Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harry Potter and The Mediocre Summer Blockbuster

As a decently sized fan of Harry Potter, I was kinda excited about Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. The book was an exciting and action-packed return to greatness after the slowness of The Order of the Phoenix. The movie was the total opposite.

The short version: It wasn't very good, don't go out of your way to see it.

The long version, there be spoilers ahoy. I'll catch up after the picture

The problem with The Half Blood Prince is that it misses the point. It tries really hard to hit all the big story points from the book, but does so in a sloppy, half-hearted fashion that left me feeling empty and unsatisfied.

Case in point: The Half Blood Prince Potions Book. In the novel, Harry happens across a textbook with all the answers previously owned by The Half-Blood Prince which Harry, being the sad orphan he is, believes belongs to his Dad (Spoilers: It doesn't!)**. The movie abandons all this and feels genuinely shackled by the whole thing. Gone is Harry's infatuation with who the Half Blood Prince is; gone is Harry using Dumbledore's flashback-o-matic machine to learn about James (his Dad), Siris, Snape, and Lily back in the day; and gone is the emotion punch when it's revealed that Snape is the Half Blood Prince. It's just... ugh. It's just something that happens, but I can't find the reason to care and it gets worse.

After the last five installments to the series setting up the villainy and ne'er-do-well-idness of Voldermort, this part was supposed to really show what the man could do. We had heard, in hushed tones, the horrid tales of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named had done the last time he was around, and now he's back with a vengeance. What catastrophes will be wrought against the world of man now that Voldermort is back? Apparently nothing that bad, according to the Half-Blood Prince. A collapsed bridge, a couple burning buildings, and making a mess in Hogwart's Great Hall, while kinda not cool, aren't necessarily the stakes-raising, horrible deeds that strike fear into a generation.

When it comes down to it, it's clear that the filmmakers would rather focus on Harry and the gangs burgeoning sexual tensions that they could care less everything else. That would be fine and dandy, except they screw most of the love stories up too. Harry is shown to have more than a hefty interest in Ron's sister Ginny, which results in a bunch of false starts that everyone can identify with. However they never do anything really substantial enough to show that say Ron has a huge issue with the idea. I wouldn't gripe all that much, except they jam a reference to the whole Ginny/Harry/Ron relationship at the end of the movie and it comes out of nowhere.

One minute they're talking about Dumbledore getting killed and then they suddenly change the subject to "you know Ron's cool with you dating his sister, right?". And then the credits roll. There was no big throwdown with Ron about him not being okay with it, no indication that he'd have a huge problem with his best friend dating his sister, no nothing, just a small awkward (intentionally so) scene about half way through the movie.

It's just not a good flick.

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince is a jumbled mess of teenage angst, goofy scenes, and neutered scenes of terror that completely miss the point of the story. This was supposed to be the first real showing of Voldermort's evil, something that should make us all afraid of what he could do and make us really fear for Harry's survival, instead I walked only fearing for Harry's fine China.

Sigh...See you in line for the seventh one!

** It's been brought to my attention that this isn't true and I'm misplacing my memories from The Order of the Phoenix. Harry thought the book belonged to his Dad for all of three seconds before remembering that his papa was purebred. Instead, Harry felt a connection with the the former owner of the textbook because he too is a half-blood prince of sorts. So when it's revealed that Snape is the Half-blood Prince, it really hits Harry because suddenly he has way too much in common with Snape than he ever wanted. Details aside, my point still stands: They totally missed the point of that answer-filled textbook.

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree, as you know. My biggest issue with the movie was that it failed to produce any kind of an impact. I feel like, with the (somewhat major) exception of Dumbledore's death, the end of the film is exactly the same as the beginning. The only growth that occurred was of the romantic sort, and Harry's relationship with the outside world (tabloids, etc) is unaffected.