Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince

Who's in It: All the Harry Potter regulars plus Jim Broadbent

What It's About: Surprisingly, this is actually the one film in the series that ISN'T about someone trying to kill Harry.

What I Was Expecting: Let's see. It's the SIXTH film in the series, so basically, I was expecting to see how ugly the once cute kids have gotten over the last two years.

What I Got: To be honest, I'm torn. As Harry matures, so do the films. Much less focus on the action, which might explain the attack on the Weasley house, which I don't recall being in the book. Nothing had gone BOOM in a while, so.... For me, the film is paced brilliantly. The scenes that aren't all that important are short and usually montage-like. The scenes that do matter are fleshed out and take their time. Quite the opposite of, say, "The Prisoner of Azkaban" which feels like a 150 minute montage on repeat viewings. The students in this film are allowed to play to their strengths. Daniel Radcliffe, who keeps getting better, carries the film nicely. Emma Watson, who seems to get worse with each film, seems to just get a scene here and there. The kid playing Ron might as well have sat this one out. He wasn't very good, but he wasn't given much to work with anyway.

Grade: A-

Oscar Potential: With the new rules, Oscar potential is huge. If it's a weak year, it will not be shocking to actually see a Best Picture nod. It won't be a contender since there won't be any nods for directing, acting or writing. Editing, Cinematography and Sound are possibilities. Oddly, there's very few special effects.

Five Random Thoughts:

  1. It was really nice to see Alan Rickman being used more often in this one, although there is not one single scene showing Snape teach Defense of the Dark Arts. Harry's inability to silently cast spells was interesting to me and I was a little disappointed to see it left out.
  2. I hope they are shooting Maggie Smith's scenes first for the last two films. She looks like can't be with us much longer. For those not in the know, Deathly Hallows will be split into two .
  3. How has screenwriter Steve Kloves not lost his mind yet? It's one thing for J.K. Rowling to have written the seven books. It's another thing to basically spend 10 years rewriting someone else's work. I can't help but wonder how many times he must have called Rowling to scream "If I'd known that would matter, I would've written it in 4 movies ago!"
  4. By the end of the series, David Yates will have directed half of them. Will he have any career after the series is over? Both his films feel like Rowling is on the set saying "This is how it should look" and Yates just runs around the set with a camera. It's not directed badly, just not very creatively. Of course, the same could be said about the first two films.
  5. Why did John Williams walk away from the series? Yes, I know he left after the third film. Just curious why.

Trailer Park:

2012 – Another mega disaster film (figuratively and literally) from Irwin Allen Roland Emmerich, who brought us Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow (Irwin Allen is responsible for 70s disaster classics like The Towering Inferno, Airport and The Poseidon Advernture). Who the hell knows what the actual plot will be of this one other than that ancient civilizations were right and the world is ending? Looks horribly stupid and I will be seeing it opening night, since my one true guilty pleasure in film is crappy disaster film. I can't get enough of them.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - Can I just say I look forward to the day when there is once again economy in film titles? Anyway, this was little more than a teaser that presumes the viewer has even heard of these books. Apparently, it's like a Harry Potter meets Greek mythology in modern day New York. Okay. I'm game. Right until the words "Directed by Chris Columbus." Sorry. Not gonna see it.

Despicable Me - It's a little daring to preview a movie starring Steve Carrell and not include any of his scenes. If the trailer is any indication, too much set up for too weak of a punchline. Although the Keith Olberman bit is cute.

Sherlock Holmes - Why do I feel like I've written about this one 100 times? Come to think of it....where are all my other reviews? Hmmmm..... I think Guy Ritche is capable, if not consistent. Curious to see how it's handled. My one major concern is the girl floating with the pentagram in the background. I hope the plot involves occult and not the supernatural.

Shorts - Well, the kids in the audience thought this was cute and got quite a few giggles. Just not any from me.

Where the Wild Things Are - It's been 30 years since I've read the book and I can't remember a single detail about it. Possibly because I grew up in a Norman Rockwell home. My friends whose parents split when they were young or had traumatic childhoods remember every bit of it. It looks fascinating to me. It's certainly been a long time coming.

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