As the wonder of the Harry Potter adventure comes to a close, it is with an excited, yet heavy, heart that I see the first installment of the last book. What a fantastic ride! Deathly Hallows Part I is the best screen adaptation (thank you, Steve Kloves!) since the first film, Sorcerer’s Stone. The script is concise, action packed, funny and poignant. The dialogue sounds natural and there isn’t any obvious exposition that can drag a script down. The film is also the best directorial installment by David Yates – his earlier attempts being the last two in the series, Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. This is great news since the last two movies are such a disappointment.
Early on, Yates brags on how he makes Phoenix the shortest movie in the franchise (coming in at a mere 138 minutes ). Right away I’m put on my guard. Doesn’t this guy realize that us diehard Potter fans are more than willing to sit for a almost three hours to see what happens? Doesn’t he get that fans want to see the most accurate adaptation as possible? Apparently, he doesn’t. Order of the Phoenix is a mess put together by a series of montages meant to propel the story forward, but only leaves the watcher wanting to see more action. Some of the same shots are even used twice. Unfortunately, Half-Blood Prince isn’t any better. It’s sloppy, disjointed. The scenes are choppy and don’t fit with one another. There is no linkage. The beautiful scene transitions of Alfonso Cuaron (Prisoner of Azakaban) and Mike Newell (Goblet of Fire) are badly missing. But the biggest problem of both of the films is that they really underestimate the audience. A damn shame.
But Deathly Hallows Part I does not disappoint! Thank the celluloid gods! It totally steps it up a notch, and not just one. It is literally a world away from Yates other attempts. It’s almost as if the onetime TV director went to film school and learned how to make a complete movie. This film is so much better than his past installments you have to wonder if he received extra help. The cinematography (executed brilliantly by Eduardo Serra – Girl with a Pearl Earring) is captivating. But it’s the editing that sets this movie apart. So much so, it’s hard to believe it’s the same editor from Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, Mark Day. Perhaps, he too got some extra help to transfer his television editing skills to the big screen. But the best thing is that these guys finally got their sh*t together to produce a Harry Potter movie that exceeds fan expectations – all except for the wait. Waiting for July 2011 for the second half will be torture.