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A Late Night Trip to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

July 15, 2009


To be completely honest, I have no place reviewing the new Harry Potter movie. My writing approaches readable at best, and I’m not nearly nuanced enough with the English language to properly critique a doughnut let alone a Hollywood production. Although, Hollywood has proven itself incompetent which makes this a match made in heaven.

I decided sometime this afternoon that instead of working on my serialized article on Internet community I would go see the Midnight Showing of the Harry Potter movie. Seeing as how I have a huge Wednesday in front of me I crashed to recharge the batteries before the show. This led me to be in a slight stupor during my jaunt to the cineplex closest to my house. Now I live in a pretty decent part of the city, but you kind of have to cross through the ghetto to get downtown from my place. This always leads to interesting situations, and tonight was no different. I see a hefty, down on her luck type lady coming towards me and I decide not to make eye contact as I don’t really want to be late. It is after all a midnight showing of a cultish movie, and I don’t need to be fighting anymore 14 year olds. Never the less, this lady asks me if I have a dollar so that she can get home. I explain, honestly, that I do not and she regards this and turns away in acceptance. Then she turns back and says would I take her home instead? I lie, and tell her that I’m on my way to my girlfriends house (don’t worry ladies, that was a ruse). She begrudgingly accepts this and mosey’s on her way. I guess a stunningly handsome man with a unemployment/pedophile beard has options, sweet!

I arrive at the newly renovated theater about 5 minutes before showtime and don’t see the line yet. I make my way to the ticket counter and take out my money. The youngster behind the counter says, “Which movie would you like to see sir?”. Say what kiddo? It’s Midnight Premier of a single movie, what fucking movie do you think I’m here to see?

Shaking off this gaffe, I make my way into the lobby area and see the line. Holy fucking hell that is one massive serpentine line. First thing I notice is that nobody sent me the memo. I’m 5’10” and yet I’m one of the shortest people there. Fortunately there’s a couple small ladies in front of me, which makes me feel better as I mock them in my head. Not nearly as many costumes as I had presumed, after all the midnight showing of The Dark Night was full costumed people. The crowd is also much older than I would have expected. There’s quite a few people rocking facial hair, although I think mine is the only facial hair that could be confused with a pedophile. Since I don’t have a calculator on my, I would put forth that the Median age was about 26, while the Mean age was about 22. I guess it kind of makes sense, as the books started coming out over 10 years ago. I look around some more and it seems like an overly average crowd. There’s seniors there, and young children of bad parents there as well ( come on it’s a midnight showing, small kids should be in bed. Why the hell are some of the guys wearing suits though? You don’t have to wear a suit all the time, even though Barney Stinson does. What’s with the early 30’s woman in the 4 inch heels, your at a Harry Potter movie for fuck sakes, and the 17 year old wearing a short skirt and Uggs should probably go off herself.

I get into the theater and take a seat right in the front row. Front row kicks ass, you have room to spread out and you get to indulge your anti social behavior as nobody else sits in the front row unless needed. Fuck sitting by some loser, when you can sit by yourself. God I’m awesome. The lights dim, people start cheering, and fuck off you losers. The lights come back on, the guy running the projector was playing a joke and he’s my new random hero for the night. Previews and commercials start. Predictable Telus commercial. That company sucks balls, and can asphyxiate in a fire but I would make love to whomever picks the music for their commercials. This is followed up by a U2 ad for Blackberry. You lost me at U2 Blackberry.

The first preview is for some children’s movie by the makers of Spy Kids. The song in the background is Kickstart my Heart by Motley Crue. What’s wrong, you couldn’t get the rights for Closer by NIN. It’s a kids movie, why the fuck is Motley Crue remotely associated with it. The world is going to shit I tell you. The next preview is Guy Ritchies Sherlock Holmes. It’s a new trailer, and although I’ve never seen the first trailer I can honestly say that I never thought that I’d care about a Sherlock Holmes movie. I guess I was wrong, way wrong.

The movie starts and the first scene opens with Harry sitting on a Diner. He hits on this really attractive woman, with a super sexy accent. I don’t remember this from the book but when you throw out three quarters of the book I guess the details aren’t important. I notice that for a “Dark” movie, there seems to be quite a bit of brightness in colors and lighting. I don’t know if this contrast is a juxtaposition of the whole light vs. dark or the cinematographer and art directors just weren’t quite up to task.

In the early quarter of the movie the pacing seems quite slow. It’s been a while since I read the book, but it seems that they’re setting something up that we never quite get a payoff on. The middle part of the movie is dominated by angsty teens. It’s a little dissapointing, but seeing as it’s about teenagers living through troubling times I’ll let it slide. The last half of the movie, the pacing is definitely not slow though. The story zips by and before we know it we’re at the end.

That’s the essence of this movies problem. It takes a 652 page novel and crams it into a two and a half hour movie. David Yates does a great job with his limitations, but you lose far too much of the original story. When Hollywood can take a 30 minute sitcom from the 70’s and turn it into a 90 minute movie, then Harry Potter just seems robbed of what it could have been. The Lord of The Rings Trilogy for example is about 1300 pages (in the edition I have), and that ran at 558 minutes. So in comparison 1300 pages got turned into 9 hours and 14 minutes, while a 652 page book is turned into 2 hours 23 minutes. So for fair equivalence, the Half Blood Prince should have been 2 2 hour movies. At least the next book is being turned into dual movies.

So far too much is missing, and there’s no way that Yates could accomplish everything that he possibly wanted. I kind of wonder how JK Rowling signed off on the script though. It’s not like she was desperate for the money. She could have and should have told them to fuck off and make it two movies. The franchise is bankable enough that even with say a $300 million budget for the two movies, they would have still each likely grossed over 300 million each domestically. Where I’m from that’s a good profit, but as I mentioned Hollywood is full of ignorant morons.

Yates did get the best out of his actors though. I guess when you have 10 years to learn, and grow as a character you’re able to pull some acting off. Emma Watson was great, albeit with limited lines and Rupert Grint played the drugged potion victim excellently. That’s just the youngsters as Jim Broadbent, Allan Rickman and some of the other established actors have great performances. It really is a shame that we didn’t get to see more of them, as major characters were almost completely passed over due to the brevity of the movie.

All things being equal, I liked this movie. I might not recommend it to film buffs, but it had enough for newcomers and all but the strictest fans of the series. It put together very good acting, stunning visuals and varying emotions. I laughed out loud on several occasions, and the consensus laughter was more than that of several comedies that I’ve seen lately. I got a shock, jumped at a point where something happened even though I knew it was coming. I’ll even admit to shedding a tear or 20 when Dumbledore( If Big Daddy Drew can cry during Pixar movies, I can cry during this one), well I won’t spoil it for the non book readers.

So to repeat myself a little bit, Yates did a great job with the script he was given. It’s just rather unfortunate that, this was the script he was given. The young and old actors played their parts well and I’m rather pumped for the Part 1 and Part 2 of the last movie to come out. If you’ve read the books or watched the other movies, well you’re going to see this anyways, but if you’ve never partaken in the Harry Potter Universe, there’s enough here to satisfy you and well I suppose a date. Don’t expect Citizen Kane, but it’s not a simple little children’s movie like you might think either so don’t be expecting Ice Age. Go ahead and watch it. You will enjoy it.

3.5 stars. (I would have gave it more, but the pacing issues and the brevity detracted in my opinion)

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