I spent the afternoon at the (packed) Odeon Leicester Square with Evil Alex and Stephen, to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
. And was it ever chaos getting in - although we were in our seats not that
long after the 2:10pm programme start, for once the half an hour of ads and trailers was necessary, as it took that long for everyone to pile through the doors and find their way. Still, as usual going for the more expensive West End cinema worked out, as everyone there has paid just as much, were fans of the films, and didn't spend the whole time phoning/texting/chatting. So, a quick review of the film:
Well it's a long one - 2 and a half hours, I had to take a pee break about halfway through. It's also probably the most faithful to the books since Chris Columbus left the franchise. As a result it's all very well done but a bit tiring and, if you remember the book, you'll know that being faithful to the first half involves camping scenes that go on forever. It's also very heavy on exposition, in this case even more so than the book because little things that got cut out of the earlier films have had to be slotted in as well. Dobby has to be reintroduced, because he was last seen on film in Chamber of Secrets
so bringing him back suddenly and expecting people to care when he dies is a bit much. As it turns out though the film does a good job of emulating one of J.K. Rowling's more impressive feats, namely making a moving scene out of the death of a character not many people like.
Of course, this is the darkest film yet, certainly justifying the decision to play up the comedy in Half-Blood Prince
given this was what was coming next. There are
some bits of comedy here, noticeably in Ron's attempts to get back in Hermione's good books after he deserts her and Harry for several weeks. The jokes got huge laughs although I think there's an element of gratitude for a bit of light in all the darkness.
Of the new faces in the cast, Rhys Ifans has had to go Irish as Xeno Lovegood so as to match Evanna Lynch's Luna; perhaps to make up for this, Bill Nighy's Rufus Scrimgeour is very Welsh. Briefly, then he's very dead. But he does get to open the film so the delay in finally getting Nighy into these films hasn't been totally wasted. Plus Kate Fleetwood gets to be interrogated by Dolores Umbridge, so once again I got to jab Evil Alex in the ribs and tell him I was in a play with her once, and that this makes me
awesome, not just the person who's actually in the film. As ever there's the odd additional scene but not as many of them as usual. There's a scene on the Hogwarts Express featuring Cormac and Neville, possibly just so they can justify sending Freddie Stroma and Matt Lewis off to be the special guest at the more far-flung premieres the main stars don't want to go to. On the other hand Steve Kloves and David Yates can't be fans of redemption arcs: Both Dudley's and Kreacher's are cut. Snape's, on the other hand, is totally given away in case there was anyone left who didn't know he was going to turn out to be a goodie: Rickman's face as soon as he spots the Hogwarts teacher who's being tortured by Voldemort gives away that he's not entirely enjoying being a Death Eater.
When reading the book everyone noticed how Rowling had Harry's clothes fall off him every five minutes; if anything the film has added to these (was it ever specified in the book that Ron's horcrux-nightmare versions of Harry and Hermione were naked? They are here.) Given all the headline-courting interviews DanRad's given about Emma Watson's limpet-like kissing technique I take it they actually filmed this scene and then presumably digitally altered it so they looked like the unconvincing digital version of themselves from the computer games. So I'm not sure why they didn't just make unconvincing digital versions in the first place. And unusually for a family film, espeically a Hollywood one, the numerous topless scenes have acknowledged the existence of puberty, so DanRad has not been required to wax his chest. I guess the "but you're playing a 17-year-old" argument wouldn't fly, given he actually was
17 in those Equus
publicity pics. On the downside, he's been given a haircut that makes him look like a lesbian. You win some, you lose some.
There's a nice, slightly Tim Burtonesque cartoon in the telling of the "Tale of the Two Brothers" which makes for a clever visual break in such a long film; and generally a lot of good touches that don't really disguise how episodic and exposition-heavy this half of the book is. I don't think this was ever going to be one of the best films, and the second half of this book was always the strongest part. There's some good action sequences though and the showing was made, for me, by sitting next to a little old lady who was clearly loving it, jumping out of her seat at the scary bits (almost out of her skin when Nagini attacks the audience,) giggling and chuckling at the funny bits and whispering to her husband things like "how many Horcruxes is it now?" It'll keep us going until Part 2 this summer, anyway.