‘Deathly Hallows: Part I’ a middle experience

By Drew Hunt

Between the copious amounts of merchandise, a state-of-the art theme park and a worldwide following—and the billions of dollars made in between—it’s safe to say there is no such thing as a casual Harry Potter fan. Adapted from the popular children’s books, the Potter film series proved to be among the most lucrative movie franchises in Hollywood, drawing on the hysteria surrounding the novels the films are based on.

However, there lies an interesting dichotomy in “Potterdom.” Despite the billions these films have made, most fans would express vehement disapproval of their apparent lack of success in adequately transferring the books to the screen. This effect is truly Pavlovian: Almost assuredly, the nerdy message board flamer who degraded the previous installment in the series lined up outside his local Cineplex at midnight of the film’s release, ready for another go-around.

So the question becomes, “How exactly does David Yates, director of the latest offering, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I,’ and the two previous films, stand a chance against what can only be described as a ravenous mob of unruly geeks who are seemingly impossible to please?”

The answer: he doesn’t.

But an objective viewer can easily ascertain, for the most part, the “Harry Potter” films have been pretty decent. Save Alfonso Cuaron’s moody, somber offering “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the films are entirely run of the mill—but not necessarily to their detriment. Despite rotating directors, the series has remained consistent mostly thanks to its casting. For the most part, the entire principal cast has remained intact, which allows for a coherent and piecemeal narrative. But it’s a different narrative than the books. This is, again, apparently a major issue.

Oh, well.

In “Deathly Hallows: Part I,” Harry, Ron and Hermione (played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, respectively) are tasked with destroying what are known as “horcruxes”—objects that house the fragmented soul of the series’ main villain, Lord Voldemort. Once they complete the task, Voldemort can finally be vanquished and everyone can live happily ever after.

Because the film is the first half of the book—something Potter fans have misinterpreted as Warner Bros.’ attempt to adapt the book more faithfully when in reality, it’s simply a ploy to make more money, a lot of things are left to resolve after it ends. This is somewhat of a departure from the rest of the films that have wrapped their individual stories up tidily, despite its sequel waiting in the wings.

Other than this minor deviation, “Deathly Hallows: Part I” is your typical Harry Potter film. It’s extremely sleek—well shot and filled to the brim with some visually thrilling computer generated images. The decision to abandon a planned 3-D conversion was undoubtedly to the film’s benefit. Absolutely nothing would have been gained in employing the technology, especially considering it wasn’t shot in 3-D to begin with. The film stands on its own legs and is every bit as successful as its non-2-D predecessors.

But while there’s not much to dislike about the film, there’s also not a whole lot to praise either. It may be unfair to judge an eight-part film franchise as growing complacent as it nears its completion, but that doesn’t save the fact that Harry Potter has seemingly worn out his welcome. When your biggest fans can’t even walk away pleased, it’s probably time to throw in the towel.

That towel will drop when “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” pisses everyone off in the spring.