The excitement of seeing a Harry Potter film in 3-D died several weeks ago when Warner Bros announced it was not happy with the 3-D version. Even then, as was the case with the previous films in the series, The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year. It is expected to make over $900 million at the world box office, and find a place among the top 2010 releases.
David Yates who directed two previous Harry Potter films -- The Half-Blood Prince and The Order of the Phoenix -- has directed the new venture. He has also directed the second part of Deathly Hallows, which will release in 3-D in 2011.
Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, claims that he isn't playing lead just for the money and fame. 'The intricacy of the plot Jo (novelist JK Rowling) has mapped out from the beginning is a fantastic feat of storytelling,' he confesses in the press book. 'It has twists and turns, mystery and romance, comedy and action... all the brilliant things people have responded to over the years.'
As for the final Harry Potter book being released as two films, he echoes the thoughts of scriptwriter Steve Kloves, who felt to do justice to the book and its many subplots, there had to be two films.
The new film offers many story twists and an intriguing revelation about the legend of Deathly Hallows that die hard fans and even casual moviegoers will have fun with.
Director Yates points out that this is the first Harry Potter film that does not even show the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 'We are away from the magical environment of Hogwarts,' Yates says. 'Suddenly Harry, Ron and Hermione are trying to survive out in the big, bad world, and they feel isolated and alone and very vulnerable. It makes the adventure much edgier and more grownup, which really appealed to me, and the actors, too.'
Radcliffe echoes Yates: 'I think it gives the film a more adult tone because it is harder to see us school kids when we are no longer at school.'
The scriptwriter, and the director also point out that some of the dramatic revelations in the film are set in such a way that even those who have read the book may be surprised by the way they unfold.
The final two movie chapters in the saga reveal that Albus Dumbledore, a mentor to Harry, is a much more of a flawed person than some had suspected. 'The more Harry finds out about Dumbledore that he had not known or that he feels had been kept from him,' Radcliffe muses. 'the more his trust is eroded.'
Yates says the crisis of faith is one of the more intriguing subplots in the movie. 'What makes it doubly difficult for him is that Dumbledore gave him this mission without a clear plan -- or really any idea at all -- of how to fulfill it, which is putting his friends in jeopardy. It leads to real test of their relationship, which is another interesting element of the story.'
'The two films that make up The Deathly Hallows feel like two very different films,' Yates told The Telegraph in London last week. 'The films are from the same book but the first part does feel very much like a road movie.'
The new installment may surprise those who have read the book carefully. While it is still being faithful to the book, the latest Harry Potter adventure offers many plot twists that may suddenly come from nowhere.
The film's early reviews have been mixed.
'(David) Yates achieves his most resonant effects not with wizards' duels or Harry's painful visions (of which there are plenty to go around), but with lingering silences and moments of privileged intimacy; one standout passage, in which the titular Deathly Hallows are explained, makes extended use of animation that's quite unlike anything else in the films so far,' Variety, the influential trade publication, declared, adding: 'Yates is destined to be the filmmaker most associated with the franchise by virtue of having helmed more installments than anyone else, and if his work has never quite reclaimed the poetic heights of Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he has guided at least three of four films with a gravely elegant hand.'
The new film is long and doesn't whip up enough dramatic tension, said The Sydney Morning Herald.
'...From the same director, whose previous two 'Potter' films have been outstanding,' wrote The Sydney Morning Herald. 'The problems here are largely dramatic -- the film has no satisfying arc of story, no sense of light and dark. It's necessarily a bridging film, but it never solves the technical problems of pace and exposition. It substitutes action for drama: Never has it been necessary to have a car chase, but this one does. At 146 minutes, it is a long time to sit through something so gloomy, as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and pals watch their world collapsing.'
The real verdict will come on Sunday when Warner Bros will release the worldwide box office numbers. The past performance of Harry Potter films indicate the new film might earn more than $225 million in its first three days, and even recoup its mammoth $150 million production cost and will have a bumper journey leading into the new year.
Deathly Hallows, which opens worldwide this week, will be playing on some 12,000 screens across the world within a week.