Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1
Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
It seems that it's always a poisoned chalice when filmmakers know that they are making a two-part film or that a sequel will quickly follow on from the movie they are making. Back to the Future 2 and The Matrix Reloaded fall into this category and they're dull because the narratives feel incomplete and everything is building up to action and sequences that are months away. Of course, an example of such a film that actually did work was The Empire Strikes Back, but that was as much because it was a novelty at the time as anything else, especially when it ended with the bad guys on top. Now it seems that all these films have to either end with a great sense of foreboding or be so open-ended that it seems like a cheat. Even the second part of The Lord of the Rings was the worst of the trilogy for this reason. Unfortunately, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the first film of the hitherto excellent series that really disappoints.
The director David Yates, who did a fine job with parts five and six, doesn't pull the rabbit out of the hat this time. One of the noteworthy things about each film in the series thus far has been the ability to pack so much of the books upon which they are based into a movie timeframe, but given two-and-a-half hours to make what is essentially a preamble to a grand finale, the regular screenwriter Steve Kloves overindulges for the first time. Not enough time is spent on the action sequences and too much time is spent with Harry (Radcliffe) and Hermione (Watson) wandering through lush landscapes after Ron (Grint) has abandoned them in a misplaced fit of jealousy.
The best moment of the film takes place when Harry and Hermione dance together, but it's a shame that it's Ron who has to go missing as Grint shows a surprising and comedic touch.
The film starts with a promising set-piece, wherein all of Potter's friends get to act as decoys by pretending to be the magician. But any sense of suspense is wasted as the audience always knows which of the clones is the real Potter, and we do not get to see how any of his friends cope or fare with being the most famous magician in the universe.
The plot finally sees the trio escape the confines of Hogwarts as they venture out to search and destroy Horcruxes (stones containing fragments of Lord Voldemort's soul). The adults are not in this film much and there is definitely not enough of Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, given the pivotal role he has to play in the next and final episode.
The CGI has a hustled-together quality and one wonders how bad the abandoned 3D conversion must have been for the plug to have been pulled because the 2D sequences really aren't much cop. This is less a movie then an appetiser for the main course next summer.