A MONTH OF MAGIC: Hero Complex is counting down to the Nov. 19 release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1” — the penultimate film in the history-making “Potter” franchise — with exclusive interviews, photos, videos and reports from the set. Today, Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan reviews the film.
What’s the latest Harry Potter film like? If you’ve seen the previous six, you already know. If you haven’t, there’s no point in trying to catch up now.
It’s a tribute to how much the series’ true believers are being counted on to carry the film that this latest episode makes little attempt to bring newcomers up to speed about what’s come before. Much of the plot of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” involves the attempt to find and destroy a series of Horcruxes, and if you haven’t a clue about what they are or why they’re important, you might as well stay home.
There is something different, however, about this Potter movie, and that is the words “Part 1″ that end the title. Understandably distraught about “Hallows” being the last of the phenomenally popular J.K. Rowling novels, Warner Bros. has split the final effort into two films and is likely kicking itself for not having thought of that with the earlier books. You don’t make $5.7 billion in theatrical revenue, however, by being cavalier about your source material and the watchword for the “Potter” series in general, and this film in particular, is making the audience feel like it’s in safe hands.
Though adventurous filmmakers such as Alfonso Cuarón have made “Potter” films, David Yates, who directed the two previous epics as well as both installments of “Deathly Hallows,” is not one of them. Capable and dependable, he can be counted on to make solid albeit unsurprising films that believe in connecting the dots rather than creating risky excitement. When studio president Alan Horn said his priority for the series was treating the books “respectfully,” he wasn’t kidding.
Being respectful also means making sure you have quality people behind the camera (Steve Kloves has written almost all the screenplays and the new cinematographer is Oscar-nominated “Girl With a Pearl Earring” veteran Eduardo Serra) as well as top acting talent in front of it. Even if you don’t always have enough for them to do. In fact, the Potter films are so loaded down with the best of British performers that Bill Nighy, who was added to the cast this time along with Rhys Ifans, wasn’t really kidding when he commented, “For a while, I thought I would be the only English actor of a certain age who wasn’t in a ‘Harry Potter’ film.” Nighy sets the tone for the latest film…
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– Kenneth Turan
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