Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cinema Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One

"These are dark times, there is no denying," exclaims Bill Nighy's Minister of Magic, an enthusiastic but sadly deluded leader forced into an unfortunate circumstance, bowing out to the dark Lord Voldemort and his minions and forcing his oppression on others in search of Harry Potter and all those wishing to help him. This is the world all wizards, witches, elves, dwarves and even muggles are unfortunately a part of now; an extremely troubled, more sinister advancement compared to the almost angelic world we were faced with in 'Philosopher's Stone'.

J.K. Rowling's renowned books depicting a young wizard destined to avenge the death of his parents is worldwide for its creativity and sheer spellbinding nature, capturing audiences all over the world for the past thirteen years. The latest triggers off the end of an era, the first segment of the inevitable finale most have been dreading in hope it doesn't end, or some, though i assume only a few, have been eagerly anticipating its demise; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One.

Forced as outlaws, Harry, Ron and Hermione unwillingly leave the comfort of their homes in search of the five remaining horcruxes (objects holding one of several pieces of Voldemort's soul), leaving them to fend for themselves, evading snatchers, death eaters and any other loyal servant to Voldemort himself.

Undoubtedly the darkest entry of the franchise, the familiar, cosy setting of Hogwarts is sadly absent, leaving our three, now fully grown, characters truly on their own with little-to-no hope of where to find and destroy these horcruxes that contains the only true way of abolising Voldemort once and for all. Once thrown on this perilous journey, the film is entirely character based, with the connection between our three heroes never appearing as strong as featured in Deathly Hallows: Part One. Believable in almost every aspect, their friendship on and off-screen is partially the reason the entire franchise works so well. Under the watchful eye of keen director David Yates (in his third outing with the Potter clan), they've remained throughout as characters that enable full investment, and, throughout the series, have grown all the more complex, with layer upon layer providing material for the young actors to also grow, to evolve into the particularly bright, genuine actors that they've become. While Radcliffe may still struggle with some aspects, his eagerness is never gone a miss, with Watson and Grint on top form as their personal, more intimate, relationship eventually spawns in the penultimate chapter -- scenes that, while only hinted at, are overwhelmingly heartwarming. Another scene in particular featuring Radcliffe and Watson in a 'will they, won't they' scenario is unarguably poignant and a true delight to watch, breaking the tension the film is so riddled with.

Now able to Apparate, the three simply link arms and are swept off to their desired location. In doing so, Part One takes place in dozens of gorgeous but somewhat unnerving destinations, ranging from darkened forests to the indisputably unsafe Malfoy Manor to Godric Hollow, a secluded town once home to the Potter parents and the Dumbledore clan, leading to several clues and a scene that advertently jump starts the heart and proves first-hand how adult the films now are. A potentially distasteful variation compared to the grounds of Hogwarts, but change was needed for an entry as serious as this -- with a story containing elements that parallel the nazi movement, it was inevitable.

A courageous, tight-knit adaptation of Rowling's source material sparks the best in Yates. An enthralling, dark and broody epic that highlights how wondrously inventive the story truly is. While newcomers will be scratching their heads, the dedicated fans will be cheering, laughing and crying throughout and left reeling from the cliffhanger that splits the story with aimless ease. While it may be the beginning of the end, July 2011 couldn't come quicker.


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