15 July 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Oh Harry Potter, how I have missed you.

dumbledore awesome

Harry Potter was pretty much the defining force behind my college years. I read the first four my senior year of high school. The fifth I bought while on a family vacation in Italy. While everyone else was soaking up the sun on a Mediterranean beach, I was sitting on our balcony reading a copy of Order of the Phoenix that I’d bought at the Rome Termini station. I sat outside the Richmond Waterstone’s for the midnight release of both Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows – each was finished the same night.

I’m the Nerd Heroine and I am an HP fangirl. So take the following with a grain of salt. They could have done the movie in claymation and I would have shilled out nine bucks to see it. Also, spoilers. If you intend to see the movie and haven’t read the books – well, first of all what’s wrong with you? Second, I will be revealing minor stuff. Major stuff shall still be hid.

Contrary to what I’d read, it wasn’t as dark as I was expecting it to be. After Order of the Phoenix, I was half expecting to leave the movie in tears with a desire to kill myself. All in all, I think this didn’t have the same air of desperation that OotP did. It did have its moments of course; by which I mean, and all forgiveness to cross-referencing here, Why so Sirius Dumbledore? Although I knew it was coming, it still made me tear up.

That said, I think this was by far the funniest of the Harry Potter movies. It was partly the energy in the theater, and partly because it is in fact very very funny. On the flip side, I don’t think it has been ever more obvious that Harry Potter, and indeed the Harry Potter franchise, has grown up. Even OotP still seemed like kids playing a game with grownups. This is the first time the characters are allowed to stand up for themselves as adults on their own terms.

I remember being annoyed with the sixth book because it focused so much on the raging hormones of being an adolescent. And while I remember what I was like as a sixteen year old, I have no desire to relive it. It was played well in the movie and I didn’t want to shoot any of the main characters. Lavender? She can go away forever.

And! What was with Ginny tying Harry’s shoe at the Burrow? A woman two seats away went “What!?” which made the whole audience laugh as we were all thinking the same thing. She made herself subservient to him. Ginny was always shown as being more than Harry’s equal. What was up with that? I kind of wrote it off as romantic awkwardness, but it wasn’t very well played if it was. But she then chased after him into the flaming fire of non-canon fiery death OMG! so it all rather of evened out for me. I know you don't have a huge appearance in the last book, but be more awesome Ginny.

Total Spoilers: Yeah, they left out Dumbledore’s funeral. In the book it offered a denouement after the Battle for Hogwarts: Origins. In the movie, the original Battle for Hogwarts never happens. Bellatrix, Greyback et al show up, hang out taunting Draco for a bit [and yay Tom Felton, he had like three lines, but the lurking and scheming was awesome], watch Snape kill Dumbledore and waltz out. Harry gives chase, Snape becomes snarky. The end. There’s no need for a denouement. Nothing happens – well, other than the obvious. The emotional catharsis comes from the wands-held-high memorial the students and staff give Dumbledore. And it works well within the movie. [Denouement? Catharsis? Yes, I took AP Literature, why do you ask?]

Oh! And the bit with the Inferi on the lake where they kept showing shots of the water and the music was like 'La la la nothing to see here' and everyone who read the book knew that shit was about to go down. But it didn't and didn't and didn't and by the time it did my feet were in my seat and I was watching the movie with my hands over my ears and my eyes half-closed. Well played, Mr Yates. Well played indeed.

It is a good Half Blood Prince movie. I personally would have included different scenes and a slightly different tone, but it wasn’t my movie and the one they made was pretty damn good.

All that’s left is Deathly Hallows I & II. The Potterdämmerung is here y’all. I’m stocking up on canned goods and 1,084,170* words of magical goodness.

Production Sidenote: I have never believed Michael Gambon looked so muck like Ian McKellan as he did in this movie. When he was at the top of the Astronomy Tower at the end, I kept expecting him to bellow 'You shall not pass!' at Malfoy. He's a great actor and all, and this was one of his finer performances, but Michael Gambon will unfortunately always be a poor man's Ian McKellan for me. Sorry Mr. Gambon!

*Serious, that’s the total word count of the Harry Potter books. I cried when I found out my senior thesis was supposed to be 15,000 words. JK Rowling laughs in the face of lesser prose - mwa ha ha!

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