My familiarity with Harry Potter has, till recently, been entirely via the movies and various online wikis. Unlike die-hard fans of the books, I have seen the films with no additional knowledge of the world or plot, and thus some movies that were most beloved by the book-lovers left me confused and dissatisfied, whereas my favourite of the films thus far (Prisoner of Azkaban) is often cited as the weakest by the book fans.
Now, I have started reading the books opportunistically; that is, whenever I am staying with someone who happens to have a copy on their shelves. I have read the first three books, and while they are growing on me, I still stand by my choice of favourite film. I mention this to establish that, when it comes to the seventh Harry Potter movie, I’m still approaching it as a film-goer rather than a reader of the specific books.
As such, I found Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 enjoyable but dissatisfying, as it sort of just ended. Of course, I understand that is because this movie ends in the middle of the book, but that doesn’t make it any more satisfying as a movie.
Nevertheless, the action was interesting if a bit directionless. There were cool scenes and revelations, and the “interminable camping” bits I’ve heard mention of in the book seemed eminently terminable. And this movie, more than any of the previous, was relentlessly dark. In the previous films, bad stuff happened, but always to someone other than our main trio of heroes. In this film, it hits them all square on, as if someone flicked a switch to go from kids book to adult book (or movie, in this case).
Despite my grumbles about the dissatisfying ending, it did leave me anxious to see how the series ends. (I mean, I’ve *read* how the series ends on various wikis, but I’m anxious to see it, which is no small feat.) I may try and get through the rest of the books before the final film arrives just to see how it turns out.
Of course, the movie is not all roses and sunshine in terms of production quality. There were a number of plot events that didn’t really make a lot of sense to me, in the form of a few scenes where they tried to explain something, but didn’t explain enough. Also, I found some of the character motivations a bit thin, and the lead trio seemed to rehash the same personal drama we saw 2 movies ago. All in all, it felt a bit meandering and directionless, with lots of cool scenes individually that failed to make a coherent whole.
In terms of recommendations, well, if you liked the other movies, you’ll probably like this one; if you didn’t, probably not. It is a more grown-up film than its predecessors, but won’t make much sense without them.