Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Helena Bonham Carter
Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Adaptation, Sequel
Running Time: 2 hour. 33 minutes
Release Date: July 15th, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG

Review: I have waited so long for this film, and I am so excited it is finally here! Of course, I managed to successfully convince Hubby that the Tuesday night midnight showing was the way to go. Seeing the very first screening of each new HP film is kind of a tradition of mine, usually involving braving incredible crowds and a loudly chattering/cheering crowd during the film, but its usually really fun. As we arrived at the theater one hour before they would start letting people into the theater, and took our disgruntled places at the far back of a line that looked a mile long - and that was only the for theaters 9 & 10! - and settled in for a long wait among throngs of drunk teenagers, fanboys in full Griffindor gear, and parents with small & very excited/exhausted/wired on sugar kidlets usually way too young for this time of night.

By the time they started to let our line into the theater, more people had filled in behind us, and our back-of-the-line position had been made into middle-of-the-pack. Still, as we filed into the theater all remaining empty seats were either "saved" for someone using sweaters, shoes, and what have you, or spaced out one by one in between scores of filled seats. We managed to find two seats next to each other in the front row, aka The Worst Seats On Earth, and settled in for the previews, fully knowing that we would feel thoroughly crippled by the end of the night from sitting completely deformed, necks tilted at a full 90 degrees, in order to see anything at all.

As soon as the movie started, however, I forgot all about the awful seating arrangement, and got completely absorbed in the sixth installment of one of my favorite book series. I do love these characters, and how well they have been made to come alive by these perfect-for-the-part actors, and how true they are to the original material. I love how the films capture their charm, humor, and love for each other. The casting has been brilliant throughout all the films, and veterans and newcomers alike did a fantastic job once again! Visually, as well, HP6 is just as stunning as the previous installments. Stunning!!! For me, these films truly captures the essence of the books, completely bringing them alive, and 'The Half-Blood Prince' is not exception.

However, the deviations from the original material was not appreciated, nor necessary, but really quite disappointing. I would have hoped that Mr. Yates would have known better than that, especially since this is not his first go at the franchise. The deviations really bothered me during the film, even though I have not read the book in a very long time, certain omissions were blatantly obviously absent, particular regarding the end of the film. And, actually, as I drove home and the razzle dazzle of seeing this film for the first time wore off, I realized more and more hugely important details were missing. Today, I'm feeling quite annoyed about those missing pieces that really should have been included.

I am quite puzzled why Mr. Yates decided on these changes. They seem to serve no other purpose than to mark his territory. They only subtracted from the story, in some cases very much so, and I'm sure many fans will be irritated by it. Keeping the integrity of the material intact, especially in a multi-directorial, epic and very loved series like this one, and thus preventing yourself from indulging the need to be different just to be different from your predecessors (Alfonso Cuaron - I'm looking at you), is hugely important! Any & all dick-measuring contests and urine-marking territory battles should be avoided at all costs, and I really wish a contract stating so would have been enforced as Mr. Yates was hired in the first place. I am a bit boggled by his decisions, especially since the majority of the film is superb, as was his previous work with the series.

However, after all that praise & complaining, I will say that I really did enjoy the film. For the most part it is great, and definitely worth both the ticket price, and the wait.

Grade: 8.5

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