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Archive for August 2011

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)

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And so it goes on, and the adventures of Harry Potter are just getting better.  Sick of hearing about him already?  Too bad.

Now that Voldy let the cat out of the bag that he’s returned, wizards are on the alert and Death Eaters are becoming more and more conspicuous, attacking people and wreaking havoc left and right in the Muggle AND Wizarding World.  Harry’s back for his sixth year at school and he’s more buddy buddy with Dumbledore than he ever has been – if possible.  He’s got Harry taking “Voldemort lessons” and the two of them learn about the dark wizard’s haunting past.  Meanwhile, besides Harry’s night job with the headmaster, his sixth year at Hogwarts isn’t at all boring.  Snape’s finally made it as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry is a master at potions with a little help from his mysterious second-hand textbook, and word on the street is that Draco’s the latest member of Death Eater club… and he’s crying in the bathroom.  Oh, and he’s supposed to kill Dumbledore.

I have seen every Harry Potter movie in the theater, most on opening day, some at midnight, but Half Blood Prince came out while I lived in Tahiti.  So I saw it in French.  And if a movie can still be entertaining in FRENCH, then it’s got to be a pretty good movie.  Then, when I finally saw it in English, tears were flooding left and right and I was, to put it lightly, blown away.

Here’s what I love about this installment.  It takes its time.  It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s emotional, it is as realistic as you can get for a movie about wands and broomsticks.  It’s human.  One of my favorite scenes takes place at Harid’s hut, where Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) gather around mourning for Hagrid’s demon spider pet, Aragog.  I didn’t know that I could get choked up over that vicious beast’s death.  It’s just so honest, complete with swelling music, Fang the dog howling, and Slughorn makin’ up eulogies.

It’s also funny.  Like, lol worthy.  The romances, though break ups and heart ache still inevitably ensue, are more mature than the high school type pairing off that was goin’ down in #4 and #5.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of snogging.  And let me just say that Jessie Cave as Lavender Brown is incredibly entertaining as Ron’s main squeeze.  But from Quidditch to Christmas dates, there isn’t a dull moment.  The excellent writing coupled with the impeccable deliveries of the actors mesh together so perfectly.

“She’s only interested in you because she thinks you’re the chosen one!”
“But I AM the chosen one.”

“That’s my Won-Won!”

“What do you think he sees in [Ginny]?”
“She’s smart, funny, attractive… ”
“Attractive?”
“Well you know, she has nice skin.”
So you think he is going out with her because she has nice skin?”
“Well, I dunno, I’m just saying it could be a contributing factor.”

On that note, I’m also glad that they gave Quidditch one last chance.  If only to see Weasley King teach those Quaffles a lesson.

The fearsome threesome are at their best.  Rupert Grint is funnier than ever, Emma Watson is, well, still good… she didn’t need much improvement, but she’s awesome.  Daniel Radcliffe has found his niche as our rugged hero, and he finally captures the emotional intelligence that our character in the novel is going towards in his later years.  Alan Rickman is still the ultimate bad-A and Tom Felton gives his best performance to date.  But man, I wish they’d done his character differently in the earlier movies.  It doesn’t mean so much to see him crumble underneath the pressure with him being such a weenie in the first films.  But, whatever, at least he’s better.  Jim Broadbent probably takes the cake for giving the most intriguing and complex performance.  I always thought that Slughorn was an interesting character but Broadbent really took him further.  I love how he and Harry interact.  Helena Bonham Carter is still good as crazy lady Belatrix Lestrange.

If all that weren’t enough, Michael Gambon finally earned his keep as the esteemed Albus Dumbledore.  I haven’t been a fan of him thus far, and he’s still no Richard Harris, but I wouldn’t have cried over him if he hadn’t of done an above-par job.  I’m sorry for hating you so much before, Mr. Gambon.  I respect you now and love what you did with one of my favorite characters.  That’s all.

While they weren’t able to throw it all in (can they ever?) David Yates did a fantastic job with Tom Riddle/Voldemort’s back story.  Meeting the enemy with haunting special effects and an amazing performance by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin was everything I could have asked for as a Potter nerd.  Yates is the mannnn, and boy am I glad that he’s got charge of the rest of the series.

Lastly, the ambiance is wonderful.  Every scene is beautiful, whether it be the architecture of the castle or the beauties of the grounds.  “I’ve never noticed how beautiful this place is,” laments Harry.  This is the calm before the storm -and it was already pretty stormy.  But any remaining bits of normalcy are blown to bits in the last two installments.  Also, the music by Nicholas Hooper is absolutely breathtaking.  Watching Dumbledore bring out the big guns in the creepycreepy cave would not be what it is without the tear-jerking accompaniment.  That scene is also one of the bets in the film.  I needed a freaking bucket to collect all those tears.  It’s just so sad… and heart wrenching… and everything.  Golly, it’s amazing.

Probably my favorite installation thus far, but we’ve still got two to go.  That might change.  9/10

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