The scene needs to be properly set for this one as I’m sure it had an impact on how I reacted to the first part of The Deathly Hallows.

First thing that needs to be said is that the last of the Harry Potter books I read was The Order of the Phoenix, but I have seen all of the films, and in fact watched The Half-Blood Prince not all that long ago. Quite happy that I remembered enough from that to handle the plot, but also quite happy that by not having read the book I would not be too bothered by things being left out or handled differently. And if it all got a bit too confusing the Book God was on hand to explain things to me.

The other thing to note was that through the good offices of Silvery Dude we were seeing the film at a special screening in the Barbican cinema, so it all had the air of being a bit more of a special occasion than normal cinema visits.

So, off we went on Friday afternoon, and got there an hour before the screening as due to start, found ourselves the first to arrive which was cool because it meant that we got Harry’s attention all to ourselves. For yes, a really very convincing Harry Potter look-alike was there, in full Gryffindor fig and waving a pretty cool looking wand. He offered to turn me into the mother of triplets, which showed a remarkably poor judge of character; I’m not terribly good with ankle-biters it has to be said. There is pictorial evidence of this meeting which I am hoping I can get my hands on, but we’ll have to see. We then spent the next wee while sipping white wine while greatly enjoying the reaction of the kids as they arrived and were apparently greeted by the Boy Who Lived himself; a couple of them were totally overwhelmed.

Then into the screening where said Harry did a rather nice introduction to the “documentary” about the wizarding world that we were about to see. I was particularly amused by his suggestion that a long journey to the cinema plus several glasses of wine plus a two and a half hour film might lead some of the Dads to start snoring, and that the children needed to understand that if their father fell asleep during the film it meant he didn’t love them. We then all had to wave our wands (breadsticks with one end dipped in chocolate; very tasty) towards the screen to make the film start.

And off it went, and I have to say up front that I thought it was very good indeed. I’m not going to go into the plot because you either already know what it is or you don’t and won’t want it spoiled. Enough to say that it is very dark with lots of teen angst in a good (ie not influenced by Twilight) way. The three leads are great, the whole of the British acting establishment is here in one form of another although some of them don’t get nearly enough screen time. The bit in the Ministry of  Magic where Harry and the others are in disguise was particularly good and there are some very creepy bits indeed. And through it all a real sense of impending doom.

Couple of standouts for me:

  • Helena Bonham-Carter was really nasty as Bellatrix, and my love for her as an actress continues to develop (though in a recent name your favourite actor/actresses game recently I totally forgot about her but I was drinking both cocktails and champagne so that’s my excuse);
  • Jason Isaacs played Lucius Malfoy as a broken man; I had intended to say hello to Jason Isaacs as befits a follower of Mayo and Kermode’s movie podcast but the stuff that’s going on when you first see him is totally inappropriate for that sort of frivolity (but I stillt said it inside my head).

There is an untimely death towards the end of the film which was very well done, but at least one of the children at the screening was quite upset by it and had to be comforted afterwards. I have to say that all of the children in the audience were incredibly well-behaved, and I say that as someone who gets twitchy when there are more than five people under the age of 16 together at any one time. 

All of this made for a really lovely atmosphere in which to watch the movie.

Thought it ended at an interesting point and am looking forward to the next part in 2011. Very, very enjoyable in a dark and doomladen way.