Part 1 of ‘Potter’ finale runs in place, slowly

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, November 18, 2010 7:50am
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Seven books from “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling; and now the seventh film. But not so fast with the closing testimonials there, Bub.

The seventh book was deemed too massive in scope for a single release, so here’s the penultimate chapter in the movie saga, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.” Surely this is the only time in movie history that a “Part 7” has been called “Part 1.”

As the movies have gone on, it has become increasingly clear that this is really a long-form series, not a bunch of separate films. So as usual, no attempt is made at the beginning of “Deathly Hallows” to catch us up on previous installments.

The early going of this one (which like most of the previous films was adapted by Steve Kloves) barrages us with characters, dire allusions and significant glances. The boy wizard and “chosen one” has left Hogwarts. In fact, as evocative as that location has been, it’s refreshing to have some new places to see in this movie.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is now being hunted in earnest by the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes); there’s no waiting around through academic terms or any of that nonsense any more.

In a cool early sequence, Harry is replicated a dozen or so times, and the shape-shifting continues later when Harry and pals Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) take the forms of adults in order to infiltrate an underground worker’s hive that looks like something out of “Metropolis.”

For large parts of the film, the three friends are wandering through various forests and moors, in a strange sort of morose exile. The film is so slow, yet so packed with meaningful portents, that at times it resembles a European art picture from the 1960s or something.

Because “Harry Potter” is one long megafilm designed for fans, the individual titles don’t have to behave like regular movies: There’s no need to keep things moving or do a great summing-up.

Director David Yates shies away from big emotional moments, save for a bit of heroics from computer-generated Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones). At this point Yates is less a director than a manager, herding the elements into place.

It’s difficult to rate “Deathly Hallows,” because it’s not for casual filmgoers, and it doesn’t seek to be a self-contained night at the movies. It has odd elements (some significant events happen offscreen and Yates has a peculiar way of backing important characters into scenes so that we barely notice they’re present), although imaginative touches decorate this world, as before.

The incredibly crowded cast returns folks such as Brendan Gleeson, Alan Rickman, and Robbie Coltrane. The newcomers include Bill Nighy and Rhys Ifans, thus proving that every recognizable British actor will be employed in this series before it is over.

“Deathly Hallows” moves the tale along, and yet it also feels like a place-holder. We can assume that “Part 7 Part 2” will deliver the long-awaited summing-up.

Talk to us

More in Life

Jerry Wennstrom with “Lightning,” a multi-layered sculpture. Wennstrom’s second body of artistic work consists of several tall, wooden sculptures resembling women that are meant to represent complex themes of birth and death, good and evil, femininity and masculinity. (David Welton)
Meet a Whidbey sculptor who makes interactive, eccentric art

Jerry Wennstrom publishes a book detailing his artistic body of work, which emphasizes feminine figures.

FILE - This 1972 file photo shows Elvis Presley during a performance. The AP reported on July 14, 2017, that a story claiming a dead homeless man in San Diego was identified as Presley is a hoax. Presley died in 1977. (AP Photo, File)
Who was cooler: Elvis or the Beatles?

It depends on which generation you ask — but don’t ask the author’s kids. They’re into Nirvana.

Even if you haven’t watered your landscape in the past 100 days, or watered very little, get outside and give your plants a good soak. (Getty Images)
It’s dry out there, so water your yard — please!

After 100 days of no precipitation, your garden badly needs a drink. So grab a hose and get to work — it’s well worth the slightly higher water bills.

The fortified ghost town of Vathia, on Greece’s Mani Peninsula, was once as wild as our Wild West.
Rick Steves: The best way to spend two weeks in Greece

The nation’s true joy and character can be found outside of touristy Athens and the islands.

The all-new Kia Sportage X-Pro model comes standard with all-terrain tires and 17-inch matte black off-road wheels. (Kia)
2023 Kia Sportage has two new models aimed at the outdoorsy

The X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige have all-terrain tires, all-wheel drive, and all kinds of ground clearance.

Women came from all over the Pacific Northwest to “glamp” and raise money to send girls to Girl Scout Camp from Sept. 16-18. The next opportunity to glamp at Camp River Ranch will be Sept. 8-10, 2023. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Women’s glamping retreat raises money to send local girls to camp

I’ve been the camper, the counselor, the Girl Scout leader and the mom. Now, I was the glamper.

Effective discipline: Why rewards work better than punishment

Rewarding positive behavior, whenever it appears, can be a very powerful tool for encouraging cooperation.

Air Canada voucher for $528 has been missing for three months

Where is Herb Sharpe’s $528 flight voucher from Air Canada? He’s been waiting for more than three months, but the airline hasn’t sent it yet.

Abelia 'Edward Goucher' (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’

This shrub blooms from summer to late autumn, which will make the pollinators happy.

What does it mean to be a purveyor of public power?

Next week, The Snohomish County PUD and utilities across the country will celebrate Public Power Week.

This quilt features an American flag with 36 stars, indicating that it was made about 1865. Most antique quilts are harder to date.
Tips for estimating an unsigned vintage quilt’s true age

If you can see dark spots in the quilt when held up to a strong light or sunny window, they may be cotton seeds. Some collectors claim that this means the quilt was made before the invention of the cotton gin in 1793.

Making your own WM truck costume takes only a few supplies and can be recycled when you’re done with it. (Courtesy Waste Management)
Green is the new orange: sustainable Halloween celebrations

Spooky season is here: costumes line the shelves at department stores, and… Continue reading