November 20, 2010 -- This is easily the most disappointing movie in the Harry Potter series, and it is all because the franchise owners got greedy and milked it for more hundreds of millions of dollars instead of just delivering the complete story from the book in a single film. This takes the luster off a franchise which had been competently managed until now. This English story is like English food: bland, colorless and boring. It will, however, satisfy those who want the movie to be nothing more than a sort of illustrated version of one part of J.K. Rowling's book. Sorry, I'm not part of that cult.
The movie is also a bit like Chinese food. It seems filling enough at the time, but it doesn't really satisfy the hunger very long. I left this film with the firm realization I had just witnessed a big, fat, nothing of a film. It is half an hour's worth of plot stretched out to last nearly two and a half hours (running time an interminable 146 minutes). There is only one reason the film was made this way: to make more money for the Harry Potter franchise. Why make one film when you can split the book in two and make two movies out of it and collect twice the money? After all, look at the Twilight movies. They provide proof positive you don't have to make good movies to make oceans of money. Since this is only half a story, theaters ought to let us in to the movie for half price.
In this film, Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe), along with his friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), are on the trail of the Horcruxes, objects that carry the soul of Lord Voldemort (played by Ralph Fiennes). Destruction of these Horcruxes is the only way to defeat the powerful evil wizard Voldemort. There are seven Horcruxes, but only one is the subject of this film. There are also the Deathly Hallows, which are also objects, and one of those is located in this film also. There is a great deal of tromping around and camping out in the woods, interspersed with a few battles with the bad guys. Not much actually happens. Instead there is a lot of brooding, whining, complaining and squabbling. The color palette of the film is decidedly muted. The mood is sombre at best, although there is a nice dance scene between Harry and Hermione. Other than that, there is not much to lighten the mood. The plot is one long, boring slog to nowhere. Yes, that reflects what is in this section of the book, but that is absolutely no excuse for this.
The acting is good and the special effects are up to the usual high standards of this series. There are also some action scenes, that is, people pointing magic wands at each other while shouting latin. The film manages to salvage what little action there is in the part of the book from which it is derived. It is the rest of the story, what there is of it, that lets us down. A couple of minor characters are killed. One of these, who I thought was one of the more interesting characters, is actually killed off screen. What's with that? Why is this important scene missing in a movie where not much happens? The person is reported dead and the reaction of the other characters is, oh, that's very sad, like everything else in this film. I guess we'll have to wait for the deleted scenes on the DVD to see this, if then. This is a dull, colorless, relentlessly downbeat story. Another thing it lacks is a conclusion, a resolution of the final conflict. We're going to have to wait until next summer for that. This film rates a C. Undoubtedly, Hallows, part two, will be much better. At least let's hope so.
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