Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 (2010)

Rated: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality.
Length: 146 minutes
Grade: C,C,C,D=C-
Rotten Tomatoes: 79% favorable, 7.1/10 average
Budget: $250 million
Box Office: $1.017 Billion (295 U.S., 660 Intl., 62 DVD)

Written by: Steve Kloves (All 7 HP movies, plus Wonder Boys, Fabulous Baker Boys, and Racing with the Moon), based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Directed by: David Yates (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint
With: Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, and Helena Bonham Carter

In this prelude to the final Harry Potter movie, there is all-out war among the wizards, with the Ministry of Magic being dominated by the forces under Voldemort’s control and a bounty on Harry Potter’s head. To turn the tide and destroy their enemy, Harry, Hermioine, and Ron try to stay alive and find the horcruxes in which Voldemort has stored the pieces of his soul.

It may not be fair for a non-reader of the book series to comment on this movie since it is so clearly a prequel to the next and final film. But I have a bone to pick with this one in particular. Even though I have never been blown away by any of the other films, always giving them B-range grades if I remember correctly, each of them has also been fairly satisfying in its own way. Not this time. First of all, the sequence of events just keeps going on and on and on without much real explanation and certainly without any sense of fulfillment. Second, precisely because this feels very much like an effort to cram eight hundred pages of rich action into just two films, it doesn’t even pretend to help the non-reader like me. And third, even with all the cramming, somehow they managed to precisely overcompensate and keep it tremendously slow nevertheless. Plus, all the business about who carries the device and its corrupting influence on them just felt so completely derivative of the Lord of the Rings.

Discussion Questions:
~The key difference between the evil wizards and the good ones seems to be their view of the justified use of their powers. The good ones view muggles (ordinary humans) as people with value and rights who should be protected and served with magic, but the evil ones view them as an impediment or a sub-species to be used or eradicated without consideration. How does this distinction fit with the proper relationship between people who have power, wealth, and privilege and those who do not in our own society? What happens when the caretakers don’t care about the ordinary people? How do these views match with the Bible’s ideas about how Christians should treat non-Christians?

Overall Grade: C-
I will watch the final movie, but it better pay off because at this point I already feel like I’m only continuing on habit rather than enthusiasm.

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