Deathly Hallows Enthralls Potterheads

Warner Brothers Pictures

Megan Freeman

The second-to-last installment of the epic saga of Harry Potter was released to clamoring crowds at the midnight premiere on Thursday night. Scores of fans swarmed to theaters in full Potter garb, hoping that Part One of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would live up to the high expectations set by the book. It is indeed a tall order to turn an internationally beloved series into a film franchise. But director David Yates, returning for his third Potter film, is more than up to the challenge. The movie is spectacular, arguably the best one in the series so far, and a worthy adaptation of the book.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has a dark tone, and rightly so. Voldemort is gaining power, and the wizarding world is thrust into a state of fear and confusion—nobody knows whom they can trust. Part One follows Harry, Ron and Hermione as they attempt to weaken Voldemort by finding and destroying his horcruxes (objects containing pieces of Voldemort’s soul) often without a clue as to what they are doing.

Unlike previous years, Harry has no guidance, no mentor to tell him what to do. Dumbledore is dead, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are truly on their own for most of the movie. This leaves the weight of the film on the acting abilities of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, who also rise to the occasion.

After ten years of making Potter movies, Radcliffe is at home playing Harry, and has mastered the character’s impulsive and often angsty heroism. There is plenty of the usual Harry in the film, but Radcliffe also gets to show off his sense of humor, particularly in the scene of “The Seven Potters”. In the scene, one of the best in the film, six of Harry’s friends transform into his likeness using polyjuice potion. A neat bit of special effects let the seven Radcliffes stand in the same room, exchanging uncomfortable and quite amusing glances at each other.

Yates uses quite a bit of humor in the film, but it doesn’t detract from the overall ominous atmosphere. It makes the movie much more enjoyable than the last two. The entire Ministry of Magic infiltration scene is an exceptional display of humor in a sinister situation. Rupert Grint is the source of much of the comic relief, mainly because of his outlandish facial expressions.

One of the best parts of the film is watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s relationships be tested and strengthened by bitter fights. The arguing scenes are very good, but Radcliffe and Grint really excel at showing the patient friendship the boys share, especially when Ron convinces Harry that he can’t fight Voldemort alone.

Both actors have interesting on-screen relationships with Watson. The movie plays up the romance between Ron and Hermione with several lingering looks and touches. Grint and Watson handle them in a sweetly awkward manner. The film also looks a bit more into Harry and Hermione’s relationship, which is warm and trusting, but marred by one extremely uncomfortable and unnecessary dance.

Viewers who have not read the books should beware, they will be lost among the wizarding vocabulary, numerous characters and places. True Potter fans will enjoy that Yates keeps the film mostly accurate, only skipping details and cutting corners to make the movie flow better and more quickly. Nevertheless, the movie takes a good two and a half hours. The length of the film may annoy some viewers—there is a bit of a lag in the horcrux searching scenes—but it is mostly engaging, entertaining and thrilling. Most of the thrill comes from the spectacular visual effects, which are plentiful but not overdone; they serve to move the story along and not just to impress (they do anyways).

Because the movie is really only half of the book, Yates had to cut the film short with an abrupt ending. Though it leaves the viewer in fervent anticipation of Part Two, it is still an outstanding addition to the Harry Potter series.