Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes
By Alan Bacchus
Frequent visitors to this blog might be familiar with my continued frustration with this series. It might be my fault for not paying attention very closely. But with each successive film after the third episode of the series, the narrative plotting, character motivations and general themes have been like a car spinning its wheels.
It’s been six films now and 10 years, and yet I feel no emotional movement or stake in the jeopardy of these characters. In fact, the most surprising disappointment is the lack of character development for the three leads. I mean, hell, we’ve seen them grow up as kids into teenagers, and other than some minor arguments, cat fights and sullen sulking, these characters are as dull and boring as their child counterparts from The Philosopher’s Stone.
But let’s concentrate on this latest film. Lord Voldemort and his ‘Death Eaters’ have asserted their dominance and control over Hogwarts and placed a dark cloud over the entire world (Earth, I guess? Or just London? Or Britain?). Potter, who is still considered the ‘chosen one’ even though he exhibits nary an ounce of ingenuity, inspiration, or even leadership, has fled to safety using a potion that creates multiple identical versions of himself. While in hiding, a wedding takes place, which alerts Voldemort. This causes Harry, Hermione and Ron to flee to London, where they discover more secrets about the maguffin-like Horcruxes.
The Horcruxes have to be destroyed for some reason, which sends Harry, Hermione and Ron on a Tolkien-like quest across rural England. This leads to the Deathly Hallows, another maguffin-like trio of symbols (a wand, a stone and a cloak), which have to be found before Voldemort discovers them.
Of course, this is a silly summary of the plot, but having been confused by the previous films, it’s the only way to write it. In watching these films now, it’s too late to go back and try to understand who knows what and why, where everyone is and why, and who has what potion or instrument of magic required to kill Voldemort or Harry, so it’s best just to enjoy the eye candy.
Deathly Hallows Part I certainly has the best action of the bunch. In fact, we’re never in the stodgy old Hogwarts Castle (indeed that location has certainly run its course). Instead, we’re treated to some car chases and some gun/wand fights. We never really get a good hand-to-hand fight sequence, but I guess the magic of the wand replaces the need for fisticuffs.
The Potter/Hermione/Ron trio is still boring and dull, and the same goes for Voldemort and the baddies. As an aside, why doesn’t Voldemort have a nose? It’s truly grotesque to look at, and not like a cool bad-guy facial scar or other nasty disfigurement. It’s just plain ugly. As such, Voldemort has never been a bad guy to quietly root for or identify with.
SPOILER alert – there is a genuinely sad moment at the end when Dobby, the little troll-like house elf, dies. He's perhaps my favourite character in the whole series. Tear.
Apologies to all Harry Potter fans for this extremely cheeky review. I’m genuinely glad I’m the only one who doesn’t really get it.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Entertainment.