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Vault Movie Review: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Theatrical Release: 11/19/2010

Theatrical Release: 11/19/2010

Synopsis

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is about to start his seventh year at Hogwarts, but after what happened last year, he has more important matters to attend to. The Death Eater’s attack on Hogwarts last year was a bold move that made it apparent to Harry Potter that he needs to find and destroy Voldemort‘s (Ralph Fiennes) Horcruxes, and he needs to do it soon. Harry Potter is still a target of Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and the Order of the Phoenix has provided Harry with an escort to protect him on his trip to Hogwarts, but after a tragic attack by the Death Eaters, Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) decide they are not going to Hogwarts. Instead, the three of them set out on an adventure to find the Horcruxes.

On their adventure, they soon learn of three legendary artifacts known as the Deathly Hallows. One is an invisibility cloak—the very same one that was mysteriously gifted to Harry during his first year at Hogwarts. The second is the Resurrection Stone, a stone that has the ability to bring people back from the dead. The third is the Elder Wand, a legendary, unbeatable wand that grants immense power to its owner. It is the third Deathly Hallow that Voldemort is after, and Harry quickly realizes that in addition to finding and destroying the Horcruxes, he must also find the Elder Wand before Voldemort gets his hands on it.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Getting to the Weasley's (+8pts)

Camping with a Horcrux (-4pts)

The Deathly Hallows (+8pts)

Slow (-3pts)

Draco & The Death Eaters (+5pts)

Romance (-2pts)

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Pro: Getting to the Weasley's (+8pts)

This movie started with a bang. The Order of the Phoenix were trying to get Harry Potter from his aunt and uncle’s house to the Weasley’s house before eventually sending him to Hogwarts. Since Harry Potter was an obvious target of Voldemort, and knowing how important Harry was in the war against Voldemort, the Order of the Phoenix knew they had to protect the young wizard. Thus, they formed an escort to get Harry safely to the Weasley’s, and that was when the Death Eaters attacked.

It was an epic way to start a movie, as it got me hooked almost immediately. This sequence was intense, exciting, tragic, and it established the dark, dramatic tone that would hang over the rest of the movie. It was the type of opening sequence that sucks your right into the excitement, and it had a lasting effect on the movie that made me feel like anything could happen. Usually, when visiting the wizarding world, the beginning of the movie is safe, and all the danger comes toward the end, but that was not the case here. It was a very exciting start, but it also made the rest of the movie feel pretty unpredictable, so for those two reasons, this was an excellent way to start the movie.

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Con: Camping with a Horcrux (-4pts)

As great a start as the movie had, the filmmakers lost a lot of momentum when it came to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the Horcrux. The three were on their adventure, and the Horcrux they were carrying had an effect on them not unlike the ring had on Frodo and whoever else carried it on its way to Mordor. That comparison was one that was hard to overlook, and it was not helped by the fact that this whole section was slow, uneventful, and uninteresting. It felt like the filmmakers forced tension into the three characters’ relationships with one another, just for the sake of having tension. In other words, that tension did not feel natural, and I never had any doubt that the characters would work through it, so it was drama that I did not care about. This whole section was unoriginal, uninteresting, over-dramatized, and unnecessarily drawn out. It was a combination that ended up taking all of the steam out of a story that the filmmakers had crushed starting.

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Pro: The Deathly Hallows (+8pts)

On one hand, I thought introducing these—in addition to having Harry, Ron, and Hermione still dealing with the Horcruxes—would make the story feel a bit cluttered with magical artifacts that needed to be found. That being said, I ended up liking how the filmmakers introduced the Deathly Hallows, I enjoyed the myth that went along with them, and introducing the Deathly Hallows made sense, as it gave Voldemort something to be after. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were on a mission to get the Horcruxes, but Voldemort was not exactly frantically trying to defend them. He was either unaware of Harry's mission, or he was confident enough with where the Horcruxes were hidden. Thus, it would have made no sense for Voldemort to just be sitting around doing nothing while the protagonists were doing their thing, so the author needed something for him to be after.

The Deathly Hallows were powerful artifacts, and I enjoyed the story that explained their origin. Voldemort was after one of them, and it was clear that it would be bad news if he got his hands on it, as it could have made the hunt for the Horcruxes meaningless. On one hand, the introduction of the Deathly Hallows made this story feel somewhat cluttered with magical artifacts. On the other hand, the Deathly Hallows were interesting, gave something for the antagonist to be after, raised the stakes, and stacked the deck against the protagonists. One of those hands definitely outweighed the other.

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Con: Slow (-3pts)

This was a direct result of the camping with the Horcrux issue, but when the filmmakers slowed the story down after the action-packed opening, they slowed the story way down. The camping part of the movie was incredibly slow, and it went on for awhile. We got what felt like forced tension between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and we saw them go on a boring little scavenger hunt. Do not get me wrong, it was still somewhat interesting. There were some cool things that happened in this part of the movie, and the slight character development that Harry got managed to keep me somewhat interested. However, the movie still felt really slow and uneventful, and I could not help but think that the movie could have been cut down quite a bit. It made it obvious that, while the final book had enough story to justify splitting it into two movies, this movie did not need to be nearly two and a half hours long. The filmmakers easily could have cut twenty minutes off of this thing, and most of that twenty minutes could have been cut from the camping and scavenger hunt sections.

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Pro: Draco & The Death Eaters (+5pts)

This was very much a continuation of Draco's story in the last movie, and I still enjoyed it. In the last movie, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) was sort of being pulled in two directions. In one direction were the Death Eaters, his father, and the legacy that his father wanted to pass onto Draco. In the other direction were Hogwarts, and his fellow classmates. The Death Eater scenes were intense, and regardless of which way Draco ended up going, his internal struggle was one that I was pretty interested in watching. Tom Felton had done a great job at making audiences hate Draco Malfoy over the course of the previous movies, but he did a great job at making audiences sympathize with the character in this movie anyway. He did a great job at bringing this character's internal struggle to the screen, and it was a storyline that I found to be pretty interesting.

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Con: Romance (-2pts)

Much like in the last movie, one of this movie's weaknesses was the romance. We got a little bit of Harry and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) on screen together, and once again the romance between them felt forced and unnatural. It just never felt like the filmmakers of previous movies were building toward this, then all of a sudden they decided to have the characters be potential love interests for one another in the later movies, and it just felt like it came out of nowhere. Then there was the hint of romantic feelings between two other characters who were always platonic with one another, so the hint of romantic feelings felt like they came out of nowhere as well, and were clearly only forced in here to force drama. Fortunately, the romance in this movie was very much kept in the background, but every time it got even a little focus, I thought it fell flat.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (87pts)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was a pretty good movie. It had a really strong start, with an epic and exciting climax that made the Death Eaters feel dangerous and made it feel like everyone was in great danger of falling victim to them. Then, however, the filmmakers lost literally all of the steam that they had built up, as the movie turned into a weird, slow camping trip where Harry, Ron, and Hermione were succumbing to the effects of the Horcrux in their possession. This section was slow, it was uneventful, and it made the movie feel a lot longer than it was and should have been.

Then there were the Deathly Hallows which I was worried would make the movie feel cluttered with too many magical artifacts, but I thought the story that was used to introduce them was interesting. I also thought they raised the stakes in a big way, as the idea of Voldemort getting his hands on one of them really stacked the deck against Harry and everyone who supported him. I also really liked the continuation of Draco Malfoy's involvement with the Death Eaters, as I thought the Death Eater scenes were intense and I thought Draco's internal struggle was compelling. This movie had some issues, but it was still a pretty entertaining movie, and it left me very excited to see the final chapter of this saga.

Comments

Movie Beasts (author) from MA on September 30, 2020:

Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you liked this review. Always good to know when these older movie reviews are appreciated

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on September 30, 2020:

I've seen all the Harry Potter films and really enjoyed them. It's been a while since I've seen this one, so shall have to watch it again. Thanks for the review. :)