An Early Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Spoilers ahead.

Maybe it was the rain or complete boredom that drove me to watch the last few Harry Potter films on demand but I’m now eagerly awaiting the release of the last two films in the series. Which is why we’re sharing an early review of the film by a couple of lucky moviegoers in Chicago who were invited to a test screening over the weekend.

I have personally only read one book and seen a handful of the previous six films. Like I said before, there are spoilers in the following two fan reviews and two issues that we’re all hoping get resolved before the first part of the film is released on November 19, 2010. Here’s the first from Coming Soon.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is a great continuation of the series, thematically and visually in line with films 5 and 6. Though it is a fast-paced film, with several nice setpieces and much-improved performances from the young cast, it does suffer from two major problems. First, it faithfully adapts the seventh book, including the book’s own problems. The “camping in the wilderness” scenes become quite repetitive, and the attempts at drama/angst amongst the trio during these scenes comes off as tired. Also, the scenes involving the locket horcrux causing its wearer to be angry/aggressive are far too reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. All three young stars acquit themselves admirably, however, doing the best they can with the material. Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe, in particular, are quite good. The second problem with the film, and this may be fixed by the time the final cut is released, is the editing. Some scenes feel utterly rushed and incoherent (Godric’s Hollow, for example). Others go on for far too long (Ron becomes jealous, etc.). There are several flashes / dream sequences that demonstrate Voldemort’s search for the Elder Wand. These are bizarrely edited and poorly executed. Luckily, they are just a small fraction of the film.

Despite these issues, this was a quality film on par with films 5 and 6, both of which I quite enjoyed. As with those films, the cinematography is beautiful. There are several creative and dramatic shots throughout the film, so that even if one gets bored, you could just stare in awe at the scenery. The beginning of the film is also quite exciting, including some hilarious scenes with multiple “Harry”s, and a series of great action sequences. The visual effects were not completely finished in these sequences, but I imagine it was quite close to what the final version will be. Another effective sequence involves the trio escaping to a small cafe in London, and a resulting fight that involves wands and spells but feels more like a shootout.

The second review comes from The Leaky Cauldron and has been condensed into seven spoilerific points by our friends at io9.

* The current running time for this rough cut was about two and a half hours.
* A unique and innovative animation tells the story of the Deathly Hallows.
* David Barron confirmed that the final split for the film will indeed be when Lord Voldemort takes the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave.
* The Seven Potter sequence features Mr. Radcliffe changing, character by character, as the camera pans around the room. He is left in the original clothes of the character, and with their voice.
* Hedwig does die, returning to the chase sequence to defend Harry from Voldemort.