The latest Potter wields a “deathly” script
The first installment in the final chapter of the Harry Potter series, “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” might be the most fanatical fan-targeted adaptation in film history. Such seeming artistic arrogance which has contributed to this thoroughly confusing film might be justified if DH1 were the least bit exciting or magical. Noted critics have used the words “unintelligible” and “impenetrable” to describe the script. Here’s a couple more: Boring and meandering.
Despite featuring dozens of potentially interesting characters, most of them familiar to even casual fans and the noticeable acting maturity of the series’ young stars, DH1 features no sustained action and a plodding pace that zaps the story of any urgency.
The film starts off with promise-a terrifying meeting of the Ministry of Magic led by Voldemort (in one of just many unexplained elements, his name can now be mentioned over and over again with no apparent repercussions) who is determined to kill Harry (Daniel Radcliffe). Friends Ron (Rupert Grint-buffed up but still mumbling lines) and Hermione (Emma Watson-lovely as ever but can’t seem to muster a smile) are there to help Harry defeat their noseless nemesis by collecting “Horcruxes,” powerful pendants linked to Voldemort’s soul. Again, despite being central to the plot almost none of this explained.
The mood is somber and the film maintains a grim tone, especially visually, but that alone is not what makes “DH1” easily the least entertaining of the series. A lot appears to be at stake in this part of the journey and our beloved trio is a long way from the enchanting confines of Hogwarts. But any fun and whimsy have been crushed by an air of self-importance. Even an inspired animated sequence that explains in folktale fashion the nature of the Deathly Hallows– which comes very late in the film– can’t save a script that is burdened with disjointed exposition and is almost devoid of storytelling.
Plenty of films from mammoth novels have adapted well to the screen (“Gone With the Wind,” “Les Miserables,” “The Lord of the Rings”) so it’s a cop-out to say there is too much material to make a compelling, understandable, and enjoyable-for-the masses film. None of this argument will convince the rabid Potter fan. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” is destined to do huge box office despite its flaws. The filmmakers are apparently obsessesd with pleasing their fans, not necessarily an unworthy objective, but it’s too bad they weren’t as concerned with making great movies.
Rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality.