In the weeks leading up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, I re-watched the film series in order. Thusly, I don’t feel at all uncomfortable in saying that, Deathly Hallows is, thus far, the best Harry Potter film to date. This is to say that it beats out Chamber Of Secrets‘ unforgivable awfulness, Half-Blood Prince‘s how-did-you-screw-this-up? badness, Philosopher’s Stone‘s cutesiness and manipulatively happy ending (damn you, Neville Longbottom, you redemptive lug), Goblet Of Fire‘s ante-upping action-with-heart, and 12-steps-above-the-rest-already Order Of The Phoenix.
Right away, it’s pretty clear that there is plenty in this film that caters exclusively to the series’ readership and/or plot elements that are necessary for the resolution of the story but that people back in ’01 didn’t think were important.
I’m feeling kind of lazy with this review, so here are some categorized thoughts, rife with spoilers.
1) Not explaining what was up with the mirror. For anyone not in the loop, there was absolutely no reason for Harry to be holding onto this random shard of glass, with a face staring back at him. Although nothing was said in Order Of The Phoenix to explain it, there exists the possibility that someone’ll do some ‘splaining in Part 2, but it seems a little late to explain a fairly emphasized prop three hours into your movie.
2) Cutting out the Dursley reconciliation. Again, this may be something that’ll get touched upon in Part 2, but Harry’s chat with Petunia and Dudley really helped set the tone for Harry’s ability to end one chapter of his life and move onto another. Instead, we got an almost-as-good depiction of an only-mentioned-in-the-books scene where Hermione severs the ties with her family so that she can help Harry on his adventures.
3) Who the hell is Rufus Scrimgeour? Again, this was a bit of a slap in the face for people who didn’t know about the changes in government that went unmentioned in the series thus far. It was a great scene cut out from Half-Blood Prince, when Scrimgeour meets with the Muggle Prime Minister, and, as a result, we have this random dude showing up in Part 1 that we only know is the Minister for Magic because people say he is.
4) Somebody get this mother-lovin’ snake out of this mother-lovin’ corpse. Instead of the “I can’t wait to see this moment” of having a snake burst out of Bathilda Bagshot’s corpse (like in the book), Bathilda just kind of melts into her robes and a snake comes out.
1) Hedwig’s epic death. No way no how is this owl gonna just rest up in a cage and get killed. Nuh-uh. Movie Hedwig gets to go all badass and try to mess up some Death Eaters before getting her Avada Kedavra.
1) Naked Harry and Hermione. When Ron is struggling to destroy the Horcrux, it taunts him with the idea that Harry and Hermione have been playing a little “hide the wand.” Y’know, putting his quid in her ditch. In the movie, the Horcrux is a huge douche and actually shows Ron images of his friends, naked, plowing their tongues into each others’ mouths. It intensifies the scene, puts even more salt in Ron’s wounds, and makes for a whole lot of badass.
2) Dobby. I haven’t cried since Neville Longbottom helped Gryffindor win the House Cup back in first year. Dobby changed all that with his valiant sacrifice and to-the-death loyalty.
3) The Tale of the Three Brothers. I’ve never experience a movie before where it suddenly cuts to an animated feature and, when it changed back to live-action, I found myself disappointed by real faces on the screen. The scene is absolutely stunning in its animation, and gorgeous in its darkness.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. It’s the best thus far, but if you haven’t read the books, bring someone who has, because you’re going to have some questions.