Thursday, July 09, 2009

Half Breed Prince

Nobody noticed my tweet on the way to a Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince screening yesterday. I thought I'd get a parade of "I'm so jealous" remarks but I must have obscured the 'I'm about to watch it' message with the corny joke that I hoped Cher would record a theme song
half bloo-oood, that's all i ever heard

half bloo-oood, how i learned to hate the word

that half blood's Potion Book was no good they warned

Hermione was against it since the day it was found*
*I realize that 'found' does not rhyme with 'warned' but Cher can warp any vowels until they rhyme. She's magic. Just think of found as 'foo•wrrr•n'd'.

Of course we're not allowed to talk about the movie just yet -- not that that's stopping 99.7% of critics from posting their reviews. So this will suffice: if you loved the other movies, you'll love this one, too. If they're hit and miss for you, this one will be too. That's my useless you-knew-that-already early review! I'd personally rank the movies like so but, again, I'm not a Potterhead.
  1. Prisoner of Azakaban and/or Order of the Phoenix
  2. Half Blood Prince
  3. Goblet of Fire
  4. Sorceror's Stone
  5. Chamber of Secrets
Alan Rickman continues to be a standout as Snape --->

The first two are the only ones that felt like full movies to me while watching them (i.e. stand alone enjoyments, requiring less reading of the books or watching of the other movies to fill in blanks), the third being a fine "this week on Harry Potter" episode the fourth being a pretty good episode and the 5th and 6th being... Oh hell, let's not talk about the first two. They're supposed to be magical but they're just so mugglical instead (cinematically speaking you understand. I'm aware that they're filled to overflowing with spells and wands and potions and such). I can't even talk about Chris Columbus right now. I'm so mad. Yes, I also saw I Love You, Beth Cooper this week and, no, I don't know why I did that either.

As you noticed in the "Stweep" posts, I love skimming the twitterverse to see random movie reactions. That not-actually-time-consuming past time is suddenly less pleasurable. Now if you type in the name of a current movie, just to see what peeps are saying, you mostly get an endless series of "watch this movie free online!" links. Piracy is bad but, more importantly, SPAM IS BORING. It takes so little time for spam to destroy the joy of any particular social networking site. Now I just have to get sneakier about what I type into search engines and I have to eschew full movie titles. Here's a few Potter tweets to go.

As someone who spends too much time on the internet, mockzallad's dilemma amuses.

Oh and Jim Broadbent is terrific as Slughorn. Such a reliable thesp, that one.

franklinveaux is right. Aside from Dumbledore, it seems to me like every adult in the books and movies -- at least for the first handful of books -- always makes the wrong assumptions and decisions to give the books conflict and to prove that Harry & friends are always right. It makes it easy to follow and plays as wish fulfillment for the bajillions of young readers/watchers. I'm less sure why millions of adults respond to the 'kids are smart, adults are dim' plots, though. Curious.
Are you excited for the movie? If so, which part?


rosengje said...

Is Ralph Fiennes actually in this one or it is it just the different incarnations of Voldemort? I haven't read the book in quite some time...


he's not in it really. the book is about them searching through memories of him so it's only younger actors.

Howler said...

There are two smart adults in "Harry Potter", aren't there? It's still kind of irritating, though.
As far as I can remember, Ralph Fiennes should be there for a while. But I might be wrong.
"Half-Blood Prince" is my favourite book of the series, but I somehow can't believe it transfers well to the screen with PG rating.

NoNo said...

Well, I'm a Potter head and I would rate the films almost exactly the same (I haven't seen 1/2 blood of course so that wouldn't be on my list yet). However, I find that most Potter heads rate the movies on how accurate it is to the book and not on it's own merit. Honestly, I could care less. If I wanted to get a word-for-word adaptation...I would just read the book. I think people forget how faithful these books are compared to other book/movie adaptations.

I think the reason why adult respond to they "kids can outsmart adults" has less to do with youth and more to do with authority. I would compare it to "employees are smart, employers are dim" or "children can be smart, parents can be dim" or anything similar to that. I also think that anyone can relate to knowing your right and everyone disregarding you for some mundane reason (age, position, etc.)

I'm most looking forward to ending because I know they added a new scene not in the book and I want to see how well they pulled it off.

And since I can't see this in I-max because of Transformers. I really hope this crushes them at the box office since m beloved Star Trek could not.


NoNo you raise great points actually, making me rethink my annoyed stance on that smart/dim factor. I mean, you're meant to relate to Harry Hermione & Ron first and foremost so maybe it has less to do with age.

but i've always thought the series (which has a lot of fantastic little elements) would be much greater if there were more shades of grey overall. I was always so sad that Slytherin = evil no matter what. Talk about predetermination of people's choices, character traits (which seems to defeat the message that people shouldn't be dismissed outright because of age/position/experience/weirdness, etcetera)

as much as i'd love for Transformers to not be #1 of its years, Half Blood Prince would have to make more than any other potter film to beat it and given the very sturdy box office of the series... i can't see how it could top $350

the stats

Harry Potter #1 $317
Harry Potter #5 $292
Harry Potter #4 $290
Harry Potter #2 $261
Harry Potter #3 $249

Transformers is already at $305+ and its' only been out for two weeks. Sniffle.

Kevin D. said...

I am most excited to see my beloved Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange once again. Is her part slightly larger in this film than in the 5th nathaniel? it should be, and I would certainly hope it is.


slightly larger yes. but even though the film is 2 hours and 33 minutes there's not much time for anything in particular what with all the horcrux and teen romance business to attend to.

Seeking Amy said...

The thing about the HP movies for me is that I am always so reluctant to see them. I like the books quite a bit - and actually have quite a bit of wizard rock on my itunes - but everyone time a new movie comes out I sigh and wait till much later to see them, pretty much getting dragged to see it. I feel the same about what i've seen of H-BP. But then I see them and usually end up really liking them. Except I cannot sit through the 2nd and 4th ever again, those are the weakest for me (and my least favorite of the books too)

OoTP is the most fun out of the five, but I love the atmosphere in PoA, I think its the best, and the whole time turner sequence was handled wonderfully, a really pleasurable experience.

Rebecca said...

I'm excited about Helena Bonham Carter & Jim Broadbent. Also, it marks 2 years with my significant other (from when 'Order of the Phoenix' came out).

Joe Shetina said...

How I love Cher's cheesy 70s songs.

These movies are so hit-or-miss for me anyway. As much as I dislike Chris Columbus I did enjoy the first two.

Loved Imelda Staunton in the fifth one though. Great casting.

Matt said...

Hey Nate, how was the cinematography from twice Oscar nommed Bruno Debonnel? It has been getting raves in the early reviews.

Daniel Armour said...

I've only ever read some of the first book and a couple of pages of the last two books (basically just to see how they ended), so I'm not a major potter fan in that sense but I am a significant fan of the film series.

I mostly agree with your ranking of the film series thus far, although I'm more definitive about Azkaban being my favorite film of the series (it was one of my personal BP nominees in 2004). As for HBP, I bought me and my Best Friend's tickets for the midnight showing two weeks ago, so that should tell you my level of anticipation for it.

Criticlasm said...

My vote is for three as well as the fave, if only that it's so set in nature that the magic seems much more natural. Not so CGI, and I really respond to that.

And I do think the adults don't listen, aren't necessarily sharp, but that's what all kids lit is built on--that the kids have to do it themselves. And JKR's brilliance is just hitting on so many standard themes but not making you feel like she is. Or at least that's my take.

Chrystal K. said...

I have yet to see a Harry Potter movie.

kin said...

I am excited about the fact that Michael Gambon should be able to deliver a great performance.


kin gambon is really good in it, yes. very mysterious commanding.

matt the cinematography is good but if you're talking Oscar I'm totally guessing we're looking at yet another art direction nomination for Stuart Craig, the Weasley house being awesome.

Derreck said... the Cher rhyming. I can honestly hear it in my head.

Anyways, i'm too excited to see the film because i loved the last one (ORDER OF THE PHOENIX) so much. Plus, the films always tickle me with their perfect all-Brit (or at least to my knowledge) casting with Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort and HBC as Bellatrix.

Alan Rickman as Snape was flawless in my head because he is exactly who i imagined would play him when i read the book.

HALF-BLOOD PRINCE is my least favorite book (it always felt like filler to me) but after seeing the final trailer, i could hardly contain myself. I thought the whole scene with Dumbledore casting that ring of fire was stunningly awesome.

and speaking of Dumbledore, i liked Richard Harris' portrayal to be better than Michael Gambon's. Harris put a kooky, off-beat, paternal performance to Dumbledore which was consistent to how he was in the books. Gambon as Dumbledore always seems to be lacking something. I can't put my finger on it.

Anonymous said...

but i've always thought the series (which has a lot of fantastic little elements) would be much greater if there were more shades of grey overall. I was always so sad that Slytherin = evil no matter what. Talk about predetermination of people's choices, character traits (which seems to defeat the message that people shouldn't be dismissed outright because of age/position/experience/weirdness, etcetera)

Um I don't know if you read the last book at all, but it put a lot of emphasis on what you just talked about. So I'll leave spoilers out. Slytherin doesn't necessarily mean evil obviously, Slughorn, Andromeda and Draco ( there are more , but I'll leave those out)weren't evil and Wormtail a gryffindor wasn't exactly a saint. Neither was Umbridge ( who was NOT in Slytherin). I just thought of it as Slytherin (Founder) picked people based on the traits he liked. So they all had similar personalities which aren't exactly evil. Most of Voldemort's followers were Slytherins, because he was one. It would be kind of difficult to rally up supporters from different houses because he wasn't around them as much. So obviously they would raise their children with the same values etc. So I didn't really take it as Slytherins were evil it's just that a lot of them had the same values because they were taught that way by their parents (obviously some of them rebelled against their parents).

Actually none of the Slytherin students Harry went to school with proved to be evil (except maybe one). Sure some of them were bullies, but you could also say that about some of the kids from all of the houses. So that case is kind of mute.

PJ said...

Yeah the whole black and white, good and evil dichotomy of the series is completely broken down in the last book; the character most likened to evil, and the one given more immediacy than Voldemort due to his proximity to Harry, is proven to be very much a shades of gray character. And Dumbledore, the ultimate embodiment of good, as constructed throughout the series, is pushed into the grayness and thus actually humanised to a great extent. The first few books are quite simplistic thematically, but their deeper meanings are only apparent in retrospect.


pj and anon 11:27 who i wish would have used the Name/URL option to comment...

i have read the first two books and the last two. And frankly i think the shades of grey stuff you're talking about is too little too late. And the books have reinforced this notion of Gryffindor is right and good for far too long for some minor "i'm not COMPLETELY evil character improvements" to redeem them.

Anyway, I like the movie franchise well enough now after its lame start but I am so so worried about The Deathly Hallows. A third of the book is a crashing bore (hundreds of pages in a tent arguing? No thanks) and while the rest of the book is good, I can't imagine why, other than for cheap profit motives, you'd need to split that into two films?

Half Blood Prince is actually a little like Rowlings writing in The Deathly Hallows. It takes it's sweet time getting to the climax and then the climax feels all truncated like the wizard battles are an afterthought. Like, oh yes. some fights now to end the book.

I wish they'd show as much care with the action as they do with detailing the sleuthing of the students


howler about the PG rating. I don't really remember how graphic Half Blood Prince is... but the movie is not very violent at all (it is dark but that's just the cinematography ;) The characters are always talking about how dangerous everything is and how many people are disappearing but you don't really see any of this.

that said it seemed faithful to the book from what i remember of it: search for horcruxes, the snape/lestrange/malfoy stuff, the slughorn intro and dumbledore's voldemort memories.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that you should've READ the other three books. Because Snape had shades of grey from the beginning and Wormtail was clearly no good since he was first mentioned. Andromeda was mentioned in the fifth book. I don't know that many people who thought Draco was evil a lot of people liked him and there were bullies in the other houses. I really don't see how you got that Slytherin is evil because of one person and his followers. I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", Harry is the dim one, in falling for Voldemort's silly trick. Personally, Hagrid and the Dursley's are the only semi-dim ones. The teachers are all quite smart and intelligent, and excellent wand duellers. Hagrid's a bit lovingly dim witted, and the Dursley's are morons, but I can't think why the teachers are stupid.