Nov 29, 2010

Movies: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

So, where did the degradation of the Harry Potter movie franchise start? The most common answer would be "after The Prisoner of Azkaban", and it would be mostly accurate. After all, Cuaron's dark vision of Hogwarts is a very high bar to compete against, especially considering how anal Rowling is about altering her books. However, truth be told, The Goblet of Fire was still a pretty decent movie, if more mundane than its predecessor. No, my friends, the mortal wound was dealt by the hiring of one David Yates. A TV director of middling talents and no vision whatsoever, he was not the bold artist that a franchise of this caliber needed, but the timid servant that Rowling wanted in her paranoia that her words of wisdom might somehow be lost in alteration.

Thus were we left with the profoundly mediocre Order of the Phoenix and Half-blood Prince. Movies with no thrill, no spirit, and even worse - ones that followed the books so precisely that they were just bad cinema. At the same time Yates seems to lack any sense of priority, and important scenes/events were consistently glossed over in favor of slow and dull minutiae which - with main cast comprised of actors with actual talent - might have presented some nice character development, but which were instead utterly pointless. I've had numerous people who hadn't read the books prior to watching the movie, tell me that The Half-blood Prince's plot just didn't make sense to them.

So, where am I going with this long introduction? Sadly, not towards a playful plot-twist. The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is every bit as bad as its predecessor. It is slow, unimaginative, uneventful, and - nauseatingly for a fantasy movie - ultimately very, very boring. The narrative flows with the speed and elegance of a freshly castrated fetus, while characterization is practically non-existent. The latter is utterly ridiculous since - even though nothing actually happens and people just stare with empty eyes into the aether most of the time - no character actually gets enough time for any development. Even previous movies' strongest point - the support cast, comprised of Britain's finest actors - fails in The Deathly Hallows. It's just that nobody has anything interesting to perform.

The single good moment in the mind-numbing two and a half hours of this dullfest is the tale of the three brothers and Death, which is designed like a Guillermo del Toro or Dave McKean puppet vision and looks positively beautiful.

That lasts about three minutes.

No, seriously, I am not going to bother making this look like a real review. The effects were ok as usual (although rather bland, considering we're out of Hogwarts for this one), music was completely forgettable even though it was done by the amazing Alexandre Desplat, the main trio are disgusting both in terms of acting, and appearance (with the cherry going to Ron/Rupert Grint who has kept hitting the gym hard and the gym seems to have hit back...), and yada yada yada.

If you are bummed by the lack of detail in this review, just know this - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 was so catastrophically bland, boring and uninspired, that it took me a whole week to actually force myself to write even as much as I have managed. How's that for a review?


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