t allow Voldemort affect the things he holds sacred.
Another Harry moment I enjoyed was after Ron leaves. Harry is outside their tent and hears the radio playing music. Hermione, understandably devastated and in tears, is just sitting there, not really listening. Harry comes inside and asks her to dance. Initially the scene, which is not in the book, is incredibly awkward to watch. But eventually, it becomes sweet as it’s clear Harry is just trying cheer Hermione up — and hilarious with their interesting dance moves. Some people say this is a romantic scene between the two, but I saw it as two friends just goofing around and having fun. I could easily see my BFFs doing the same thing for each other if any of us were upset.
Despite all the doom and gloom, the film does have its lighthearted moments for balance. One of my favorite scenes is when various members of the Order take Polyjuice to change into Harry. Once they change, they’re still in their own clothing. This makes for a particularly amusing scene as some of the Harry doppelgangers are female and becomes even funnier as they all change into the same outfits. Seeing a shy and uber pale Radcliffe in a bra was nothing short of hilarious.
Other uplifting moments come from the trio just being teenagers. With so much happening and how much they have to deal with, it’s easy to forget they’re still only 17. Right after Ron tells the story of how he returned to Harry and Hermione, he asks Harry how long Harry thinks Hermione will stay mad at him. Harry tells Ron to keep talking about the little ball of light floating into his heart and I could just see Ron attempting to work it into conversation. Later on, Harry asks Hermione the same question and she replies, “I’m always mad at him.” This is such a teenage girl thing to say, I’m pretty sure I’ve probably said something similar as well.
One scene that surprised me was when the locket horcrux tortures Ron. Now known as the Infamous Make-Out scene, the moment when Riddle-Harry and Riddle-Hermione begin kissing completely threw me for a loop. The two are not only pretty much going at it, they’re also basically topless. The moment I realized this, I just thought, “What about the kids in the theater?” This scene definitely made me realize that these characters were not kids anymore. And although many would say it went a little far, I have to say it’s pretty realistic for a 17-year-old boy to have these kinds of thoughts.
I could (literally) go on about every little detail in the film and compare it to the book, stating what I liked or did not like, but this is already getting ridiculously long, so I’m going to call it a day. So, I hope you enjoyed my review and hope you enjoy Deathly Hallows Part 1. I can’t wait till Part 2!