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Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

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As the most eagerly awaited film of 2010 hit cinemas across the globe over the weekend, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (HPDH Part 1) proved it is worth its money-making salt, producing a magical $61 million on Friday alone. The incredible opening takings for HPDH Part 1 have even topped the franchise's predecessor, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009), which came in just short with $58 million.

Harry PotterThere is nothing I could say about HPDH Part 1 that would put off any die-hard Potter fanatics from going to see the film, but to be honest, there is not much bad to say about it anyway! From beginning to untimely end (or for want of a better word, pause), the movie is everything you would want it to be. Balancing humour and action effortlessly, while taking an extended tug on the old heartstrings, director David Yates has really pulled it out of the bag with the first half of the finale.

In terms of content, the film is the truest to the book of all the series, leaving very little behind. My only quibble with it is that Yates did not seem to anticipate how much of the information in the seventh book is important, and that a sizeable chunk of it needed to be set up as well. As an avid reader of all the novels and a self confessed Potter-ite, it was easy for me to understand what was happening at the points in the film that lacked the backstory necessary for them to make sense. For example, Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding at the Burrow has no explanation to it in the film, and therefore seems out of place and random. However, the narrative still flows smoothly and keeps you entertained throughout.

Character wise, all the old favourites are back: Lupin and Tonks; Mad-Eye Moody; Luna Lovegood; Dobby; Mr Malfoy; and of course the triple alliance of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint). The trio's performances in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Chris Columbus, 2001) seem a million miles away from HPDH Part 1.

Setting the tone and opening with the heart wrenching scene in which Hermione has to erase her parents memories of her, Watson has definitely progressed as an actress. It is clear that she is feeling the same pain as Hermione is during this scene and I vow to find one person who did not shed a tear at this point. Radcliffe also proves to be a worthy Potter when Dobby is killed by Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter). Coupled with the overwhelming sadness and realisation that this event marked the end of the first half of... well, the end of the Harry Potter phenomenon, the tears just would not stop coming!

As for Rupert Grint, it was clear from the start that he was born to play Ron Weasley. Providing welcome comic relief and also the strongest acting talent of the three, his performance in the film is even better than ever before. The chemistry between Hermione and Ron is obvious, and the pair play it out to perfection.

Yates' directorial skills have grown as the Potter films have. HPDH Part 1 is by far his best yet, and it is only a matter of time until we see his imagining of the finale of franchise. A word of warning however...Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is not for the faint hearted. If you walk into the cinema expecting a lovely happy ending, you will be disappointed. The film is like a snowball of emotion, getting bigger and bigger the further into it you get. In my opinion, this aspect of the narrative makes it a truly brilliant movie. The drama just keeps unfolding as Part 1 draws closer to an end.

Furthermore, be prepared for one of the most frustrating cinema experiences of recent years (on a par with Christopher Nolan's ending to Inception). Following the loss of everyone's favourite house-elf, Dobby, the film cross cuts and cranes in on the island where Dumbledore is buried. From this point the music can be heard building up, an unstoppable crescendo that marks the end that nobody wants to happen. Embarrassingly I vented my frustration in a loud "No!" when I saw the first credit appear on screen.

HPDH Part 1 is definitely the best Potter so far. I highly recommend it to all, whether you have read the books or not, and it is well worth the price of the cinema ticket. Only one question remains: How on earth are we all going to last until July 2011 for the final installment?

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