These are dark times, There is no denying.
Since casting a spell over a generation in mid 1997 the Harry Potter franchise has seen seven novels and seven (soon to be eight) films. When creating the films the production company made the conscious decision to choose the, then child, actors on their likeness to the characters rather than their acting ability. The lacking performances could at first be put down to the innocence and inexperience of youth, but now that the actors have aged the subsequent leniency of critics has disapparated. Over the years the actors, some quite literally, have grown in to their roles turning out increasingly strong performance each film. The turning point for the series came about with the release of its fourth venture, The Goblet of Fire (2005), which exposed the developing potential of the actors and since then the films have become progressively stronger.
Throughout the series our ever present heroes, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) have remained the closest friends, but The Deathly Hallows Part One (2010) sees a change to this as tempers begin to flair. The performances from Radcliffe and Watson are adequate, but both are once again surpassed by the ginger haired and now muscular Grint.
The young actors careers they have been surrounded by legends of British cinema the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs among many, many others. It is almost inevitable that these actors would have performed to the highest of standards and they continue to turn out increasingly brilliant performances. Even the actors who are new to the wizarding world, most notably Rhys Ifans as the zany Xenophilius Lovegood, reach these standards. The expertise of these highly rated stars seems to have influenced the trio and is most likely the strongest reason why the actors are progressing.
The films biggest problem, and the whole series, originates from the source material. JK Rowling, whose descriptions and action writing rival the tremendous JRR Tolkien, isn’t capable of writing convincing dialogue. Countless times during the film the dialogue is either weak or far too on the nose.
The Deathly Hallows Part One is completely different to every other film so far in the series. Everything in the young wizards lives has flipped, nowhere is safe, they are constantly on the run and fearful of being caught by the Snatchers. The film includes a vast amount of locations from the Forest of Dean to an all night cafe. The problem with this is that it seems that a quarter of the film is setting up new location after new locations all of which seem to require tediously long establishing shots.
From intense action sequences to emotional ‘bring a tissue’ scenes the narrative of The Deathly Hallows Part One is the best in the series so far. The film seems to find the perfect balance between sticking true to the source material and adapting it for film. None scene exemplifies this more than the fantastic animated short directed by Ben Hibon, that is injected in to accompany Hermione’s voice over of The Tale of Three Brothers (2010).
Most of the film is spent on the run with Harry, Ron and Hermione as they attempt to track down the remaining Horcruxes. Being sure to maintain a low profile so they don’t get caught by Voldemort’s Snatchers, they move often move locations. The problem which is brought about by this is that a lot of the film is spent introducing the new location and unfortunately the tediously long establishing shots do nothing more than slow the films pace to a crawl.
A weighty film which, although being half an hour too long, at first seems nothing more than a set up for the finale could end up being the finest in the series. Aside from lengthy introductions the film is otherwise impeccably shot, but let down by average performances from the lesser actors; Radcliffe and Watson, and put in their place by stellar performances from the rest of the ensemble. The film however is a far cry from “Harry Potter: The Road Movie”; crudely put by Empire. The Deathly Hallows Part One gets 7/10. Bring on Part II.