Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ahead of the curve with Harry. Or: An early review of the Deathly Hallows, oddly enough.

There are few, if any, moments that I can recall finding myself squarely at the bleeding edge of any sort of curve. Curves of fashion, cuisine and pop culture are normally well beyond me; I was, for instance, likely the last person in the Western hemisphere to find out that a “Bieber” is not, as I originally thought, a small rodent-like puppet in a third-tier Disney show, but rather a pop star of some note. Apparently.

All of which is to say that I was mildly surprised to find myself sitting comfortably at a private Imax screening on Wednesday evening as the penultimate screen treatment of Harry Potter’s lengthy adolescence unspooled before an audience of Potter fans. Ah, but enough about me.

The decision to break the story into two films was certainly correct; part 1 is a taught, straightforward treatment of the book that successfully conveys the adult world of dread, danger and loneliness in which Harry, Hermione and Ron find themselves. It is a world in which no-one is to be trusted and the hustle and bustle of industrious bureaucracy is opaque and menacing. Perhaps most telling, though, is that it is a world in which there is often no clear-cut path to follow. Just as in real life there are dead ends, false leads and times during which there is simply nothing to do but wait for answers to present themselves.

There is of course plenty of action as well, although it is a relief that director David Yates has a deft touch so that the sequences of running, flying and things going boom never feel forced. (Which, if nothing else, makes it all the more clear that directors like Michael Bay have done us no favors by flooding the screen with car chases that not only feel endless, but are, inexplicably, less believable than sequences involving magic wands and flying motorcycles. )

So, in short, the Deathly Hallows got well deserved upturned thumbs from everyone I saw it with last night, and perhaps most importantly, I don’t have to be behind the curve and wait on line to see it with the rest of the nerds this weekend. Ha!

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