DIRECTOR: David Yates
No school. Different structure. The best Harry Potter since The Prisoner Of Azkaban, or may be of the best of the franchise. David Yates took over the franchise back in 2007 with The Order Of The Phoenix and has struck an interesting chord.
Unlike the Spielberg-esk Chris Columbus efforts (Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber Of Secrets), the more interesting/exciting Azkaban or the actioner which was Mike Newell’s Goblet Of Fire, Yates has found a straight forward way to adapt the books with an artistic edge.
Often darker in tone, which is of course in keeping with books, the washed out colour pallet and a greater interest in narrative structure and details, will surly impress the fans of the books and films alike. When I first heard that the decision had been taken to split ten final book in to two films, I felt, like many, that this was a cynical move to wring as much out the franchise as possible, and I am far from convinced to contrary.
But, Yates and crew have done a magnificent job of justifying the split, by making this the most comprehensive adoption of the series, a series so often maligned for sacrificing details and plot-lines for the sake of the movie narrative.
Harry and his friends are on the run. The Ministry of Magic has fallen into the hands of Lord Voldemort and his cronies, leaving Harry, Ron and Hermione to find and the Horcruxes as set out in the previous film. This leads to some set pieces but also finds Harry and crew camping, a lot.
This is the most character driven story of the series and this is way overdue. The school and the normal trappings of the HP universe are all but dismissed here, to make a blazing return in the finale, but this is Harry and friends camping, alone and on the run from forces not dis-similar to the ever-growing NAZI movement in the late 30’s. The tone is perfect, artistic, dark and puts the narrative and characters above all else.
This is proof positive that the HP series is worth more than a few fireworks and broomstick polo! The cliffhanger ending has been criticised by some as just cutting off, but I couldn’t disagree more. This is in some ways half a film, but it’s the half that was missing from all the others, a real adoption of the source novel, which was reminiscent of the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy in its faithfulness.
I feel that when Part 2 is released in July 2011, that the pair will work as super-sized finale for the decade old series which has shaped cinema for a whole generation, and at the very least, given us something to see almost every year.
The 3D issue? As many of you may well know, this was slated to be a 3D release but was canceled at the last-minute as Warner Bros. claimed that it wasn’t good enough and they needed more time to perfect it. Well, I’m sure that cynicism will be well placed here as the film will surly get it’s dimensionalised release sooner rather than later, therefore increasing the gross, but it was a wise move none the less.
This needs to be the best 3D that there is as not to devalue the flagging 3D fad anymore that it already is, but it almost proves that the Harry Potter franchise has the strength to compete on its own more traditional merits, in straight forward 2D, no gimmicks, no loss of light.
I would also like to point that The Three Brothers animation sequence which reveals the eponymous Deathly Hallows was innovative and first-rate. This is how to make a fantasy film, serious, exiting and faithful.