Sukanya Verma reviews Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. Post YOUR reviews here!
Growing up with a series, especially a fantasy can be quite an intimate experience. Gratifying because of the spectacular adventures it unfolds, changing its course through the years, as well as heartbreaking for it's not permanent.
After all, what can be more emotional than seeing the improbable turn true even if it's just a timeless tale of good vs evil told with a bright new perspective in a fictional universe around ingenious characters and creatures? Be it Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Shrek or Harry Potter, even though they belong to varying degrees of drama and genre, the extraordinary bond produced between these cinematic volumes and the wide-eyed viewer is one and the same -- wonderful to encounter, impossible to explain and painful to let go.
As a subscriber of this school of thought, I stepped out to see the screen adaptation of J K Rowling's seventh and final book in the series -- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 with a mix of 'OMG, I am watching Harry Potter three days before its nationwide release' and 'Sigh, this is *almost* it' enveloping my being.
On account of its sprawling content, the makers decided to split the novel into two movies. While this is simply practical and profitable for franchise expanding studio sharks but where fans are concerned, this reads as yet another year of Potter-filled flurry. So, woo hoo!
Speaking of which, there's a plenty to cheer about in the latest installment. Director David Yates returns to helm the further murky tones of the story as it meets it part-climax wherein key protagonists deal with adolescence issues coupled with their impatient hunt for horcruxes, enchanted receptacles that store and preserve Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) immortality.
Even though Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his trusty pals -- Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) skip the Hogwarts corridors to tussle against outdoor perils, there's no shortage of breathtaking spells and relentless horror.
Some of the coolest sequences involve a jaw-dropping chase between the death eaters and multiple Harry Potters, the troika's disguised entry and escape from the Ministry of Magic in a bid to steal Salazar Slytherin's locket ,a brilliantly animated interlude narrating 'The Tale of the Three Brothers' and Nagini's petrifying assault on a shell-shocked Harry.
Thankfully, all this, especially the last mentioned bit, does not occur in 3D as previously planned. Be warned, not everyone has the stomach to endure the furious thrills that follow every time Voldemort's enormous snake makes an appearance.
And while Voldemort only shows up during the first and final scene, his towering baritone and intimidating personality more than make up for the break. Fiennes conducts the foul-faced antagonist with such exquisite terror and theatrical charisma; he's assured to earn a seat in the realm of cinema's greatest villains.
As always, a great number of secondary characters, essayed by esteemed British actors, clutter the frames but for those unfamiliar with Rowling's broad database, their sudden entry/exit might seem rather confounding. Those falling under the said category, try to enjoy this like a great, big riddle-solving quest involving three teenagers and several monster-faced obstacles.
Hogwarts teachers like Snape (Alan Rickman) or Umbridge (Stauton) don't grab much screen time unlike the plot's more bizarre creations -- death eater Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter is lusciously ruthless) and Dobby-the elf (a Toby Jones-voiced CGI spectacle, curious and endearing as ever).
Though still awkward when it comes to communicating lovey-dovey sentiments, the young trio of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson shares a rare camaraderie, which is far too compelling to dismiss as commonplace. Of the three, Watson, an enviable blend of vulnerable and fiery, continues to be the one to look out for.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, even in its unfinished state, is masterfully structured into three acts that fulfills the expectations of action-packed wizardry without neglecting the fragile core that lends the film its true soul. I'd go to the extent of calling it the best one in the series.
Having witnessed the progression of Harry, Ron and Hermione from squabbling children to definitive individuals, Yates understands the need to explain the blossoming of the three friends, their fragile equations, bubbling insecurities and everlasting bond through a tenderly executed middle half against a gorgeously stark backdrop.
The symbolism isn't lost on the discerning viewer. If at all it only adds to the anticipation and promise of a memorable grand finale.Rediff Rating: