Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

There's no such thing as a casual Harry Potter fan anymore. I mean, maybe there never was, but there certainly isn't anymore. For instance, I used to be able to go to the Harry Potter movies and, y'know, grasp what was going on.

The characters are living in dark times, I know that much, because Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour of the Ministry says so. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), is being spirited away to safety because You-Know-Who wants to kill him. Hermione (Emma Watson) is making her parents forget they ever had a daughter with a single word and just one wave of her wand. That girl is good. And Ron (Rupert Grint) is being really annoying. Actually, at the beginning of the movie he's okay, but he gets really annoying later.

The Ministry of Magic and Hogwart's have been taken over by You-Know-Who. Oh, heck with it, I'm not typing all that out every time. Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldemort. There. Ralph Fiennes didn't appear, or even Michael Keaton. Half the cast of the previous films gathers together to help protect Harry. By the time I figured out who any given character was, that character had disappeared, because they needed to make room on the screen for the next person. Basically, everyone except the main three characters gets at best two scenes before vanishing for the rest of the movie.

There's a wedding, Death Eaters, a big broom chase, kidnapping, grave-robbing, the Evil Pink Lady (Imelda Staunton) from Order of the Phoenix, the basilisk-slaying sword from Chamber of Secrets, kissing, and death. Magic flies everywhere. They even bust up a muggle coffee shop. Looks like the kids are all grown up. Except for Ron, who throws temper tantrums like an eight-year-old. Hermione has the coolest purse ever, though. It's a beaded Bag of Holding from Dungeons & Dragons! Need a magical healing potion? She's got one in there. Change of clothes? Check. A tent that looks like a regular two-person pup tent on the outside, but is a two-level furnished cottage inside? She's even got that. And putting the tent into the bag doesn't even create a dimensionally recursive loop like in Doctor Who. I need a purse like that.

Oh, and the Horcruxes. I knew I was forgetting something. There's a locket that used to belong to Salazar Slytherin, founder of the House of the same name; and thanks to Voldemort's twisted attempts at immortality, a part of his soul now resides in said locket. His power is growing rapidly, but before he can be killed, the Horcruxes have to be destroyed; and this movie is all about finding and destroying that locket. It's a lot like how liches work in Dungeons & Dragons. Actually, the logo for the Ministry of Magic looks a little like the M in the Magic: the Gathering logo, too. Hasbro owns both D&D and Magic: the Gathering. Can you imagine if Hasbro tried to sue J.K. Rowling? If you think we're in an economic crisis now...

Anyway. It was a pretty decent movie, I guess. I mean, I wasn't bored, which I easily could have been, considering that I barely grasped what was going on. The scenery was beautiful. They walk through a Microsoft wallpaper, teleport into lovely woods and beaches, and dodge pursuit on a busy London street. The kids are pretty good actors now, which I suppose was unavoidable, given that they've been hanging around with much of the cream of the British acting community for the last several years.

Let's go with three and three-quarters out of five. If you know the significance of Godric's Hollow, for example, then you'll probably want to give it the full four out of five. Or maybe five out of five. The fact is, I don't even feel like I can judge these flicks anymore, since I spent a good portion of my time scribbling notes of things that I had to look up when I got home so I could retroactively understand more of the plot. But I have until next July before Part II comes out. If I start reading the Harry Potter wikis now, I should have them mostly memorized by then.

Image: 
Ministry of Magic M on the left; Magic: the Gathering M on the right.

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swish & flick!

swish & flick!

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