Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is not just a Harry Potter movie. It very well could have been, and it would have still made a lot of money. Case in point, the minute the theater went dark during the midnight screening on Thursday, there was a symphony of high-pitched screams. But Deathly Hallows goes even further, and takes us into a palpably bleak, tangibly layered world that will reignite some of the feelings that The Dark Knight inspired in us. This is very fine filmmaking for a big budget movie. Cinematic values are not sacrificed in the pursuit of expensive trickery and unnecessary effects, and the animated sequence in the middle is pure genius. Sit back and watch the maturing of the Harry Potter franchise.
The movie starts with the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) informing the wizarding world that Death Eaters are taking control, but the Ministry remains strong. Meanwhile Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) meets up with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and informs him of plans for Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) departure from Privet Drive. The members of The Order of the Phoenix arrive at Privet Drive, and use Polyjuice Potion to create six decoys of Harry so that they can transport him safely. The envoy is ambushed by Death Eaters, and Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) and Hedwig are killed. The rest of the group arrives back at The Burrow. Scrimgeour arrives with Dumbledore’s will and distributes items to Harry, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). He refuses to give Godric Gryffindor’s sword to Harry though, since it is a historical artifact and is lost anyway.
That evening, news reaches them that the Ministry has fallen, and Death Eaters are fast approaching The Burrow, so the trio disapparate to London. They go to 12 Grimmauld Place where they discover that R.A.B is Regulus Arcturus Black, Sirius’ younger brother. They also find out from Kreacher and Mundungus Fletcher (Andy Linden) that the locket is currently in the Ministry of Magic. Using Polyjuice Potion, they manage to steal the locket and barely escape. Ron, while wearing the locket, believes that Harry and Hermione are having a relationship, and he abandons them. Harry and Hermione meanwhile go to Godric’s Hollow, where they are almost killed by Nagini. A doe patronus leads Harry to Gryffindor’s sword, which Ron ultimately destroys. Then the trio visit Xenophilius Lovegood who tells them about the Deathly Hallows (the beautiful animated sequence). The trio are then captured and taken to the Malfoy Manor where Hermione is tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange (Helene Bonham Carter). Dobby, the house-elf, helps them escape, but is killed by Bellatrix in the process. As Harry buries Dobby, Voldemort acquires the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s tomb.
To put it simply, this movie is amazing. The acting is spot-on. Not once does it descend into parody or weary cliché. I believed every one of the actors. The special effects never leave you doubting that there is real magic happening on screen. The cinematography is breathtaking. The editing is beautiful. The sound is very cleverly used. Alexandre Desplat’s score is lovely. David Yates’s direction is thoughtful and inspired. The animated short directed by Ben Hibon is perfect. The screenplay is admirably nuanced. I cannot imagine this movie with even a single frame changed. Steve Kloves manages to showcase the humanity of the book with surprising clarity, somehow managing to elevate the relationships between the characters to the same level as the plot.
This is not a children’s movie franchise anymore. Nor should it be. This is in the same class of PG-13 movies as The Dark Knight. I did have some minor nitpicky problems with this movie. But who cares? Deathly Hallows is a magical experience quite unlike any of the previous Harry Potter movies. I for one can’t wait for Part II to come out. And maybe I’ll go watch Part I again. That’s true entertainment. I highly recommend it.