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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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2 stars

The Harry Potter franchise, film by film, usually leaves me momentarily satisfied. The films - while never truly resonating with me - usually don’t disappoint with a narrative that simply refuses to fulfill its own imagination. They also don’t bore with an inexhaustible amount of filler. Usually. There’s always a first time, though, and that’s exactly what occurs in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part One). Darker than the rest but not stronger, the setup to the franchise finale barely warms up to its audience as it is mostly filler with very little fire.

Director David Yates has set the bar incredibly high for the finale of this esteemed series with the glossy flash-and-bang paced quickness of his last two Potter outings.  Unfortunately, that energy and dramatic tension that he brought to the series is grossly missing for the clunky and overstretched middle of his latest entry. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part One), while once again looking really pretty in the special effects department, is literally nothing but a narrative about an overextended camping trip that – unnecessarily split into two separate parts – can’t satisfy in the very basics of story department.  It’s a shame that this film is needless exposition.  It really is because all of its weaknesses could have been avoided by keeping its narrative as excitingly concise as the last two films.

The story starts out interestingly enough; the action is quick and tight as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) are whisked out of harm’s way and hide as Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) uses his dark “muscle” to collapse the once magical world we’ve grown to love over the years.  There are a few flashes of CGI aerial action, a few moments of great tension as they infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, and even a few familiar faces return, yet, when they settle into Hermione’s magical tent, the film quickly loses all sense of dramatic purpose and sucks down all the filler fumes the Potter fans have been huffing all these years.  As a result, the film simply runs out of steam for a good hour and a half and forgets that it is supposed to be building toward something climactic.

Yeah, those fans out there begging for a more complete Potter film get their wish in this two-part money grab from Warner Bros.  And you know what?  The film suffers as a result.  Every single problem with this film could be solved if it were simply ONE film.  One film, folks, not two.  The first part of this fractured tale becomes – after its first forty minutes - tedious and, well, simply dull in its bloated execution with no resolution to any of the issues presented.  Enemies are quickly wiped out.  Friends are killed or simply go missing without explanation.  While this might have happened in the book, well, a movie is a movie and we need to see these things happen.  When the end of the film finally arrives, it announces itself in such an obviously “dramatic” military drumroll but there really are no surprises left.  There’s no gasp from the crowd; no crying out that the filmmakers can’t end the movie there.  No, you simply are let the hell down.  Completely.

If there are but three saving graces to this film, it is with Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as Bellatrix Lastrange as she does crazy supremely well.  She should be heralded as a goddess for her fascinating performance in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part One) as she, along with Dobby the house elf (voiced again by Toby Jones), are the only ones bringing any amount of energy to the acting component of the film.  The third aspect that is really strong is the magical fairy tale that comes to life through some interesting animation.  Now, THAT story I could watch for hours on end and not get bored.  It is dark, tightly scripted, and surreal.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part One) is dark.  Really dark.  It isn’t for kids either; this is for the older crowd as it is pretty graphic with its bone-exposed violence and overt sexuality.  While I am sure this will please some fans, the near-nude Harry and Hermione scene is completely out of place in this picture and it is glaringly obvious.  Yates is great with the gothic horror, but sometimes his visualizing gets a tad out-of-hand and this scene – as well as another where Potter zips up a bare-backed and braless Ginny - is one of those occurrences.

The action scenes – specifically the shaky-cam forest chase – are surprisingly an untidy mess throughout the film as very little is established with the lens and the action is equally unfocused.  Regardless, if this film existed without the “surprise” chase scene through the forest, I simply wouldn’t want to see it.  The film needs the forced action of that scene in order to keep the focus of those less amused by the big void that is its story.

There is little humor to Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part One) and even less charm.  The cast is older and wiser, yet – as they escape down the English country side, hopping from one campsite to another – only get on each other’s nerves during the course of this fractured narrative. There’s an awkward scene of dancing between Harry and Hermione, but other than that, all pleasantries – like the magic of this series - are gone.  Gone, too, is the brilliant theme music written by John Williams that chugged its way through the previous films. Not once do we get the familiar theme.

It doesn’t matter what I write, the film will make a ton of money. Let’s be honest, though, the film never needed to be split in two; it needed to be edited to one three-hour movie. I can't imagine sitting through another 146 minutes of Potter just to see Evil destroyed by a magic wand battle. There’s no sense in creating two movies with needless filler and false staging (the Potter and Ginny kiss) when the first one can’t in itself satisfy as a setup to the ultimate showdown between Good and Evil. Go ahead and berate me for giving a Potter film less than three marks. This one deserves it. Trust me, it doesn’t even satisfy in some basic elements of story construction.

Even as a “bridge” film, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part One) disappoints its audience as it simply leads to nowhere….really slowly.

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{2jtab: Film Details}

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsMPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality.
Director: David Yates
Writer
: Steve Kloves
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe; Emma Watson; Rupert Grint
Genre: Sci-fi | Action | Fantasy
Tagline: It all ends here.
Official Site:
harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthedeathlyhallows/mainsite/index.html
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Memorable Movie Quote:
"Harry Potter... The boy who lived... Come to die... Avada Kedavra!"
Release Date: November 19, 2010
Blu-ray Release Date:
April 12, 2011.

Synopsis: Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort's immortality and destruction -- the Horcruxes. On their own, without the guidance of their professors or the protection of Professor Dumbledore, the three friends must now rely on one another more than ever. But there are Dark Forces in their midst that threaten to tear them apart. Meanwhile, the wizarding world has become a dangerous place for all enemies of the Dark Lord. The long-feared war has begun and Voldemort's Death Eaters seize control of the Ministry of Magic and even Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting anyone who might oppose them. But the one prize they still seek is the one most valuable to Voldemort: Harry Potter.

The Chosen One has become the hunted one as the Death Eaters search for Harry with orders to bring him to Voldemort...alive. Harry's only hope is to find the Horcruxes before Voldemort finds him. But as he searches for clues, he uncovers an old and almost forgotten tale -- the legend of the Deathly Hallows. And if the legend turns out to be true, it could give Voldemort the ultimate power he seeks. Little does Harry know that his future has already been decided by his past when, on that fateful day, he became "the Boy Who Lived." No longer just a boy, Harry Potter is drawing ever closer to the task for which he has been preparing since the day he first stepped into Hogwarts: the ultimate battle with Voldemort.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 12, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (2 BDs, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Maximum Movie Mode (Disc 1, HD, 168 minutes)
  • Focus Point Featurettes (Disc 1, HD, 19 minutes)
  • Behind the Story Featurettes (Disc 2, HD, 32 minutes)
  • Additional Scenes (Disc 2, HD, 11 minutes)
  • Exclusive Deathly Hallows Part 2 Sneak Peek (Disc 2, HD)
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Grand Opening (Disc 2, HD, 6 minutes)
  • Behind the Soundtrack (Disc 2, HD, 4 minutes)
  • BD-Live Functionality

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