There were three types of people who went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: People who were diehard fans of the books; people who had been faithful fans of the movies; and finally, people who had seen some of the movies and know something about the books (the casual hanger ons), but have really only admired the Potterverse with an eye.
The first two types of people(me not included) very much enjoyed Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – but that casual fan may not walk away with same sense of satisfaction from what is essentially half a story, chock-full of references and characters that could fill an entire page on Wikipedia.
J.K. Rowling’s Deathly Hallows novel was a beast. We’re talking about one bloody thick book. Warner Bros. could’ve “streamlined” and very well butchered the film into a bare-bones interpretation of the text, but for the fans (and the box office receipts) they decided to deliver the final chapter in the Harry Potter saga as the sweeping epic it was meant to be – to both the benefit and detriment of these final films.
Gone was Hogwarts and the sense of security that went with it, gone was any of the joy of youth, gone is more than just a measure or two of John Williams’ original music. With Harry, Ron and Hermione left largely to their own devices on often forbidding terrain, this grim beginning-of-the-end odyssey has a very different feel from any of its predecessors — a development slightly more disconcerting than it is welcome. This holiday release was certainly a huge international attraction beyond question, even if the real fireworks mostly awaited the finale’s second installment,
However, there was another dimension of David Yates’ direction of Deathly Hallows: Part 1 that simultaneously impressed some and bored others to tears: the quieter and more meditative portions of the film. Some people will say “the middle hour dragged,” and others will say “some of the best scenes were the slow ones,” it really does depend on what you came through that theater door to see. A large portion of this film involves Harry, Ron and Hermione literally sitting around in a magic tent sulking, worrying, and/or yelling at one another. If you consider yourself one of those movie goers who likes to see action, action, action, you will likely get bored by the abundance of static moments in this film.
What will make this two and a half-hour journey even harder for “action types” is that this film offers no real “payoff” to speak of. Over the course of the movie there are a lot of setups, some small developments, some big developments that won’t feel big (yet), and a couple of dramatic turns that will totally hit or miss, depending on your level of Potter fandom.
And speaking of fandom: unless you’re one of the book fans who has already memorized the entire Harry Potter chronology, or a movie fan who has recently watched all six films back-to-back, there are a lot of references, inferences and name drops in Deathly Hallows: Part 1 that could soar right over your head. The book was meant to tie up every plot line from six (thick) novels – even in a slimmed down movie there are a lot of plot points to remember. Potterphiles will enjoy the sight of familiar faces and the mention of familiar events and objects; everyone else may be left scratching their head.