It’s hard to believe that it’s been nine years since the release of Chris Columbus’ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and it’s even harder to believe how much of a cultural phenomenon this big-screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s series of novels has become. In fact, Daniel Radcliffe, who has played Harry Potter over the years, was only 11 when he was first cast. This, of course, was before he started stripping down on stage in the somewhat controversial Equus revival.
But everything must come to an end, and to the dismay of Harry Potter fans, that also includes their beloved film series. And that is exactly what David Yates’ (who also helmed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 should have been: The end. However, studio executives had something else in mind when they decided to cut the series’ conclusion into two parts — profit. The result is a half-assed cash-in and total tease, which is further troubled by a poor script by Steve Kloves, who can’t decide what kind of tone he wants to set, and an overbearing running time that is brought upon with several superfluous plot points.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, excuse me, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, starts with an ominous looking Warner Brothers symbol, which is accompanied by the instantly recognizable series theme. This, surprisingly, caused an entire room, full of about 100 people, to scream and whistle in unison. It was from that moment, I realized that Harry Potter, is in fact, serious business (thought the fact that I had to wait in line for an hour to get into the actual screening room was another key indicator). But once the initial hustle and bustle had settled down, things fell apart . . . quickly.
We are introduced to Bill Nighy’s character, Rufus Scrimgeour, the current Minister of Magic, and just as quickly as we meet him, he is killed off. His replacement, Pius Thicknesse (Guy Henry), a pawn of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), is a destructive wizard — requiring all citizens to be tested for human blood, and whose personal troopers are strikingly similar to S.S. soldiers. “These are dark times, there is no denying it,” he proclaims. “Dark times” is definitely not an understatement, as Lord Voldemort’s faux-Illuminati minions — Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) — continue to engage in anti-muggle (in other words, human) violence, as they try to concoct a plan to get rid of Harry.
Harry, as is par for course, runs away with his childhood friends and fellow Hogwarts classmates, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint). His task is to destroy the locket of Salazar Slytherin, the fourth Horcrux. In order to do so, however, he must decipher the meaning behind Dumbledore’s (who is dead) offerings, of which include an old book, and some contraption that collects light, because as with all powerful sages, his last request was that he be allowed to screw with the gang during a time of peril. Of course, they’re exposed and forced to go on the run — you pretty much know the drill.
Now, although I couldn’t shake the feeling that the film was meant to be some profound allegory for either Freemasonry or the Third Reich (perhaps even both), and I admit to being entertained by the idea that J.K. Rowling was trying to expose a conspiracy through her books, I can’t say that same about actually watching it. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is flat, predictable, and just plain boring. There is so much sexual tension between Hermione and Ron, that is makes their chemistry somewhat ridiculous, and Kloves, has a habit of throwing in one obvious joke after another, which constantly disrupts the film’s flow. This makes the film feel like a story, and rather than being teleported into Harry’s world, I was left behind, fidgeting restlessly and looking at the time, just asking myself, “When is this movie over?”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 features everything from an indestructible necklace that induces teenage angst, to the clichéd argument in which one of the characters runs away in tears and the other (in this case, Harry) is left staring blankly at the ground, contemplating his fate. It even has a strange teleportation device that is conveniently disguised as a toilet! However, all these pieces not only lack any sense of coherence to anyone who isn’t a diehard Potter-maniac, but also spice, making the film feel more like a reunion over tea and crumpets rather than the grand adventure it is supposed to be.