The Gustavian Weekly

Harry Potter is finally here, sort of

By Kevin Dumke Staff Writer | December 10, 2010 | variety

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 premiered on midnight Nov. 19 to very excited audiences. MCT Campus.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 premiered on midnight Nov. 19 to very excited audiences. MCT Campus.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has arrived. Finally. Kind of. Sixteen months after the release of the previous installment, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, comes the first half of the seventh and final chapter in the Harry Potter saga. Yes, as I am sure many of you are aware, we all must wait longingly for eight more months before the cinematic representation of one of the biggest cultural phenomena of all time truly comes to a close. So, as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young so sagely advised, let’s love the one we’re with.

Harry Potter is arguably the Star Wars or Beatles of our generation. No other form of media has impacted us in quite the same way as J.K. Rowling’s story of this young wizard and his many trials.

It’s no wonder, then, that at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2010, millions of Potter fans nationwide packed into theatres and helped Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows bring in a staggering $24 million dollars of revenue. That was midnight showings alone, making this film’s midnight release the third highest of all time. Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows went on to become the fifth largest opening day of all time and the largest opening weekend for any film in the series.

One hundred Gusties were fortunate enough to experience this fan frenzy at the IMAX.  The Campus Activity Board (CAB) Co-President Lacey Squire contacted the IMAX theater at the Minnesota Zoo to reserve 50 tickets last June. Gauging the hype surrounding the movie, CAB went ahead and blocked off an additional 50 tickets.

“It was a big risk purchasing 100 tickets,” Squire said. “We knew that the premier was late on a school night and were unsure of how that would impact sales.” Fears were soon put to rest, however, as the line for tickets formed at 10:00 p.m. the night before they went on sale. “There were students contacting Campus Safety to make sure they were allowed to sleep in the foyer of the campus center. We sold out of tickets by 10:30 the following morning.”

Ten dollars secured a bus ride to the movie and the price of admission. The bus ride turned out to be just as Potter-oriented as the movie itself. Students wore Harry Potter related costumes and quizzed one another on trivia the whole ride.

“It was great to have this experience with such a large group. I had my first experience of real audience participation. People were clapping and cheering, even laughing at some of the poor acting,” Senior English Major Andy Setterholm said.

It is true, despite the nine years which have elapsed since the first Harry Potter film premiered, some of the actors have not progressed much. Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the titular character in the series, is still a bit of a disappointment.

While he has matured from the 12-year-old who first appeared as Harry so long ago, his acting skills remain mediocre, as he struggles with timing and a general sense of comfort on screen.

Thankfully, Radcliff does have a very strong supporting cast. The film focuses primarily on Harry and his friends, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and, thus, pushes these three young actors into a very prominent position. However, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows features a well renowned cast, including Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Brendan Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter, reprising her exquisitely deranged portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange and Imelda Staunton, who plays my personal favorite character to hate (Dolores Umbridge) to a tee.

Watson and Grint deliver their best performances to date and display more depth in their characters than audiences have seen thus far.

One possible explanation for the superiority of the acting  this time around is the comfort established between the stars and the director, David Yates, who returns for his third Harry Potter film. The series as a whole has seen a definite boost in appeal since Yates took the helm in 2007 with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Yates brought a somewhat edgier direction to the films, which deal with some frightening content, including snakes devouring people whole. With the exception of 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the Harry Potter films have seen a bit of a decrease in teenage angst and a more mature approach to a story about the world conquest of the most evil wizard ever known.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is no exception to these changes. Gone are the panoramic views of the wizarding school, Hogwarts, and so are many of the CGI shots which defined most of the early films.

Deathly Hallows relies more on the people involved, their anxiety and fear, to tell the story. Deathly Hallows boasts the most intimate and personal scenes yet, along with perhaps the most creative scene in the entire saga, the telling of the story of “The Three Brothers.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows suffers from its setbacks, though. As mentioned, the lead, Daniel Radcliffe, is somewhat wooden on screen. The biggest difficulty, however, is the storyline itself. While some of the other Harry Potter movies could have been understood in their own right, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows requires a bit more foreknowledge and may be a bit inaccessible for those not already familiar with the plot. Anyone who struggles with the term “horcrux” may be slightly lost.

Despite these setbacks, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is the most put together Harry Potter film to date. Although it is only the first part of what promises to be a spectacular finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is an amazing film on its own.

So if you’re looking for something to do out of the blinding snow, check out the seventh installment in the Harry Potter series. Deathly Hallows is rated PG-13 and runs 146 minutes.