Saturday, August 1, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

"Harry Potter and the Delay of the Inevitable"
"It Means It Was All a Waste. All of it!"

One must admit to getting weary of this series, now on its penultimate episode. At this point in the story, one should be quaking with anticipation for the concluding chapter (it'll be two, unfortunately), but instead one finds oneself, as previously, unmoved.

Whether this is a problem with being so faithful to the source material by J.K. Rowling (she does have to give her approval) for the author or the Faithful Readers, it's hard to say (although Alfonso Cuarón's "Prisoner of Azkaban," which magically took a meat-axe to that outing is still the best of the bunch). As in the last two "Potter's," a new character is introduced (Jim Broadbent as Professor Horace this series going to end without Christopher Lee, Helen Mirren and Terence Stamp showing up?) and a few go missing (no Dobby, none of the past "guest-professors,") more of the love-life complications for the Big Three (Harry, Hermione and Ron—which one is beginning to realize Rowling set up from the first book), an incidental Quidditch match (which only served to show that the groundskeeping is starting to lack at Hogwarts), and the death of a Significant Character.*

The series' inability to make you care about the passing of characters, when it's becoming more than apparent that the learning of death's inevitability is the major life-lesson in orphan Harry Potter's life (and that appreciating the magic that is there in living is the other), is a major stumbling block in the film series. It should be the spine of the films, and not merely by repetition. Having long since lost interest in the magic arcana of the Potter series (they add a love potion, with the usual sit-com results, and a "luck" potion—which Potter star Daniel Radcliffe embodies with a hilarious "slacker" slouch, nice choice, that), this deadly undercurrent is given short-shrift, no matter how dark the films become in subject matter or art direction.** That this all started with the boy-mage's parents' death and will end, as the targets strike closer and closer, to a predictable climax and dénouement is a sure thing. It's readily apparent that a "fix" is in, and one hopes that by cleaving the final book into two movies that the Potter franchise can find a way to make it interesting, film-wise, rather than just doubling profits. One hopes, despite the evidence of the "Half-Blood Prince."

Still, there are a few things to acknowledge. By this time, the series is only too aware of its cliches (original scripter Steve Kloves is back) and pokes fun at them (Maggie Smith is given the best line: "Why is it when there's trouble, it's always you three?" and one of Radcliife's best lines is "Actually, sir, after all these years I kind of go with it" Indeed!), there are the usual neat little touches of legerdemain being ignored by the principals in the corners of frames, and say what you will about the series, look at the parade of actors who've traipsed through Hogwarts' revolving doors: Richard Harris and Michael Gambon, Dame Smith, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall, Julie Christie (!!), Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, Miranda Richardson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter (she's terrific in this one, and given more screen-time than the previous film), Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, John Cleese, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Julie Walters, Jason Isaacs, Robert Hardy, John Hurt, Zoë Wanamaker, Ian Hart, and, best of all, Alan Rickman, whose Professor Snape continues to imply more and more while emoting less and less. These pictures become a notch more interesting every time he's on-screen.

One hopes that he's on-screen...a the next two.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is a cable-watcher.

* At least this one is significant, the audience having spent more than fifteen minutes of screen-time with this one. The others—Cedric Diggory (pre-"Twilight" Robert Pattinson) and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) barely registered as major tragedies, which they should be!

** There are seven special effects houses in the employ of "Half-Blood Prince"— not a lot for the current special effects extravaganzas—the most prominent of which is Industrial Light and Magic, which seems to be gearing its effects work more to the murky look of the WETA workshop, in the "Lord of the Rings" films.

Yesterday's Answers:


Scotty said...

Unfortunately the film didn't hold anything but a candle to the sun in comparison. I might say it was rather foggy, not a light in it's own right. Harry potter and the half baked script" is what my friend called it. Too long, pointless, dead plot, awful.

Simply a waste of money on the creator and viewers part.

Yojimbo_5 said...

Scotty, thanks for the comment!
Always good to hear from our resident mage on such matters.

John said...

It's amazing to see such a big budget film miss the mark so badly. When Bumblefuck actually died, the movie made me care not one whit. This film had exactly one moment that made me smile... and it was when Harry Palmer is acting a bit drunk on the Luck potion and points out that Haggard's spider pal might have been more popular without the huge nasty mandibles.

All the love foibles BS made some of the worst movie-watching hours of my life.

Yojimbo_5 said...

We seem to be in sync, then.

Yojimbo_5 said...

On second thought, "Big budget" has next to nil to do with quality. Inspiration is the key. Rowling has done a great service in making Harry Potter the pilot light for an entire generation's literacy, but the movies are flat, and not through want of trying.

It's that they're stuck with the aggressive time-schedule to get them all done before all the kids grow up and out-grow their roles. Plus, the director for the last books is a TV veterean who can crank 'em out, but not put a spin on them. The producers don't care that the films stand on their own as stories—they're just trying to get them out the door before the bank closes. None of the deaths have resonated...not a jot.

Himu said...

seriously I did not like this movie,my expectation was too high,and it really make my disappointed :(
Hope for the best for the next movie
Watch movies online

Yojimbo_5 said...

Thanks, Himu.

I don't want to be a nanny, but it's always a good idea to refrain from clicking on links included in messages unless you know what they are.

Himu's is for a service to download movies-the same movies you can play on your computer from Netflix that I've seen.

Just a play carefully out here in the intra-webs.