Is Deathly Hallows: Part 1 the Best Potter Film Yet?

By bonnie, 27 November, 2010

I’m going to go with a resounding YES.  After having a week to process, I’m still very taken by it, as much as I was walking out of the theater.  I really can’t wait to see it again.  I thought the script was tighter and paced better than any of the other films.  The direction was simply excellent, especially in terms of choosing what to emphasize in a film that easily could have gone either way into overly creepy paranoia or just total dragging, boring, waiting for action to happen!  And the acting… while it makes sense that the cast would keep topping past performances, this was beyond what I expected from them!  The emotion and variances of chemistry between the trio were especially compelling, both as close friends (really a kind of family) who would risk everything for one another and playing off the tension between Ron and Hermione’s romantic feelings.  All of this contributed to the overall tone of the film.

Of course I have favorite parts that I will now list:

- The seven potters. Oh man, EVERY single part of this scene was spot on!   It was funny, tense and the effects looked spotless.  Brendan Gleeson totally stole that scene and delivered on everything his role was worth as Mad-Eye.  It was a fitting farewell to that character.

- Harry and Hermione dancing. And to a Nick Cave song, bonus points for that!  This was a special little added touch for the film that wasn’t in the book.  It’s just so lovely.  Harry is suitably loving and goofy, trying to cheer her up when Ron leaves.  It didn’t feel inappropriately romantic or forced.  I absolutely loved it.   It was also a little bittersweet, since she manages to smile and laugh through her sadness for a few moments, but they both know it won’t stick.

- The ministry scene. It was so well executed.  This scene could have been a total clusterfuck, but they pulled it off masterfully!   There is so much going on here in the book and for the film, they somehow managed to boil it down to the absolute essentials and for clarity-sake, keep it from jumping around too much.  The actors portraying Harry, Ron and Hermione in disguise were excellent at their mannerisms, down to Dan Radcliffe’s tendency to be a bit stiff in his movements and walk.

This was one of only a couple of parts where I did really miss emphasized details from the book.  Harry taking Mad-Eye’s eye back from Umbridge, the absolute panic and guilt that the trio has when they realize they are putting the real people they are disguising themselves as (and their loved ones) in danger and some of the more disturbing and sinister descriptions and overall disorientation really added to the suspense of that scene for me when I was reading it.   In the end, I agree with the streamlining choices they made for the film and found it effective.   However, I’m a nerdy fangirl and would be lying if I didn’t admit there are moments that I pine a little bit for the version in my minds-eye from the books.

- Two words: Shadow Puppets. The story of the Deathly Hallows.  I mean, what more is there to say?  It was exceptional.  Was anyone expecting anything like this?  It was the perfect choice.  It was a tiny animated film in itself.  It was perfect.

- Destroying the locket. The actual fight with the horcrux was just a whole lot larger than I had imagined.  Having not expecting that, I thought it really worked.

A few other little notes:

- The casting on Bill Weasley was right on! He looked related to the rest of the clan and was suitably attractive in a “leader of a grunge band in 1994″ way that was literally exactly how I had imagined him.

- Speaking of … that long-hair, glamrock-ish lead snatcher guy was cool.

- Ron saying “Babbity – Rabbity” just about kills me. Thinking about this now makes me giggle.

- The death-eaters, especially the Malfoys, all seemed suitably terrified and anxious about everything going on. Which just makes sense.  Except for Bellatrix who is supposed to just be vicious and unhinged always.  I thought that Helena scaled her character down a bit this time, and to the benefit of the characterization.  She seemed more serious, and therefore, more actually threatening not just manic.  I was pleased with this.

Was there anything I didn’t love about the film?  Yup.

- The house elves just never really work for me. I do think they did far better in this one than in the second film.  I also liked how they worked Dobby into the Kreacher scene to conveniently tie up the loose ends.  I think the house elves were something that was just not ever going to translate to screen in a way that I think looks believable.  I think they did the best they possibly could, but it still just doesn’t work for me the way that 3-D never seems special or worth it to me.

-Not enough Neville. Ok, so this is not really a valid complaint because he wasn’t at all in the first part of the book.  I just really love Neville and wish their could be a spin-off parallel mini-series where we go back and get to see all the Neville parts that were missing from the films and then some.  Because he rocks.

- That I could not immediately watch the second part was kind of a downer. As was to be expected and as it should be, really.  Doesn’t mean it didn’t suck a little bit to walk out of the theater and want more more more, now now now!  Again, not the most valid complaint.

I think I’ve exhausted this topic now.  What would be on your list of favorite parts?  Is there anything you felt didn’t work that I missed?  And am I right?  Is it the best of the films so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

7 Comments

  1. fatbottomedgirl says:

    Totally agree, esp with the house elfs. I loved every moment of the movie until poor ol Dan Radcliffe had to pretend to cry over a rubber Dobby doll. It would have been awesome if be just chucked Dobby into the surf and shouted “10 points to Griffindor!”

  2. bonnie says:

    Wow, harsh! :) Haha. For the sake of the Dobby in the books, who deserves his big scene, I’m glad they tried to do it as best they could. And I know a lot of folks who felt it worked and they got really emotional during that scene.

    I was just not one of them unfortunately.

  3. [...] Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – LOVED it.  what a beautiful film.  you can read more of my thoughts on it right here. [...]

  4. Brie says:

    I agree 100% that this is probably the best of the series. At last, it is an adult film – not pandering to 11 year olds.
    I have seen it FOUR times at the cinema, I would go again tomorrow. Everytime it just gets better. You notice little things…the hair of Bellatrix landing on Hermione, Is it snape who says “Trust me” just before the doe appears?
    The dance scene was so poignant, the music so appropriate.
    The animation of The Deathly Hallows was truly wonderful; that on its own would get an oscar but Hollywood has never really appreciated Harry Potter….
    Emma Watson, for me, was the strongest of the three characters. The scene at the beginning where she obliviates her parents was so sad, the terrifying encounter with Scabior (Nick Moran) when she is nose to nose with just the enchantment to protect her – but he can smell her perfume sent shivers through me and the scene where she has ‘Mudblood’ cut into her arm by Bellatrix – my God, the whole cinema was silent, the scream was visceral.
    House elves? Much as I liked Dobby in the second movie and cried when he died in the book, the levity in the Malfoy Manor scene was just inappropriate for the power and tension.
    I have followed HP from the beginning. I have been blessed with a brief meeting with JKR, a moment I will treasure – what an awesome phenomenon the books have been. I can’t wait for July but then what will fill its place? Nothing can ever equal, let alone surpass the wonderful world of Harry Potter

  5. bonnie says:

    Brie-

    Just wanted to thank you for your comments. I love hearing about the extra details people catch with repeated viewings, because everyone notices something different and it’s so much fun to go back and look.

    I agree with you about a lot of the standout parts, and Emma was brilliant and had a lot more of the action and emotional weight resting on her in this film than ever before.

    And I’m also excited for July, but a little bit sad too knowing it’s going to be over.

    I also got to meet JK Rowling (I was at the carnegie hall event for Deathly Hallows) or really just got to speak with her for a second as she was signing my book! Knowing how much it meant to me, I love hearing about how other fans got to have that experience as well!

    Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate comments!

    -bonnie

  6. [...] the same time as the dvd for Part 1, which is rumored to be happening March 15th.   I wonder if my Part 1 high will hold out that long or if I will be having withdrawal as soon as it leaves the theaters for [...]

  7. Liv says:

    I pretty much agree with you on everything, especially Harry & Hermione’s dance scene (that was absolutely beautiful, and the song perfect). The main reason I’m leaving a comment, though, is to tell you that you are not alone in your desire for more Neville scenes! Neville always was and always will be my favorite character in HP, and I always miss him when he doesn’t have a large part. Deathly Hallows Part 2 makes up for it, though!

What do you think?

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