By Elena Cresci
Part One of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows marks the beginning of the end. When the last book of the best-selling series was released, many fans took solace in the fact that there were still more of the films left to enjoy. But now the multi-million franchise is winding down to an end with the final novel being adapted into two films. Director David Yates returns after helming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to see the series off. The final instalment sees the trio out of their native Hogwarts and forced into hiding as Voldermort seizes control of the Ministry and strikes terror into the hearts of the wizarding community. It’s up to ‘The Boy Who Lived’ and his friends to find and destroy the Horcruxes, fragmented parts of Voldermort’s soul, in order to defeat the Dark Lord.
The Harry Potter series is one that captured the imagination of a generation of children; this is a series that defined many a childhood. Clearly, the films have a great deal to live up to. I grew up with Harry Potter, so if other fans are anything like me, they scrutinise every detail the films ‘got wrong’, despite there being no way that any director could include the entire breadth of Harry Potter’s world into a feature film of a watchable length. For this reason, the decision to split the final film of the series seems an astute one.
However, for me, this penultimate film is the one which most shows the weaknesses which have plagued the series from the very beginning. The inherent problem with all of the films is that they aren’t really great adaptations, and this offering is no different. Certain key plot points, such as Dumbledore’s friendship with Gellert Grindelwald, are given minimal exposition which often affects the flow of the plot. Additionally, it may have been beneficial to introduce the Hallows earlier, particularly as Rowling was criticised on publication of the final novel for their late introduction to the series. With two films to play with, their late introduction begs the question, why bother splitting Deathly Hallows in the first place?
However, saying this, there are certain qualities to the film which make it stand out. On several occasions, the cinematography is something to be admired. The animation that Yates uses to introduce the Hallows is a stroke of genius, and possibly the most enjoyable and innovative part of the film. Additionally, Yates conveys the atmosphere of terror in the wizarding community with great skill, with the aid of Ralph Fiennes putting in a chilling performance as Lord Voldermort.
In fact, it could be said that much of what made the series enjoyable to watch involved the performances of the adults in their roles as the staff of Hogwarts and other members of the wizarding community. But due to the nature of the Trio’s quest, the majority of the film lies on the three young lead’s shoulders. With Alan Rickman’s character Severus Snape’s role almost reduced to a cameo, the core acting displayed by the leading actors feels weak and falls somewhat flat on its face. Unfortunately, Daniel Radcliffe has still to prove himself as a decent leading man, and sometimes the chemistry between the Trio can feel forced. This causes the film’s slower moments to feel long and drawn out, leaving viewers anxious for some sort of action.
I hate to say it, but the Harry Potter films have always disappointed me, and unfortunately the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hasn’t proven any different. Perhaps I’m just fussy because I essentially grew up with Harry Potter, but somehow the films seem completely throwaway, despite their massive budgets. For me, they won’t stand the test of time as the novels have. As a film by itself, it’s enjoyable enough; sure, the camping scenes can get a little bit boring, but it’s got plenty of action and special effects to entertain the casual viewer. As an adaptation however, it just doesn’t cut it.
6 OUT OF 10