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Capt. Sage's Review of the Film:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One

This movie contains the first part of the last book in the Harry Potter series, and is a very encouraging indication of how well the movies will send off the series. This movie sticks the closest to the book of any of the movies so far, and this makes the movie very strong, indeed. With excellent acting, good technical effects, and an exciting and comprehensible rendition of the storyline, this movie does very well. My expectations that it would be filled with a painful amount of angst were fortunately incorrect. In fact, the things which most hold this movie back are the deviations from the books that it and previous movies have made.

With that said, one does not have to have seen the previous movies to enjoy this movie. The beginning capably introduces what is occurring for both those who have seen the previous movie, and also helping to establish what is occurring now for those who have never seen the movie. (See the spoiler section below.1) Granted, it is still a daunting proposition for a complete newcomer to the series to try to understand so many characters, but the movie clearly establishes relationships and the overall theme of danger.

The movie clearly communicates the danger involved, as the world of wizardry the characters inhabit is in constant danger from enemies, who finally succeed in taking over the reins of officialdom from the good wizards. The movie ably communicates the new state of affairs through well-designed props and scenery, such as propaganda and the new statue of oppression in one of the most impressive sets. The scenes in the halls of wizarding government are among the best.

All of the characters are back, and they are all acting well, which is especially nice to see here at the end, as their conflicts are resolved. The previous movie's focus on the character's relationships continues, but now some of the problems that are experienced are explored as well. Although the movie generally handles this well, there were some instances where I wasn't quite sure what we were supposed to learn about the characters. (See the spoiler section below.2) There was also one instance where an earlier movie sabotaged an important plotline, so the plotline had to be left out of this movie, to its detriment. (See the spoiler section below.3) Finally, the movie used special effects clumsily and harmed, or as the British say, "over-egged the pudding," for one of the major conflicts, which was a shame. (See the spoiler section below.4)

Aside from those issues, this movie does a good job of hewing to the plot of the book, and doing so in a manner that is appropriate for a movie. The plot ratchets in intensity and comes to a halt just at a thrilling point, but this is to be expected for a movie that is explicitly trying to cover only half of a book. The ending point it chose is also extremely logical, and does close off a dramatic arc, so that the movie feels as though it has reached a logical end, but the story is clearly to be continued.

I, for one, am looking forward to the continuation of the story, and the high quality of this film makes me believe that my expectations for the next will be fulfilled.

SPOILERS

1: The beginning was done extremely well, and was particularly poignant as Hermione is forced to make her parents forget her. The film even found an excellent way to portray this, by showing her disappearing from family photographs. However, the beginning was also supposed to be showing the three main characters, and it would've felt more balanced if we had gotten to see more of Ron and Harry. Specifically, I would've liked to have seen Dudley's redemption and creation of a friendship with Harry, especially as this is probably the last time we'll see Dudley or his parents, and the resolution of Harry's conflict with all three of them- the first conflict the protagonist consciously has in the books and movies - is important. It could also have been an interesting and poignant juxtaposition to see that just as Harry and the Dursleys finally restore their familial relationship, Hermione is losing hers.

In addition, a scene with Ron and Ginny in the beginning could've helped to explain why she doesn't get to come along on the main quest of the film. In the book, Harry and Ron want to protect her, and so insist that she cannot join them, but in the movie, there is no clear reason why she couldn't have come along, as well. Giving Ron and Ginny a scene establishing that would've given Ron an interesting scene that probably could've stood well against Hermione's actual scene, and my suggested scene for Harry.

2: The Harry & Hermione dancing scene tried to do it right but almost failed, by which I mean that it almost seemed that Harry and Hermione were trying to spark a romance after Ron abandoned the quest. I'm not sure whether the scene was too long or too short, should've had more dialogue or less, or what exactly should've happened. It almost perfectly showed that they were two friends dancing, but I'm not quite sure what was supposed to have happened at the end, or why the scene existed at all. Was the scene implying that they could've been together? If so, was the ending supposed to be bittersweet in that sense? Or, as I think more likely, was the ending trying to say that they were friends dancing, but realizing they were getting close to hurting each other, and stopped? I can't quite recall whether the scene was in the book or not, and if so, what it was trying to communicate.

3: The fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, only barely introduced Kreacher. It didn't establish, as the book did, the prejudice against Kreacher that Sirius transmits to Harry, or the conflict that Harry and Kreacher have. With so little introduction to Kreacher, this movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, had little choice but to keep Kreacher's appearance very brief and leave out his part in the seventh book. However, the seventh book's part for Kreacher, in which he is redeemed, and Harry realizes how much of his opinion of Kreacher was undeserved, and how treating Kreacher differently results in Kreacher treating him differently, is important foreshadowing for two other characters, whose own denouments will be coming very soon. Since this is the spoiler section, I'll go ahead and name names. First, the foreshadowing is important for helping the audience to realize that Snape, like Kreacher, has done evil, but has also done much good that has gone unrecognized. Secondly, the realization that perception is not reality helps explain the revelation that the seventh book in its entirety makes, that, contrary to appearances, Dumbledore hasn't always made good choices, and doesn't always know best. Without Kreacher to set these plot lines up, much of their effect is lost. In addition, Kreacher's own plot line was beautiful in its own way.

4: Ron's conflict with the locket was generally well-done, but it was both overproduced, being too heavy on special effects, and it overemphasized Ron's conflict with Harry. This is a pity, as I think the movie had a shot at improving upon this part of the book. The overwhelming special effects took us away from the actors' performances, which really is crucial in an inner conflict scene. Further, the special effects overemphasized Ron's jealousy of Harry, probably in order to obtain a cheap sensual shot of Harry stealing Ron's girl. Since movie and book one, it's been clearly established that Ron is afraid of ignominy and unimportance generally, not just in comparison to Harry. In some ways, the mirror of Erised in the first movie and book suggest that Ron fears being ignored in his own family more than he fears not being as impressive as Harry Potter. Some more balance would've been desirable in that scene, such as showing more scenes of Ron's family as opposed to more scenes of Harry. It's the next-to-last movie, and soon all opportunities to see any of these characters will be gone, so I don't see why a little more face time for the Weasley clan would've been a bad thing!