Wednesday, November 17, 2010

HP & The Deathly Hallows P.1

Usually, when I go into a movie house to watch a film adaptation of a novel I've already read, I expect to leave feeling a little shortchanged. Fortunately, this is not the case with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, the penultimate film in a series of books and films beloved by many.

David Yates, the director who helmed the 2nd half of 8 films in the Harry Potter world, must be applauded for his visual masterpiece. While we have yet to see the final installment in this magical saga, it is safe to assume, from what we've seen in Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows, that he, along with the scriptwriters, have stuck as close to the novels as possible. It is not often that directors and scriptwriters abstain from making "creative" changes to the film version of book adaptations. While minor changes have been made, even a book purist such as I must admit that while it may not necessarily be for the better, it was not for the worst as well.

Daniel Radcliffe started out as the weakest actor amongst the famous trio, but he certainly did not finish that way. What might have been brought by years of training and experience have shaped him into a believable Harry Potter - one we root for and want to stand behind. His portrayal of Harry as a bestfriend and would-be-hero was inspiring, to say the least. My favorite scene of Daniel Radcliffe has to be the 7 Potters. He seemed to adapt the little idiosyncrasies that make it easy to tell whom he is supposed to be. From the twins' comfortable and laughing manner, to Fleur's shallow one, to Mundungus's reluctance at participating, and Hermione's forthright manner, he has given us something to laugh at before we cry at the tragedy that will soon follow.

Rupert Grint, on the other hand, makes it seem like he IS Ron Weasley. He manages to capture Ron's obvious jealousy and frustration with Harry, while not overdoing it in a manner where we become annoyed with him. We see instances that might have influenced his judgment, and we sympathize with his situation. Removed from his family early on in the film, as with the novel, Ron clings to a radio that announces Wizards and Muggles that have been captured and/ or killed by the Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic, in the hopes of not hearing names of his loved ones. A scene to applaud is his argument with Harry as he screams "You want to know why I listen to that radio so much? It's because I don't want to hear Ginny's name, or Fred's, or George's, or Mum's and you don't understand. Your parents are dead. You have no family!" While obviously under the influence of the cursed locket, we are able to understand where his frustrations come from. Rupert's performance and delivery was fantastic.

Emma Watson's Hermione Granger is also not a performance to scoff at. While lots of people have called her bland, she is able to bring to the scene a sense of foundation for the trio - almost as if she was the rock holding them together. Emma's no-nonsense manner is perfect for Hermione's quick thinking and girl scout preparedness, which has enabled the famous 3 to survive out on the run as long as they did. I concur with Ron's "We wouldn't last 2 days without Hermione." line. They really wouldn't have. And Daniel and Rupert wouldn't have made it without Emma as well. My 2 favorite scenes of Emma has to be her narrative as she recites the tale of the 3 brothers and her heartwrenching screams as Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix Lestrange tortures her for information. It was short, but it was well done.

Not much scenes were given to the others as Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows is largely centered on the trio as they evade Death Eaters and search for Horcruxes. However, in their brief scenes, the rest of the cast delivered performances so wonderfully made that it is hard to pinpoint who stood out the most. As an ensemble, the casting directors of the Harry Potter franchise did a splendid job. The actors seem to be perfect for their roles.

Rhys Ifans's performance as Loony Luna's father, Xenophilius, was brilliant. His broken hearted speech about having to trade Harry for Luna was nothing short of gut-wrenching. Helena Bonham Carter once again proves how effective she is as bloodthirsty Bellatrix Lestrange and Jason Isaac's Lucius Malfoy is so believable that you can see the frustration over what will become of his family mingled with fear of the Dark Lord in his eyes. James and Oliver Phelps as Fred and George were perfectly casted as the comic relief of the series.

I also have to single out the performances of David O'Hara, Steffan Rhodri, and Sophie Thompson as Albert Runcorn, Reg Cattermole, and Mafalda Hopkirk, respectively. For those who aren't familiar with them, they are the 3 officials of the Ministry of Magic that Harry, Ron, and Hermione impersonated. They were hilarious! I swear I could see Hermione's face in the various expressions of Mafalda Hopkirk.

Of course, who could forget the tears brought about by some of the scenes? From Hedwig's death, to the news of Mad-Eye's, to Neville Longbottom standing up to death eaters and referring to them as "Losers", many a tears were shed with this movie. The hardest one to bear, however, belongs to Dobby. I couldn't contain my sobs as I saw Bellatrix throw the dagger that will take Dobby's life, and eventually, Dobby calling out to Harry as he lays there in Harry's arms proclaiming what a beautiful place it was to be with friends. As I type, tears fill my eyes. He is, indeed, a free elf.

While 2 and a half hours might be long for a single movie, I can honestly speak for everyone when I say that the movie was horribly cut short. I could've stayed for another 2 and a half just to finish the film. Unfortunately, we have to wait another year before the series concludes, but hey, on the bright side, that's one more year of Harry Potter being with us. 2 thumbs up, plus my toes, to everyone who made this film. It was, as it well should be, magical.

All good things,

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