The Night in Review
I really try my best to do everything 100%. That includes welcoming the opening of the Harry Potter and the Half Blood-Prince, the sixth installment to the J.K. Rowling’s billion-dollar franchise. That’s why about thirty close friends and I transformed my house into the entire wizarding world. My parents are just happy to see teenagers get this excited about books and a PG movie so they didn’t mind the giant golden snitch hanging from the ceiling fan. Upon everyone’s arrival I was very proud: everyone in attendance was in full costume.
After taking pictures and drinking our own homemade versions of butterbeer (cream soda and butterscotch) and Felix Felicis (lime sherbet punch) we piled into cars and made our way to Evans 14 Cinemas. Tickets purchased via Fandango a week in advance in hand, we smugly passed by the people in the box office line who were discovering that the midnight showings of Half-Blood Prince were sold out all across the Augusta area. Only in a group of thirty would I have the courage to strut around the theatre in a turban with my friend (dressed as Voldemort) walking back to back with me. (Fans of the first film get it? Professor Quirrell with Voldemort? Well, I thought it was clever.) Although midnight showings do not produce the quietest viewing experience, they can double as a social event. I saw almost the entire Greenbrier High literature department, old middle school friends, family friends, and surprisingly enough, my priest. Again, proud. Midnight finally came, and my heart rate doubled as the theatre erupted into applause when the Warner Brother’s logo appeared and the Harry Potter theme song chimed. “It’s been a long two year wait,” I thought to myself.
The Movie in Review
The initial press for Half-Blood Prince has been favorable, especially compared to its predecessors. As an avid fan I’ll always have a problem that every moment from the books cannot be featured on the big screen, but overall this movie scored some major house points. (Muggle translation: It was a success.)
What I liked:
1. Director David Yates has grown more comfortable in the wizarding world, and his style makes a fresh and fast-paced movie. He changes it up just as the films were beginning to grow formulaic.
2. The effects are more impressive than ever. These are wizards, you know. They need to have an impressive amount of spectacle.
3. Quidditch made a comeback.
4. Draco Malfoy’s story arc was very well developed. It was easy to see his characters internal struggle and moral dilemma.
5. As always, the adult British actors are top notch. Although not as pot-bellied as I imagined, Jim Broadbent played a convincing Slughorn.
6. The unbreakable vow scene.
7. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) didn’t shout or scream.
8. The screenplay effectively balanced the darkness of the war against Voldemort with the lighthearted whims of teenage romance.
9. The cave scene.
10. Young Tom Riddle. He sent chills running from the screen directly up my spine.
11. Although Dumbledore did not freeze Harry as in the book, the final showdown on the Astronomy tower was very well staged. It gave Harry a brilliant opportunity to make eye contact with Dumbledore seconds before the fatal curse was delivered.
What I disliked:
1. Harry Potter is not Fonzie. Why did the movie open with Harry scoring a hot date?
2. They need to stop slapping each other for comic relief. This isn’t a Charlie Chaplin movie.
3. They did not show Ravenclaw’s diadem when Harry went to go hide his potions book in the Room of Requirement. That would’ve made bridging that together in the final movie a lot simpler.
4. The music score wasn’t on par with the other films.
5. Who said they could destroy the Burrow? That death eater attack was not in the book. Yes, it was a great action scene, but what purpose did it serve in the storytelling?
6. Dumbledore’s funeral was cut. Big mistake. We need closure. In fact, the ending was kind of abrupt and awkward. I think it failed to adequately setup the seventh book material.
It was however, a great movie and a great night. Until 2010...