Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Derek Domike and The Half-Blood Prince

Six Harry Potter movies have been released over the past 8 years, with two more currently in production (representing the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.) The franchise is incredibly prolific in both its print and film forms, making author JK Rowling the wealthiest woman in the United Kingdom.

As a somewhat scrawny (although I, like star Daniel Radcliffe, have been bulking up a bit) brown-haired Caucasian male with glasses, I was a lightning bolt scar away from “The Boy Who Lived,” at least at first glance to people who don’t really look closely at me. I don’t particularly welcome the comparison, but it has been made (multiple times, to my chagrin.) This made me exploring the Bildungroman of the novels something of a painful chore. So, in a way, this one is a little personal for me.

For the next six days at 11 Word Movie Reviews I’ll be posting reviews of all the Harry Potter movies. My thoughts, overall of the franchise, are they are generally solidly made and dependable, if occasionally unremarkable. I always enjoy watching the Potter films, even though I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the franchise in general. But as, I guess, a casual outsider, this might give me a chance to be slightly less biased than reviewing say, The Dark Knight. (If you didn’t catch how ridiculously in love I was/am with this movie, here you go.)


Overall, Half-Blood Prince did not disappoint, but it did not necessary surprise either. My brothers, having read the books, told me about parts that were shortened or excised, and that they felt were suggested at to fans in a manner almost akin to “you should be familiar with this.” Having not read the books, I really didn’t notice this, and the story should make sense, although the movie does seem to presuppose you’ve seen the other five parts (which, in all likelihood, one has.) The movie flowed pretty well, it dragged a bit in the second act, and it is pretty long. But, with the prices of the multiplex the way they are, I find less and less reason to complain to a movie for at least keeping me entertained for the time allotted.

The special effects were good, and a general kudos to the screenwriters for their adaptation (trimming a rather sizeable book into this was likely a challenge.) Everything, overall, was about par if not slightly better than average, and looking back on it, I didn’t really have any complaints. If you’re a fan, you’ve already seen it, and if you generally dislike the franchise, I doubt this movie will change your mind. But I generally find them solid (if not spectacular) pieces of filmmaking and thoroughly enjoyable.

What stood out for me was the acting, especially amongst the younger cast. Over these six films we’ve seen a lot of growth and improvement in the craft of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry,) Rupert Grint (Ron,) and Emma Watson (Hermione,) although overall I don’t think anyone will keep them in mind when Oscar season comes around. Tom Felton (playing Potter’s rival Draco Malfoy) is given a lot of storytime this time around and he seems to shine in it. The adult cast, including a lot of luminaries of British filmmaking, does a great job as well. I particularly enjoyed the over-the-top manner of the villainous Death Eaters.

(I have decidedly mixed feelings about Potter fandom as well.)

The grade I give this movie, alongside the rest of the franchise, will be shown soon.

In conclusion, here’s how I would rank the films in terms of quality:
Order of the Phoenix
Prisoner of Azkaban
Half-Blood Prince
Goblet of Fire
Sorcerer’s Stone
Chamber of Secrets

If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it, especially for Potter fans, but I would definitely recommend you go rent the series up to this point and catch up and watch it as well. It’s definitely not a disappointment, and worth the price of admission. They also definitely are, in the most hopelessly cliché way imaginable, fun for the whole family.

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