Wednesday, 15 July 2009
REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Remember when it was going to be One Harry Potter film per year? If that had remained the case, I'd be reviewing the last Potter this very second, but that always seemed like a pipe dream anyway. Before delving into this, the sixth Potter film, I should get into my own HP back story. I was age 10 when the now phenomenon was first finding its feet and couldn't get enough. I read the books, I heard the narrated tapes read by Stephen Fry, I even had Potter bedsheets for a time. But here's the thing; I got older and the Potter books got longer. And longer. The fifth book, in particular was a travesty of self-indulgent writing and was a 150 page novel stretched out to 5 times that. It was such a turgid and time-consuming read it essentially smothered the inner child who fell in love with the thing in the first place and left only a self-superior teenager who'd come to the conclusion that he'd had quite enough of this shit. I wikipedia'd the plots to the final two to satisfy my curiosity and that was that. So, anyways.
Director David Yates certainly did his part visually speaking, he brings the gloom both in style and in the more literal use of ever-present Grey skies. In this use of pathetic fallacy ( because I'm smarter than you) that Yates creates much of the mood. Plot wise, this is somewhat stronger than Order of the Phoenix, and the increased screen-time of some of the adults was certainly appreciated, as it continually makes me laugh that the Potter franchise has pretty much every single talented British actor to breathe in cinema over the last 20 years and most of the jobs revolve around standing in the background. Rickman continues to rule as Snape, every enunciation as awesome as the last, its hard to imagine anyone more perfectly cast in anything really, even real films. Michael Gambon does more with Dumbledore this time around, at times making him a real character rather than the sagely Gandalf-lite archetype he is on the page and the screen. Helena Bonham Carter enjoys snarling and whispering her lines, and I enjoyed her doing it. She is definitely a stronger cinematic presence then Voldemort in these films. Finally the only other adult worth mentioning is Jim Broadbent's Horace Slughorn, who in between hamming it up has a couple of noteworthy moments. And now to the kids, whose acting in many ways has been the major downfall of this series. Sure they're kids, but I've seen much stronger performances from the age-deprived before, and if Chris Columbus had cast the first film a little more carefully, these could have been truly great popcorn movies. The least annoying are Evanna Lynch as Luna, and to be fair Rupert Grint as Ron, who has been the strongest of the lead three for at least the last three films. Radcliffe isn't as bad as he's been before, and falls more into the level of bland, but still fails to nail his more dramatic scenes and now he's only got one more try.
But all this is redundant. The kids are gonna like it and it will make enough money, here's hoping it beats Transformers 2. But its not what you could call a great movie, none of them are really. One only needs to watch the LOTR movies to see the difference and the Potter movies can't quite let go of their kiddie shackles the way they needed to to improve. Even less so than JK Rowling did. But Potter is popularity defined and thus it is entirely critic proof