I’m not a massive Potter head. I have seen all the movies and enjoyed them, some more than others! Years ago, I read the first two books, so I guess I have quite a good knowledge of the Harry Potter world. I enjoyed the movie. It was action packed and well made. The audience cheered at all the big moments. I thought the first half of the film was brilliant fun but then the second half, though kinetic to watch, felt a bit flat.
There was an amazing action scene at the start where the trio of heroes break into Gringots Bank and some stellar British thesp acting from Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman and Warwick Davies. The kids were better than previous films. Daniel Radcliffe has sometimes seemed a bit wooden to me but here he holds his own up against the A-listers. Rupert Grint seemed bored with the whole thing for most of the film. Emma Watson is, for me, the best actor of these three, but they all have likeable screen presence now, like old friends.
Story wise, there was too much Voldermort and Harry. The other characters are all backgrounded, in the story, and literally in the staging. Ron and Hermione spent every scene standing a little behind Harry, one side or the other. Bellatrix, Snape and the Mallfoys, all lined up behind Voldermort. Hermione and Ron aren’t really given enough to do for most of the movie. Which is odd as, to me, they are the strongest characters after Harry. I have no idea who most of the minor characters are, some of them are given little moments, which are nice, but some hardly feature at all, and then we are supposed to care when they die. I was disappointed there wasn’t more of Hagrid, he is one of the best characters too. Neville Longbottom got far too much screen time. I thought some of his action stuff should have gone to Ron, who is more of a lead character.
There are lots of Magic McGuffins that need destroying or collected before Harry can defeat Voldermort, but somehow these do not add enough tension as they have no real function in the story. They all require convoluted explanations etc and there are so many of them it’s a bit like a video-game. I couldn’t help thinking of the simplicity of the Lord of the Rings, when all they have to destroy is the one ring and the parallel stories, help build tension to that.
There is a flashback and a dream sequence (or death/unconscious sequence) stuck in the middle of the action. These dispelled a bit of tension too. The flashback works well, but the dream sequence was decidedly odd, though there was a good speech at the end of it from Michael Gambon as Dumbledor. Both these scenes revealed twists regarding Snape, Dumbledor and Harry’s destiny, which were a little complex to follow for me in terms of character logic.
Overall I enjoyed it, but much like all the other Harry Potter films, it reminded me of Lord of the Rings, which to my mind is infinitely better. The only thing that is much better in Harry Potter is that the end is short and sweet, compared to LOTR where it is dragged out forever.