This is it. The penultimate installment of the worldwide phenomenon and the series of a generation. It is not only a tremendously popular franchise but also stood as the childhood companion of millions all over the globe. So after more than a decade of magic and sorcery, we have finally come to the beginning of the end.
And it couldn't have been better. I just knew it was going to be a good movie, even great. And I was not disappointed.
"These are dark times, there is no denying."
From the very first line, I knew this was not the usual child-oriented movie the public has always affiliated Harry Potter with. Gone were the friendly halls of Hogwarts and fluffy snow owls in the Great Hall. In fact, we didn't even see a shadow of Hogwarts, just spectacular mountainside views that could serve as an ad for British Tourism.
Watching the trio of Harry, Hermione and Ron grow throughout these years, it's amazing to see how far they've come. Hermione (Emma Watson), from a stuck-up, by-the-books nerd has transformed into an intelligent and capable wizard who the two will most likely be lost without. I particularly applaud this heartfelt scene in the beginning where she was shown to have erased herself from her parents' memories as a precautionary measure against Voldemort's possible advances against those that she loves.
Rupert Grint portrayal of Ron is as seamless as ever. Not only was he responsible for most of the comic reliefs of the film, of all the films actually, he was successful in showing the depth of his character; Ron's strength, courage and his love for his friends. When I was reading the book, I was so moved with the Horcruxe scene with the images of locket Harry and locket Hermione locking their lips together to the jealousy and anger of a bewildered Ron. Amazingly, the movie version did not disappoint.
Geek Mode: Although I loved the precise and hauntingly beautiful recreation of the scene, I noticed that they left out Harry's line when he said to Ron, and I quote:
"She's like my sister," he went on. "I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It's always been like that. I thought you knew."
Reading the book, it is absolutely positive that Hermione and Ron will end up with each other, but with the movies, there are more Harry and Hermione slightly romantic scenes than I am comfortable with. Enter the movie-only wilderness dance between the two in the absence of Ron. I think David Yates is a H/Hr shipper.
Brilliant character development aside (Bellatrix and Voldemort were portrayed perfectly by the way), there are loads for those who just want to watch the movie for the cinematic thrills. Being a self-proclaimed road movie, the film takes us to various places and into a multitude of situations, a feat never seen before in any of the previous Harry Potter films since they are mostly shot at a Hogwarts set. For those who have not read the books, it is still an excellent adventure movie with wizard-eating-snakes, Dementors and curses in every other scene.
Geek Mode: Speaking of scenes, there are some which I would prefer to have been part of the film.
- One is Harry's farewell to the Dursleys. It might have been a minor scene in the book, relatively unimportant but I felt that it would be proper to give the family a proper exit, as with the novel. Dudley's change of heart, I would like to see that.
- Second, Kreacher's Tale. I was surprised that so few (those who haven't read the book) asked the back story regarding how the elf knew about the locket and how it arrived at Grimmauld's Place. I guess nobody really cared as long as they get to see some hilarious action at the Ministry of Magic.
- Third, Harry's proper reaction to the destruction of his Phoenix wand. He was like, "What? Oh it's fine, Hermione give me your wand." I mean, losing the twin core, his only protection against Voldemort., that deserves a bit more expression than blatant apathy.
As for the well talked about split, I think the producers made a marvelous decision on where to end Part 1. There is a definitive beginning and end to the movie that will not leave the feeling of loose ends but rather an insatiable anticipation for the next, the last, the ultimate final installment.
Geek Mode: Almost 3/4 of the Deathly Hallows book was already included in this first movie. The only scenes missing are the Gringgots robbery and the great battle at Hogwarts. Imagining more than 2 hours of feasting my eyes in the ruins, rubble and final showdown of love vs. evil makes me want to cry.
After 146 minutes...
Even though the film is the first part of a 2-part finale, it surprisingly can stand on its own. The story progress in rapid action-filled sequences, perfectly orchestrated to keep the audience on their toes. The alternating scenes of character/backdrop-oriented montages and edge-of-your-seat chase scenes building up to an explosive and endearing resolution made up this almost perfect rendition of J.K. Rowling's best novel to date.