Like University of Kentucky basketball players, Harry Potter and his pals have decided they can’t wait to finish school before going pro. You can’t really blame them for leaving Hogwarts early. Not only do shoe contracts and multimillion dollar paychecks await, but — oh yeah — Lord Voldemort and his gang of evil, genocidal sorcerers want to kill them and they’ve installed the guy who killed the school’s previous principal as the new headmaster.
So there’s that. Don’t try and talk to Harry, Ron and Hermione about the importance of earning degrees and enjoying their fleeting childhoods. They’ve got to go get theirs – “theirs” in this case meaning hidden charms called horcruxes that transform into monsters that display smokey underage sex shows and double as Voldemort’s resurrection portals to boot. To destroy the horcruxes, Harry and the Harriettes must find a hidden magical sword that Harry may or may not need to ice-fish out of a random Antarctic lake in the middle of the United Kingdom.
And no matter how efficiently the kids do their convoluted job, they won’t be able to finish until next year, when the other half of their five hour movie will apparate into theaters.
The first few paragraphs are my way of complaining how convoluted and ineffectual the plotting of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is. And despite its silliness, insanity and Blue’s Clues-like insipidness, it’s still a fast-paced, fascinating film that’s better than all 32,000 previous movies in the series combined, times two.
Harry Potter flicks have always suffered from a narrative akin to a sugared-up kindergartener who tells you pieces of a story without linking them together or explaining context. “Harry flew in a magic car and then he smiled at Hermione and then Dumbledore came in and showed them some magic and then…”
While the routine holds true in the 32,001st movie in the series, at least now there are real consequences and some chances for the not-so-young-anymore actors to strut their chops. To put it bluntly, I like this movie because instead of whining about possible death at the hands of Voldemort while barely any of the threats come to fruition, this is the film in which Voldey finally gets to pull out his nine and bust some caps. If you happen to be an irritating CGI character, you’d best not make reservations for the premiere of Part 2. And oh yeah, retroactive spoiler alert for that sentence.
It’s just fun to watch wizards kill each other, shooting spells like bullets and throwing knives through magic wormholes that come out the other side and continue to get their stab on. I could watch this stuff all night, and practically did since the movie is so needlessly long.
I was actually impressed with the acting. All that time spent making love to horses on the British stage has clearly paid off for Potterboy Daniel Radcliffe, who now displays a full range of emotions rather than the bewildered false modesty that’s been required of his character for the first 32,000 films. The same goes for Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who by now must be so sick of their roles they’d take just about any other job, including head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, just to break typecast.
Well, let’s not get carried away. No one in their right mind would coach the Cowboys because Jerry Jones is a meddlesome owner who sets employees up to fail. But they’re definitely ready to star in softcore Showtime porn or play substitute teachers on Glee. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them, but before the future I need one more wizard slaughtering movie, pretty please with a horcrux on top.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Alan Rickman. Written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. Directed by David Yates. 145 minutes. Rated PG-13.