Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the book, you might want to avoid the last few paragraphs.
Director David Yates chose to start “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” with a disturbingly close image of a set of unattractive eyes we’ve never seen before, and paired it with a cryptic, diplomatic speech from the Minister of Magic. The character’s voice was unrecognizable and the speech was too dry for an opening.
But for the rest of the 149 minutes I did not launch a single complaint.
Most of what the filmmakers changed from the book worked to make the film better. The screenwriters actually improved the dialogue from the book’s, something that had yet to be done in a Potter film. They added scenes, removed details that were not essential, and smoothed over holes in the plot, yet still told the same story and stayed true to the book. So much of “Deathly Hallows” happens inside of Harry’s head, but the filmmakers actually managed to play it all out in his relationships and conversations with the people around him.
This has the potential to be the best Potter film in the series, mainly because they didn’t maim the story by squashing it into one film. This time around, they paid attention to the more delicate subplots and granted each scene the attention and time it deserved.
The special effects and action scenes were so well done that though I knew the outcome, and had read it three times over, I was actually filled with suspense and dread when Bellatrix tortured Hermione, a scene in which Helena Bonham-Carter and Emma Watson were flawless. Plus, I admittedly jumped a mile out of my seat when Harry and Hermione were attacked by Voldemort’s snake.
There will be those who will claim the inability to sit through two-and-a-half hours that only tells half a story. I would like to remind them that the decision to split the film in two was made for the fans who wanted the whole story told. Though it may seem drawn out for the purposes of the cash flow it brings the studio, after seeing the movie it is clear the intent of the filmmakers was to do justice to the complex, multi-level plot that is the seventh book, rather than make this movie as long as possible. It was simply as long as it needed to be. Plus, the unprecedented level of humor and the expected level of action should keep even the most fair-weather fan entertained.
In the film’s final scene, Voldemort grows even more powerful, yet it wasn’t as maddening as it should have been when the screen cut to black. The story was perfection; the freshly added humor was perfectly balanced with the darkest magic we’ve seen yet. I am not even upset that I have to wait seven months to see the second part. After what the filmmakers have done with the most disjointed part of Harry’s psychological and physical journey, I have complete faith that the final battle of the series will be the epic ending we are all hoping for.