[Post updated 5/29/2011 – addenda in brackets]
Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Length: 146 minutes
Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves, based on the book by J.K. Rowling
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Oscars: nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects
How I saw it: in the theater,
yesterday November 2010 [re-watched on video (rented from Netflix) May 2011]
Synopsis: teenage wizards are on the run from magical fascists
Pacing: The trouble with a movie not having an ending, and knowing going in that it doesn’t have an ending, is that at the beginning of every new sequence I think, “Oh, it’s not over yet?” [The second time through, I had no problem with the pacing. But then I guess that’s just the nature of the problem I had with it the first time though, so I’ll let my “indifferent” rating stand.]
Cinematography: I think their visuals may actually have topped Alfonso Cuarón’s installment. How did that happen? And more importantly, why have they been holding back for the last three movies? [No, they don’t top Cuarón, but it’s hardly a fair comparison. I mean, he’s Alfonso Fucking Cuarón.]
Special effects/design: They have certainly come a long way in this series. It went from looking like a bad episode of Xena in the first two movies, through the lovingly-crafted-indie-movie stage, and now it finally looks like a big budget movie franchise. It’s a little late, but that’s better than nothing.
Acting: Am I the only person who notices that Helena Bonham Carter is awful? Because she is. [After seeing King’s Speech, I take this back. She can act; she just has a thing for picking terrible, hammy roles.]
Subjective Rating: 8/10 (Great,). I was unimpressed with the book, which I found unmemorable (except for the bits that were supposed to be sad, which I thought were funny thanks to their persistent frequency). I enjoyed this movie quite a bit, though, despite its faults – e.g., not explaining every detail. But I don’t really care that they didn’t explain little things like the mirror Harry keeps looking into. Presumably it’s not important to the story, and there’s enough important stuff for them to spend the Explaining Time explaining. And if there weren’t six other movies and a book that you could assume contained the answers, you might think of it as intriguingly mysterious rather than carelessly unexplained. In fact, I’d say it’s that sort of thing that makes this movie work. They don’t spend three hours cramming every detail into the movie to make sure the audience gets everything they would get from the book, like they do in some of the other Harry Potter movies. Instead, they just tell the story. It has room to breath. Its focus is appropriately narrow for a movie. And most importantly, there are only three main characters. As I recall, the books only ever had three main characters; now one of the movies can say the same thing. They get to develop, and Have Scenes, and even do some acting.