Film review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Will you be spellbound?

IT is the beginning of the end of the Potter saga – and Potter 6.5 is a rather different proposition to the previous episodes.

There is no Hogwarts in this one (hooray) and a greater concentration on the three young leads (hmm).

It’s a magnificent piece of film-making (in some ways the best of the lot), but a crummy bit of storytelling.

After some bland early efforts, the series has gradually developed a strong, distinctive visual style and this is the best looking one yet.

It helps greatly that this film isn’t tied to the school. Instead, the leads go off on a big camping trip, so the film takes in lots of great British locations and there are some superb set pieces.

It’s not a spectacle of Avatar proportions, but at least it’s something new, rather than generic variations of what you’ve seen loads of times before.

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But then there’s the plot. In this one, Harry and the rest of the Famous Three are still reeling from the death of Gandalf and must now find the sword Excalibur and a series of powerful artifacts with the help of Gollum as they try to defeat Darth Vader. But, apart from the bits borrowed from other stories, I had very little idea what was going on.

The decision to split the final term and the resultant extended running time allows them to do something more than the skim-read adaptation of previous films, which isn’t always a blessing.

This one is even more alienating and confusing for the casual viewer who hasn’t read Rowling’s tomes.

There’s so much information to take in and little help in deciding which of it might matter.

There’s an interrupted wedding scene early on in the film, although I couldn’t tell you who was getting married or even if they did get married. Harry has his little sweetheart, but once he and his two pals are off in the woods she is completely forgotten.

Just about everybody in current possession of an Equity card is in this, but almost none of them get more than two scenes and everybody has some bit of exposition to deliver.

It is like some great generational family get-together in which nobody can go for more than a minute without raking up some story of who did what to whom way back when and then what so-and-so did to what’s-his-name-whose-name-cannot-be-mentioned and on and on until you are begging them to just get on to one of the thrilling sequences where they point sticks at one another.