Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

So I went to the midnight showing which was definitely a lot of fun. There were all sorts of people dressed up in various goofy outfits. The theater had even labeled the different theaters as though they were different classes at Hogwarts. I was kind of surprised the employees weren't dressed up. Obviously this movie is going to be huge, I mean the theater was having showings at 3 in the morning because so many people wanted to go see it.

That being said, here's my review: It sucked. Now I can imagine I'm going to have a lot of people screaming at me for that and I'll give my reasoning, but I suppose first I should give my Harry Potter background. I have never cracked a single one of the books. It seems like any time there's movies made from books, that's the first question you get from somebody. So I can imagine I'll get berated for that one already. Now, I have seen all of the movies, most of them multiple times. I'm not sure how many times I've seen The Order of the Phoenix, but I know it's sparse compared to the rest. That being said, my favorite one is the 4th movie, and I liked the 5th a lot too. I think you'll be hard pressed to find a bigger proponent of the movies than myself though. Most people I know that have read the books constantly lament that they just don't live up to expectation. Movies and books are different forms of communication, people need to just get over that. But seriously I love the movies. They're fun, exciting, they have good morals, the characters are very likeable and interesting. Maybe they're not masterpieces as far as a lot of directing and acting, but they're enjoyable. It's almost like I'm a kid again when I watch them as my imagination runs wild. Seriously I love the movies a lot, so I'm not a Harry Potter naysayer or anything like that. I'll admit, I'm probably being a bit harsher on this movie than maybe I should be, but when the bar has been set and the movie just does not live up to it, that's a serious problem. And I'm not necessarily saying this is about expectations that this movie would be great, but that the other movies had been so good that it seemed out of place. So take my firm evaluation with a grain of salt.

Now I'll give my spoiler free review of the movie. First it kind of bugged me that a lot of the lighting seemed a bit odd. It almost reminded me of something like 300, in that it had this hazy computer graphic tint to it for a lot of the movie which just seemed weird. There are portions of the movie in which Harry is looking at memories and this effect is exaggerated, and at those times it's sensible. However, the tint that seemed to exist during most of the movie just seemed weird and unnecessary.

The cinematography is gorgeous. Of course, like it is with a lot of newer movies, I often wonder what is real and what is simply CGI. It's really impressive to see the scenery, both in world landscapes and the details of the different rooms. I can't believe all of the miniscule details they have worked out as far as different elements of all the different rooms and such. The costumes are still great as well.

As far as the acting goes, I think the majority of the characters give pretty similar performances to what they've given thus far. If you thought the acting was good recently, you'll enjoy it now. And for the most part, I'd say the acting was quite good. However, there were a lot of things with humor and such that really seemed forced, especially early in the movie. They just seemed like they were trying too hard for a laugh. Also, Dumbledore seemed like his acting was a bit different this time around and almost out of place. It just seemed odd.

Now, why did I trash this movie so hard? The plot. I'm not going to go into the specifics right now for the sake of anybody that may not be familiar with the Harry Potter storyline, but frankly I felt like I watched a movie that was two and a half hours of not much of anything really relevant until the end when, BAM!, there's a rather dramatic change. It just seemed rather odd and so disappointing. There was very little advancement of the main storyline of Harry versus Voldemort and it just seemed really odd. This movie just didn't have the same sort of fun or excitement of the others and didn't seem as interconnected as the others.

I guess a lot of it was I felt more like I was watching a drama than the Fantasy/Adventure movies that the others have been. This movie just did not follow suit and I'm sad that it turned out so poorly. Hope the next two redeem themselves.


Stella said...

Yea, I can totally see why people who haven't read the books would feel let down by the movie... I read in some interview that the writing team or whatever decided that most of the people who were going to go see the movie were people who have already read the books and are big fans, so they didn't really feel the need to explain a whole lot of plot background... so they just kind of threw a lot of stuff in there that would please book fans and we would know what was going on. Sorry you didn't enjoy it. As someone who has read all the books at least 3 times I was very pleased. Though, of course, there were certain things that didn't live up to my expectations. (i.e. the Harry/Ginny romance storyline totally sucked in the movie)

Amanda said...

I agree with you completely about the plot. There was no real narrative arc in this one. It's like the writers tried to braid several different side plots into one strong plot, but it just didn't work. Having said that, though, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I think it helped that I have watched the first five movies recently in preparation, so it felt like an extension of the last one or a preview of the next one--I just don't really see it standing on its own very well.

And yeah, the fuzzy light thing the whole time was weird--not because it looked bad or anything, because I thought it was cool and fit with the increasingly complex (relatively speaking) portrayal of characters like Snape and Malfoy and Dumbledore--it was just so unlike the other movies in that way so it sort of drew more attention to itself than it probably should have?

Speaking of Malfoy--doesn't he just get better and better with every movie? I think so...

squirrelyearl said...

It's not so much that I didn't like the movie Stella, it's more a matter of understanding and appreciating context of past performances. The other one's were on such a high level for me that this one was a real let down.

Amanda, I love the fact that you appreciate my view point of the plot. I'm also glad I wasn't the only one who noticed the coloration.