Monday, November 22, 2010

Man on Film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

As I briefly mentioned ages ago, one could hardly call me a fan of these movies.  The first two were utter failures--Chris Columbus's direction was awful.  Maybe kids enjoyed them, but there was nothing in them for adults, and I was of legal drinking age when TSLF dragged me to the first one.  Once Alfonso Cuarón took the reins in The Prisoner of Azkaban, the series was rebranded.  Cuarón's successors, Mike Newell and especially David Yates, have continued on following his example, and the results have been mostly good.  Yes, the series is still a bit hokey at times, but it has gotten slightly more adult as the characters have aged. 

Now, as I mentioned in the aforelinked article, TSLF had some concerns upon finding out that the final installment of the series was being split into two parts.  The primary concern lied with the fact that nothing happens in the first half of the last book*.  If the final book were to be split in to, it would stand to reason that it would be split roughly in the middle.  What does that mean for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1?

*For the record, I have not nor do I intend to read any of the books.  I have bigger fish to fry. 


Camping movie.


So for 153 minutes of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and now 146 minutes of The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 essentially nothing has happened.  Think of it like a really long Empire Strikes Back.  Now as we all know, that doesn't equate to it being bad necessarily.  In the case of Empire, much of its worth is tied directly to the fact that George Lucas's involvement in the film did not include either a screenwriting or directing credit, but that doesn't mean that it isn't similar in spirit to this film.  Both are penultimate build-ups to what should be a huge ending.  Fortunately, there will be no goddamn Ewoks in Part 2.  Unfortunately, no gold bikini, unless I'm reading this series entirely incorrectly.

As for the cast, well, we all know what they're bringing to the table.  Daniel Radcliffe brings this...  

Emma Watson is cute and pulls off bookish well.  The kid (or dude, now, I guess) who plays Ron* does that thing that he does.

*His name--and yes, I had to check the credits for this--is Rupert Grint.

And it's all fine and good. 

It's just nothing really happens.  If you go to movies as much as I do, this probably won't bother you too much.  In an eight-film series, 299 minutes isn't really that much time in which nothing happens.  Hell, nothing really happened in the entire second season of Lost.

Now, if the ultimate installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 blows ass, then you'll be dealing with a camper almost as unhappy as Peter Johansen after the finale of BSG, but until then I'm willing to allow for this to have been the longest camping movie ever.

For me to not be irritated at the fact that not much happened meant that Yates & Co. pulled off what they aimed for.  Some of the best movies ever (Rear Window comes to mind) have virtually nothing happen and succeed because of the masterful building tension.  Deathly Hallows One is no Rear Window, but for the most part it works in spite of the fact that very little happens.  In that regard, kudos, David Yates.  Kudos.
Weird Side Note:  I was totally weirded out by the fact that the only song on the soundtrack was "O Children" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  I bet he never thought that a bunch of nerdy kids who love magic were going to discover his music via the Harry Potter franchise.

Yes, this Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds:

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