Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 review

The seventh and penultimate outing of the hugely successful book and film series follows Harry Potter (Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Grint) and Hermione Granger (Watson) on their hunt for the Horcruxes; destroy them, destroy Lord Voldemort (Fiennes), save the world.

As a huge fan of the books, I’m always slightly apprehensive of their transformation onto the big screen; however, I was in for a treat with the Deathly Hallows. It stays almost completely true to the book, amending and omitting only minor details, and doesn’t drag at any point throughout the 146 minutes – which is one of the film's strengths. I felt a tumult of emotions throughout the picture: it was absolutely heart-wrenching to see Hermione "obliviate" her parents' memories and her image being dissolved from all her family photos; exciting as seven Harrys fly through the sky, battling Death Eaters; and terrifying were the scenes with Nagini (Voldemort’s snake) – thank heavens it wasn’t in 3D or I would have leapt twice as high out of my seat! Echoing Nazi Germany’s Holocaust in the persecution of Muggles (non-magical folk), with hints of George Orwell’s 1984 as we see the workers being watched while obediently preparing Undesirable No 1 posters, most probably guilty of ‘thought crimes’, it’s truly the most harrowing of the films so far.

When you look back on the first couple of films, the seventh indeed lacks the schoolboy mischief and childish charm of Hogwarts. However, this is because of course in 10 years the characters, as well as the plot, have grown and matured. No longer a children’s film, the sinister tones make us stand up and realise how far a journey we’ve come with Harry and friends and that this is truly a story that just keeps getting better and better.

Grint is offered the opportunity to act for more than just laughs, and certainly succeeds. Faced with being on the run without home comforts and not knowing whether his family is dead or alive, Ron also has to live up to the possibility that Harry and Hermione might be better off with out him. He gives an emotional performance as he walks out on his two best friends, leaving them to fend for themselves, before a very dramatic return with the help of Dumbledore’s Deluminator just in time to save Harry and destroy a part of Voldemort’s soul. As one does.

Watson shines once again as she totally and completely embodies Hermione. With subtle facial expressions and mannerisms, she doesn’t even need to rely on the fantastic script for her outstanding performances, time after time after time. Even Radcliffe has stepped up his acting game, however that’s not particularly hard following on from his less than impressive performances in the past films. Not up to the standard that the films deserve, at least he seemed to be trying a little, though still without any emotion in his eyes.

Tragedy strikes at the end of the film as Dobby steals the limelight, and we are left thirsty for the second part, which will see Harry, Ron and Hermione break into wizarding bank Gringotts, and the devastating final battle of Hogwarts.

Official Site
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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