Sunday 19 July 2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Year: 2009
Director: David Yates
Screenplay: Steve Kloves
Starring: You should all know by now.

I've never been surprised that middle England loves Harry Potter. To me Rowling's Saga is full of so much pompous elitism that if you were to replace the word magic with money in the books and you'd have a public school love in that would have Enid Blyton dibbling with approval. I unfortunately have not enjoyed them. I've found Potter to be quite dull. OMG!1111!! BLASPHEMY I hear someone cry. Not really. I just don't share the same opinion as others, and before anyone comments about how my OPINION is wrong, at least I tried to get into these books (many times) unlike others who derided it without reading a page (and there's many who do that).

So it's nice to watch something like HP6 (I am not writing bloody half blood prince every time) and enjoying the affair for the most part. I've got issues with it but it's a solid family film with an actual plot (take THAT revenge of the fallen) and some well crafted moments.

I'll start with the good then shall I? One of my main problems I've had in the past is that Potter himself to be a very empty vessel. Hailed as this chosen child, the charmless weed seems to merely ride his luck though everything that happens to him. Daniel Radcliffe's wooden performances have never helped change my view of this and I've just never got on with why this puppet is so special. HP6 changes that by giving him a stronger dramatic arc i had to wait until the end of the film but it's finally there. I'm now more interested in where they will take the Harry in the final film and here's why:

The film's pivotal moment which has been changed from the book. I'm sure there's only like 5 people that don't know what happens but I will respect people by not mentioning the event. Knowing what happens in the book and seeing what happens here as strengthens the arc for me given me something to grab on to and that is guilt. It's given him that little bit of drive that a cynical bastard like me can work with.

But it's not only the improvement of the character I liked, it was also the improvement of the young performances. With the main cast growing up and moving on to other projects, their displays are not as stiff. There's still a lot of awkwardness but now it's are combined with some nice understated moments which work. Because these polished touches I'm not just waiting for the old guard actors to get on screen and show them how it's done. I watching because I'm invested in what happens. I can't say that for other adaptations (here's looking at you Twilight).

Like the other movies, HP6 is visually interesting and Yate directs some involving set pieces, including a stunning cornfield sequence which to me is one of the best moments in all this years summer blockbusters. Due to the huge amount of plot (and teen angst) the film struggles in terms of pacing but even the films drier moments are watchable.

Of course being the arsehole I am, I can't like everything and HP6 doesn't escape my inane criticism. The films romantic sub-plots are hit and miss, and at certain points the angst is so unbelievably vomit inducing that I was quite happy I was near the aisle. Harry potter will also never get rid of that elitist superiority complex that had turned me off many of the other entries (if you didn't/don't go to Private school then your not special), however, in a lackluster summer blockbuster season, HP6 could have been a hell a lot worse.

Note: Another quidditch game? You gotta be fucking kidding me.

Listen to the podcast review here