Year Released: 2010
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes
(PG-13, 146 min.)
"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold." William Butler Yeats
The magic is over, for me at least. This is a film for the legion of Rowling fans who camp overnight for the privilege of buying her latest screed, who know more about her odd set of characters and curses than is actually good for them. Those anonymous ranks of pasty-faced devotes who devour her pages like innocuous Death Eaters rendered mute and immobile.
I am an outsider to their ranks, a fact that was made abundantly clear throughout the 2 ½ hour inside baseball magic show. The decision to ignore theatergoers only familiar with the series through the cinema, those of us who have semi-normal lives in between debuts of the never-ending franchise, was probably shrewd and pragmatic. Let’s face it, the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows released in July of 2007, was the fastest selling book in history, with 1.8 million copies dashing over the counter in the first 48 hours at Barnes and Noble alone, and a total record 8.3 million copies total sold in the Unites States. That’s one heck of a consumer base to attend to, ones who want all the pristine details rendered onto film, without even the briefest nod of explanation or recapitulation for the rest of us.
But even these rabid fans may rebel at the decision, largely a financial one, to divide the final work into two parts, doled out now and again in July. Why lump everything you’ve got into one cinematic transaction when the almost 800 page tome can easily generate two films and twice as many tickets? Even critic Lou Lumenick couldn’t help but call this latest episode a “soulless cash machine.”
The Boston Globe’s Wesley Morris is less crass, but his indictment even more stinging: “…this particular movie has a whiff of exploitation. Rowling wrote one epic funeral that Warner Bros. requires us to attend twice.”
If Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince seemed a setup for the final installment, this one doesn’t even try to stand on its own, ending with an abruptness that makes the screen credits a shock. Or as James Berardinelli more colorfully describes it: “It’s like sex where one of the participants has a change of heart after the foreplay...a study in anti-climax.”
But it’s not just that the film fails to remind us what the horcruxes are and why Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) are so desperate to find them, but it also leaves out so much that we have come to love and yes, expect, from a Harry Potter film – the magic, the whimsy, the majesty of Hogwart’s Academy with its dark passages and glowing banquets. The quirky professors and resident beastmaster, not to mention high-flying quidditch.
Despite Wesley Morris’s descriptive addendum to the cast “…and every other living British actor,” we are without the peerless Maggie Smith, who as Professor Minerva McGonagall could say everything with the mere arch of an eyebrow, as well as Emma Thompson’s daft Sybil Trelawney. And while Robbie Coltrane’s loveable giant Hagrid does take us on one wild ride in one of the film's two great action sequences, he is absent for most of the rest. So too with my favorite, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, displaying Rowling’s Dickensesque talent for choosing such telling character names), whose appearance seems almost a cameo.
It is left to our three main characters to carry on. And while all three have grown with their roles, gaining their acting chops along the way, the uneven pacing and wandering plot would be burdens even for veteran thespians. Things start out promisingly enough with the hairsbreadth ride to escape the Death Eaters out to get Harry, each of his cohorts taking a potion to look exactly like him to fool his pursuers. And when Ron, Hermione, and Harry have to penetrate the Ministry of Magic, now taken over my Lord Voldemort’s evil gang, we are on the edge of our seats. Here the atmosphere is almost a character in itself, dark and oppressive as Europe in the 1930s, where even using the bathroom becomes an exercise in soulless subjugation.
But the rest of the film drags on where, as critic Amy Biancolli says, “most of the plot functions as an extended camping trip, and a dreary one at that.” The trio hides out in a series of desolate landscapes, most magically retrieved from Hermione’s memories, in a tent that looks modest on the outside, but expands to grand proportions within – the only concession to the earlier magical whimsy from earlier films. These grotesque landscapes, the woods, desert, or misty bare patches near cold streams, are the kind you might see on the canvases of Vincent Van Gogh, and you begin to understand why he might want to cut off an ear or two. The three adolescents also indulge in some existential angst, Ron suffering from a particularly sensual dream apparition involving Harry and Hermione that seems an attempt to steal some of the steaminess of the Twilight series, where vampires instead of witches get whitewashed.
It’s also in the woods where Harry breaks his wand, an incident that says it all. In my mind, the series is broken as well.
I must thank Christopher Thomas Schmidt for his most timely and telling take of what to have at your side for the latest Harry Potter flick. He also injects a little of his sly humor into the recipe itself.
You stood in line for three hours to get the book, which you read in a day and a half. You've waited three years for the movie adaptation only to find it has been broken into two parts, the second of which won't be out for another couple years. Right about now, J.K. Rowling's legal-drinking-age fans could probably use a cocktail.
Deathly Hallows Hot Chocolate
- 2oz Smirnoff Blue Dark Roasted Espresso Vodka
- 1/2oz Creme de Cacao (light or dark)
- 1/2oz Light Cream
- Hot Chocolate
- Powdered sugar
- Honeyduke's Chocolate Frog garnish (available at the Harry Potter Theme Park in Orlando Florida.)
Rim Martini glass with sugar. Combine Smirnoff, Creme de Cacao and cream in shaker. Shake, strain into glass. If your cup runneth over, your glasses are too small, or you have a heavy hand for which you have the Vodka Examiner's respect. Top with hot chocolate, if you have room. If not, take a big swig off your drink, then fill with hot chocolate. If you prefer, you may fill with cold chocolate or chocolate milk. Some cannot get used to a hot martini, but the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Tepid Chocolate Cocktail did not impress our focus group.
Recipe Source: Associated Content.com