since I’m the new kid here (though I’ve been
reviewing movies longer than the ages of the Jonas Brothers
combined), I still need to let you know something from the
outset before I begin my thoughts on Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows Part I (whose title sounds suspiciously
close to a certain uneven Mel Brooks movie).
read any of the Potter books. Not a one. I made up my mind
I wanted to see the movie series as a movie series. I still
don’t know who dies — well, who else dies now,
and I don’t want to know. Can you tell I despise spoilers?
Anyway, to the half-movie at hand.
know how you forgive very good friends the occasional shortcoming?
You’ve grown up with them, you’ve spent a lot
of time with them — you just like them, and you cut
them some slack when they slack off a bit.
I’m not saying Potter 7-I is a bad movie.
It isn’t. It’s very enjoyable, in fact. I left
the theater smiling and anxiously awaiting 7-II.
But it becomes obvious by the third or fourth
time some of the characters swoosh to yet another “safe”
location that while the decision to split the last novel
into two movies would gratefully keep us from sitting through
a five-hour finale, that there was probably very little
footage left on the editing floor to flesh this one out
to a little over two hours.
I think probably everything that was shot
was included. Actually the one scene I wanted to see was
only mentioned in dialogue. And it involves birthday cake.
But I digress.
Hogwarsian Trio keeps growing into the best-looking young
threesome in cinema in decades. Harry, Hermione, and Ron
continue their wizardly odyssey and are just as entertaining
and enjoyable as ever — though their cuteness is almost
gone (except for Emma Watson), they have matured into nicely
of you who have read the novels (or seen the last installment)
know, things are not going well in the world of wizardry.
The good ones are on the run from the ever infecting Lord
Voldemort and his bad ones. Our clan is taking severe and
drastic measures to protect those they must leave behind,
and to transfer Harry to a place to keep him safe until
... until, um ... until ... it’s time.
It’s an oddly rushed sequence which
could have been paced for at least a little more sympathy,
but then Harry can’t stay in one place too long these
What follows is a pendulum of good, evil,
good with evil subtext, anti-gravity torture, confused allegiances,
blatently undisguised fascism, and quick reminders of who
all 48 characters are in the first fifteen minutes.
is important though, lest the film fall into the trap of
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, where there’s
seemingly a battle every fifteen minutes and you’re
not sure who’s fighting whom, why, or what happens
if one side defeats the other.
is obviously the first half of one movie. But hey, half
a Harry Potter beats ninety-five percent of what
we get from the movies in general.
Potter director David Yates once again leads us
through some wonderful visuals and the world that is ours
but yet is not.
to admit though, in this installment the chases on land,
sea and air — well, not sea — are oddly uninvolving
and chopped so much that there is no build or thrill to
them. Remember the first Quidditch game in the first movie?
How exciting that was? I missed that here. This time the
chases merely serve to get people from one place to another
And that’s a prevalent device throughout
this movie. People moving and popping around. A lot.
But between the globe-popping, the familiar
and entertaining Potter tapestry remains intact.
Some of the stand-out sequences involve:
• The animated sequence in which the
title of the movie is explained. Beautiful yet macabre,
I was mesmerized by it and its unique visual style.
• One little musical scene in particular
which says a great deal with no dialogue whatsoever. And
it’s a tribute to these leading actors that they can
now handle such a scene.
• A scene in an old attic involving
something slithery. (Prepare to replace your popcorn)
a lot of prep work going on in HP 7-I. Heavy duty
prep work for HP 7-II. So while this really isn’t
a stand-alone movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Part I will really gear you up for the series finale.
don’t tell me what happens!
Kopulos is a long-time Bay Area actor, writer and director
who spent several years as movie critic for Greg Kihn's
show on KFOX Radio.