The first half of the (probably) final Harry Potter adventure has made it to the big screen.

Cast and Crew Information

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Timothy Spall as Wormtail
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
John Hurt as Ollivander
Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom
Warwick Davis as Griphook

Screenplay by Steve Kloves, based on the J.K. Rowlings novel.
Directed by David Yates

Premise

The entire wizarding public is now aware that Voldemort has returned, and his Death Eaters have gained enough power to cause serious problems to those who agree with Dumbledore’s way of thinking. Harry, as well as everyone around him, is in serious danger.

High Point

The height of the stakes and degree of sacrifice required are made clear within the first two minutes. The audience knows exactly how serious this is the first time Hermione speaks.

Low Point

Dancing in the tent. I see the purpose it serves in the story, and the low-contact dance style drove home a point to the audience that Ron wasn’t getting, but it still felt out of place and could have been edited shorter or replaced with something else.

The Review

As usual, it’s hard to stay original with an adaptation from another medium or a sequel. This is both, so that’s not great for this particular category. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects are excellent. There are some points that stand out, such as the splinching, as being exceptionally well done. There were a couple of moments with the polyjuice potion that were clearly CGI, and a CGI hand with fingers that were far too stable, but they’re relatively minor problems. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is very well served by the choice to adapt this novel as two films. It dramatically reduces the need to edit and cut the content to fit into the time alotted, and allows for a much more accurate adaptation than we’ve seen from the last few movies. They also chose an excellent place to divide the narrative. It is really only harmed by the fact that it is only half of the narrative, and not the complete tale. I also applaud the decision to virtually eliminate recap: there’s no time to waste, so they dive right in assuming the viewer remembers where the previous entry left off. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is very well done. Keeping the same cast from the outset was a great decision, even if they did look too old for their purported age at some points along the way. Emma Watson in particular has some great material to work with, and she handles it very well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is solid, with excellent lighting and editing choices. Keeping a single director for the latter half of the series was another good decision on the studio side, allowing the major contributors to get comfortable with each other in time for the big finale. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is great. I was impressed in particular with where they chose to break the narrative in two. It’s not the point I’d have chosen, but I was thinking in terms of a prose presentation. The visual and auditory elements permitted by the film medium make the choice they made much more effective. Add in Hermione’s personal demons, Ron’s increasing maturity and eventual reduced bumbling, and excellent use of Harry’s inhuman allies, and this chapter works extremely well. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is quite possibly the strongest movie in the series. It’s well worth checking out. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, receives 34 out of 42.