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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » November 30, 2010
Film review
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
November 30, 2010   
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Ever since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opened in 2007, the series of movies about the young sorcerer has been growing steadily worse. One cannot help but think that director David Yates is to blame, since that lackluster movie marked the start of his involvement with the Harry Potter series. Despite criticism, the producers extended Yates’s contract to take in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in 2009 and both parts of the final book in the saga.

Judging by the first part, some hope is left that things might still improve. Joanne K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter has undeniably proved the biggest literary phenomenon of the past decade, considers the latest, seventh Harry Potter movie as the best adaptation of her books. That is clearly an exaggeration. So far Rowling gave her best reviews to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban directed by Alfonso Cuaron, which is indeed the best part of the series. It thus seems that either Rowling’s cinematic taste has changed miraculously or, what seems more likely, her enthusiasm is probably linked to her contract with the movie producers. Either way, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 gives the impression of a haphazard sequence of scenes designed to show off special effects, so confusing that those unfamiliar with the novels can get completely lost. That said, the scenes are admittedly attractive and well acted.

For most of the time, the movie centers around the three main young characters: Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson).

This time, Watson steals the show, while Radcliffe has just two or three facial expressions to offer throughout the movie, just as he did in the previous part. As usual, adult actors come across better, but the scenes with them are much too few. Still, the A-list cast of the Harry Potter series has grown again, the latest additions being Bill Nighy (the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, The Constant Gardener, Love, Actually) as magic minister Rufus Scrimgeour and Rhys Ifans (Hannibal Rising, The Shipping News) as Xenophilus Lovegood, the father of Harry’s classmate Luna.

At the end of the day, the highlight of the newest Harry Potter is the score by Alexandre Desplat (The Ghost Writer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the fourth composer to write music for the series, after John Williams, Patrick Doyle and Nicholas Hooper. His gloomy and atmospheric music perfectly complements the dark and suggestive cinematography by Eduardo Serra (Blood Diamond, Unbreakable, Defiance).

One point of interest is a key subplot that is shown as an animated sequence and resembles a shadow puppet play. The short scene is highly memorable.

Whether Yates has done a good or bad job on the final Harry Potter novel will be clear only when the final film opens in July. No matter how good or bad Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 turns out to be, the producers’ wallets are sure to grow fatter again, as has been the case with all adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling novels.
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