Tuesday, July 28, 2009
McGonagall: Why is it that whenever something happens, you three are always involved?
Ron: Believe me, professor, I've been asking myself that for the last six years.
I have to say that when I walked out of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince I was absolutely wiped out. And knowing what I know of my reactions to reading this book and then the final book, I can only imagine how utterly flattened I'm going to be during the final two movies. Although hopefully I won't be suffering possible sinusitis then...
But I will freely admit that I cried like a big girlyman... in fact the big girlyman crying started with the trailer for Where The Wild Things Are before the movie... I can't wait to see that... but that's not why we're here... we're here about Le Potter.
Like the previous two movies (Goblet and Phoenix) there is a lot of truncation of plot going on... although honestly, I've only read the book a couple of times, and so with the exception of a couple of very major set pieces and a few minor plot points I couldn't really tell you how much more was missing. But once again there were things that, if you've never read the books, would have gone whizzing right over your head or completely passed you by. Yes, lots of it is character backstory stuff, but it's stuff they're going to have to reintroduce in the final double movie (which I guess is why they're doing it like that). As just a movie though, it does hold together well.
It does do a seriously bipolar balancing act in a lot of ways... there's a lot of very, very funny humour to it (mostly due to Rupert Grint and a love potion... Daniel Radcliffe and a luck potion... plus Emma Watson whacking people with stuff), but there's a hell of a lot of pain in there too... more so than I remember there being in the book... or maybe it's just something that is easier to skim over when it's the written word, but harder to ignore when you're seeing it on people's faces.
And once again my hat has to go off to not only the three young stars, but also all the supporting cast of young actors who surround them, and have surrounded them from the very first film. I think that it says something about the ability of their acting that they've all returned for the last six movies (unless of course a number of them were contracted for all of the movies way back when, but that seems unlikely). And none of them more than Bonnie Wright and Tom Felton, although for very different reasons.
Bonnie refines the strength she's developed in Ginny Weasley during the last couple of movies and makes it obvious why Harry feels the way he does beyond mere plot machinations. Whereas Tom, after being very much forced into a minor supporting role in the last couple of movies, brings Draco Malfoy back with such venom and pain that you really do feel for him not only in the final scenes, but during a very brief moment of torment in a bathroom my heart broke for him.
And he also gets big snaps in the General Hotness department, even if his haircut is just that little bit too Hitlereske, and there are a couple of scenes early on where he's channelling the ugly for his performance something fierce. Also big with both the Hotness and the Creepy is Frank Dillane as Tom Riddle (age 16)... even if I couldn't work out if they'd given him weird contacts or not. And yes, the whole gay world seems to be going gaga over Freddie Stroma thanks to some random video of him dancing around in his underwear in a modelling way... but while he's cute enough, the character really is a complete git...
While the movie clocks in at around two and a half hours and never really pauses for very long, there really isn't a lot in it. Which isn't really the fault of the movie... the book is very much like that too... it's setting up a lot of the groundwork for the final book, so in a lot of ways it's condemned to be The Exposition Fairy, imparting valuable information without that much plot of it's own.
Even the reveal of the titular Half-Blood Prince is pretty much thrown away... because, honestly, by that point it really isn't particularly important any more (I do have a vague memory of the book spending much more time and effort on the identity of the Prince, but it's pretty much a big fat furry MacGuffin that's completely inconsequential).
There are a few other things that I generally look out for in a Harry Potter movie... one of them being whether or not the paintings in the background move on their own... and honestly we really don't spend enough time in the parts of the castle where there are that many paintings which made it slightly disappointing that they didn't make more effort when we did. But that's really a minor point, because for the most part the CG is outstanding... although I did feel like we've seen the Inferius designs before... they feel like a bad Gollum knockoff maybe.
It wasn't enough to bother me that much though... and by the end of the movie I was so invested that even though I knew what was going to happen, and even though I've never liked Michael Gambon's version of Dumbledore (although I will say that I think this is possibly his best of the series), I still made with the aforementioned girlyman crying.
And while I think I'll need to see it again, I think this may very well end up being my favourite movie in the series (so far anyway).
yani's rating: 9 missing canaries out of 10