Jul 16, 2009

Of Wizards and Men

I find myself in an interesting cross section of popular culture. I enjoy the Harry Potter series enough to watch the movies, but not enough to forge ahead and read (devour?) the books. And since I'm about the only person in this demographic, either you don't care to see the movies or I'm not going to be spoiling anything for you having read the books.

This is what we call in the blogosphere a spoiler alert.

Ok class, let's try to ONE have a lab that doesn't involve someone's death.

The Half-Blood Prince was a good divergence in movie from the other previous ones in that it really felt like there was no closure at the end of the movies. Previous films all left me with that same episodic feeling, like Harry triumphed over Voldemort once again - but he'll be back another day. Kinda like how The Claw from Inspector Gadget always shouted "I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!" as he made his escape.

In this movie, things got real. Over the course of the movie, you see an interesting playout of Dumbledore and Voldemort infiltrating one another's ranks and trying to out maneuver one another. Dumbledore knows he's missing crucial information needed to defeat Voldemort, one a former teacher has. This teacher is reluctant to give up the goods, as they say, and after much persuasion, Harry finds out how to defeat Voldemort: destroy the horcruxes - things that contain Voldemort's soul.

Meanwhile, Snape is infiltrating the Death Eaters - Voldemort's band of merry murderers - and acting as spy to Dumbledore. All this is happening as Malfoy, who looks like a band member of My Chemical Romance, is trying to get the Death Eaters into a magically fortified Hogwarts to kill Dumbledore.

All the while Emma loves Ron but Ron doesn't know it. So Ron dates some floozy and that pisses Emma off. Top that off with a heaping helping of Harry falling for Ron's sister, Ginny Weasley, and you've got yourself a love cocktail that's fit for any soap opera.

Confused? Too much to follow? To its credit, the movie does a good job of making sure you aren't lost over the course of the 2.5+ hour movie.

So we get the buildup of what I've been told by my book-reading friends is the final arc. And the movie plays out like a buildup movie. The story progresses. We see newer darker sides of a lot of characters. We see a lot of ambiguities in characters that need (we hope) to be reconciled.

Ron's helmet was part of his "special needs" at Hogwarts.

I came out of the movie theater feeling the same way I did after the second Matrix movie - I understood this movie was a necessary transition to the end of the series, but the movie left me wanting more. More action, more wizardry, more excitement. Half-Blood Prince didn't quite feel like it was dragging, but it did feel much slower than the other movies.

Notice how I'm primarily focusing on the story of the movie. This is because you know the other aspects of the movie already. This is Potter, after all. It's like trying to dissect how different yearly batches of Madden '0X are from one another. It's what you've already come to expect from the series:

  • The supporting cast all play brilliantly around Daniel Radcliffe who plays a perfectly capable, though comparatively underwhelming, Harry Potter.
  • Everything else was superb. The music, the costumes, the setting, the visuals - you name it.

I believe that this movie, on it's own, is the weakest of all Harry Potter movies. That said, even a B-B+ Harry Potter movie is better than 90% else that Hollywood's been producing. It is a necessary (and fitting) transition movie for the series, and one I wholly recommend to anyone with even the slightest interest in the series.

Oh, and Snape kills Dumbledore.


1 comment:

EGTF said...

I have no idea why, but from the start of the film with Ron saying to Hermoine that she had a bit of "spearmint toothpaste" on her lip me and my friend couldn't help but laugh throughout.

It's quite easy to see so much subtext in it, especially with JK saying she wrote Dumbledore as gay.

Still, jolly good film.