Friday, July 17, 2009
My review of the Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince film
I'm not one those people who demand that movie adaptations be 100% true to their source material. I, generally, feel that if you want the book, read the book, if you want the movie, watch the movie. The simple fact that the medium is different makes it understandable that the plot will be shaped differently according to what does or does not work on film. So I haven't had a problem with any of the changes made between the Harry Potter books and movies, thus far.
Until last night.
Its weird, I don't really know how to write this review because there are so many great things about the movie but to me the few bad things ruined the experience. I'll start with what I liked.
1. The movie looks great. The cinematography, and effects are all amazing and I love how these movies just get darker and darker to reflect the atmosphere of danger that the characters are living in.
2. The performances are the best yet. With every HP movie I feel like the kids show improvement but this was the first one that made me actually stop and take notice that, hey, these people are really great actors now.
3. Its funny. Easily the funniest Harry Potter movie and with all of the teen romance going on, it lends itself easily to comic relief.
4. Its all about character development and when you care as much about the characters as I do, its really interesting. However, the real question is will all the humor, character development, and cinematography be enough to satisfy?
Now what I didn't like:
This was the first HP where not only did they hack out huge parts of the story but they supplemented the film with completely original and almost always pointless scenes. They took a lot of liberties this time that I didn't understand the need for because everything they did was less cool than the original story. My biggest qualm is that it pulls all of its emotional punches. So at the end of the movie I'm thinking, it was funny and well made but it didn't move me at all. Its not epic, its not intense and it really should have been. Its like being handed cotton candy when you ordered a steak. Really, all of this doesn't become apparent until the end of the movie where there is supposed to be a huge, crazy battle that the movie has very clearly been leading up to and then it just doesn't happen. What you get instead is the weakest possible version of what has to happen to set up the next movie. All in all, its a great movie that leaves you completely dissatisfied. I was so disappointed and it was the first HP that I didn't leave the theatre ready to see it again as soon as possible.
Also, why did Richard Harris have to die? And why did they cast Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in his stead? Over the course of the four movies that he's had the role, he's done so many things that make me go "Hey, Dumbledore would never do/act like that." I keep thinking that he'll grow on me, and I think Order of the Phoenix is the closest he's gotten to doing so, but he never does, really. He's just not Dumbledore. He doesn't embody the kindness, courtesy, and omniscience that Richard Harris very effortlessly displayed. When I saw those first two movies, the thing I was most impressed with was the casting. Every single person was exactly as I pictured them and Dumbledore especially. Half-Blood provided him ample opportunities to show that he really got the character of Dumbledore but instead, like always, he gave a performance that really makes me wonder if he's ever read a Harry Potter book. I find myself wishing that Sir Ian McKellen had deemed it prudent to portray two white wizards in his lifetime.
So, my overall opinion is that this would have been the best Harry Potter ever if it didn't go limp in all the wrong places. Still worth seeing, still worth owning, still a million times better than Twilight.