Monday, 18 April 2011
Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
Or, Harry Potter Goes Camping and Has a Really Miserable Time. Think of it as a remake of Nuts in May with wands. I kept expecting Roger Sloman to show up and to tell Harry that he couldn't build a fire there.
I've never been a fan of the Harry Potter series–neither book nor film versions. I've always regarded the books as very poorly written and over-hyped rubbish whose popularity is only explainable as one of those self-reinforcing pop culture phenomena that also kept the Beatles from sinking into a well-deserved obscurity. Of the two, I've been more forgiving toward the film series–partly because the directors of most of the films had the sense to trim down the stories into something acceptable, but mainly because they are rich Rifftrax feeding grounds.
The latest installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is easily the worst of a bad lot. This is called "part 1" because the seventh and (please, God!) final book in the Potter series was split into two for the screen. Why, I have no idea except for the obvious possibility of pure greed. Mind you, if there is any justice, audiences will be so put off by Hallows that they'll give Part 2 a wide berth.
It's the climax of the series and Harry and friends are on the run from Lord Voldemort and in order to keep Harry from being killed to death we're whisked along on an elaborate chase scene involving ray guns and speeder bikes. Sorry, wands and broomsticks. Having reached a double-super-secret safe house, Harry et al then do what anyone on the lam would do: They go to a wedding.
Then they act all surprised when the baddies attack.
Then things get silly. For reasons that make sense only in Rowling's contrived little world, Harry, Hermione and Ron set off on a quest to destroy the Ring. Sorry, to find the horcruxes that contain the fragments of Voldemort's soul. They do this by sitting in a damp tent for ninety minutes of screen time, fuming with frustration over ludicrous clues left by the late Professor Dumbledore, and getting on each other's nerves.
This is a classic example of bad writing. Rowling (who also produced this film, so she's no excuse) doesn't convey a sense of boredom, frustration, and annoyance; this plot is boring, frustrating, and annoying. Remember, I'm not talking about a scene or a segment of the story. This is the main plot. Our heroes sit around being bored and bickering. Every now and again they go look for something, get into trouble, teleport somewhere else, and the whole dreadful cycle starts all over. In the end, our heroes are captured with pathetic ease, escape with even greater ease, we have a completely pointless and utterly ineffective scene of Harry sobbing over the corpse of a latex elf, Lord Voldemort finds A Really Powerful Wand, and Ron is still ginger.
It is also unrelentingly grim, humourless, unnecessarily bloody, and violent with scenes of torture, partial nudity, and bad acting, so this is not appropriate for anyone who thought this was still a kids series. As for adults, unless you sit down to watch Harry Potter while clad in your Hogwarts robe and clutching your Official Limited Edition Harry PotterTM Wand With Light-Up Tip, I'd give this a berth.
In fact, I'd run down side streets to avoid it.