After almost a decade the series was coming to an end with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1. The decision to split the last adaptation into two parts was sceptically criticised as milking the cash cow, while others felt that two films would better serve the story justice. They both had their valid arguments.
Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is dead and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) finds himself with a new mission. Track down the Horcruxes than contain Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul and destroy them. His mentor may be gone, but he still has Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), but the Horcrux takes a terrible toll on its bearer, poisoning their mind. The trio take turns wearing the cursed necklace until they can find a means to destroy it but until they can they must resist the urge to slowly turn on each other.
Despite starting off strongly, this is a relatively weak entry to the series. Harry, Ron and Hermione’s cross country trek takes up most of the film and offers little. Grint is brilliant as the jealous Ron, his troubled psyche starts to fracture the longer he’s exposed to the Horcrux. The infighting creates some great tension but it quickly fizzles away. The less said about Harry and Hermione’s impromptu dance the better. Quite simply, it’s awkward and cringe worthy offering nothing to the relationships of our protagonists.
Thankfully the film kicks back into gear in the third act. There are some fantastic set-pieces that inject the action and magic back into the film while we’re giving a further glimpse into a world where Voldemort is in power. The parallels to real life oppressive regimes are more than subtle, packing an emotive punch that highlights how much the series has evolved since the colourful world of The Philosopher’s Stone.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 could have benefitted from trimming in areas. It’s understandable what the filmmakers are going for, leaving all the best parts for Part 2. Unfortunately we don’t get to reap these rewards just yet. There’s plenty of heartbreak to be had as important characters die including one that will test the resolve of the stoniest of hearts.
Did The Deathly Hallows need to be split into two parts? Probably not, however despite Part 1’s weaknesses it remains an impressive teaser of what’s to come, ramping up the anciptation and plucking on the heart strings.