Friday, January 07, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1'

7 January 2011

A trip to the cinema over Christmas to see the new Harry Potter film has very quickly become such a seasonal fixture that, as with the Doctor Who Christmas special, it's hard to remember what we used to do before. In the case of the Harry Potter films we will soon be forced to remember but we enjoyed going to see the penultimate episode 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1' last week. "These are dark times, there is no denying" but there's little sign of austerity in this blockbuster. As I felt when reading the book (reviewed here in August 2007), freed from the formulaic strictures of another school year at Hogwarts, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' is a thrillingly unpredictable ride. It felt like a more grown-up film and was often genuinely scary. I'm not sure whether you would be able to follow the incredibly complex plot if you were unfamiliar with the books but this has been a problem for all the HP films. This one feels like Emma Watson's movie with Hermione really coming of age - though, once again, in a few brief scenes Evanna Lynch's Luna Lovegood threatens to steal the show. The adult supporting cast is a veritable Equity directory of British acting talent: it's now much easier to name the prominent British actors who are not involved. And it's an amazing testament to the financial clout of the franchise to see how many really big name stars make incredibly fleeting, often wordless cameos: Miranda Richardson appears once in a newspaper photograph (albeit a moving one). Interesting also to see Bill Nighy doing a Welsh accent and Rhys Ifans doing an Irish accent. But as with the previous films it is to the director's credit (David Yates in this case) that the adults play second fiddle to the young leads. Any film which sets out to tell half a story feels a little unsatisfying but I felt this was one of the best of the HP series and I'm looking forward to the final instalment.



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