The latest Harry Potter flick (HP6)

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is the must-see film for the school holidays around our nick o’ the woods, what about yours? And if you’ve seen it, what did you think?

And what did you think of the trailers for upcoming attractions?

  • I reckon they better do a really good job on Pelham 123 if they want to top the original rather than just being a two-headed star vehicle for Denzel Washington and John Travolta (probably still worth watching, but worth cinema ticket money? (Rotten Tomatoes says probably not)).
  • Shorts looks to be a quite delightful kids movie (I loved Spy Kids, so fingers & toes all crossed, and James Spader is a baddy again (yay!)).
  • The new Vanessa Ann Hudgens flick Bandslam looks like a good career move to cash in on all the High School Musical fanbase yet move her along more into her own actual age group, but will it be worth watching? Didn’t look to be quite my cup of tea.

Back to Pottering: since it’s so long since the book came out, spoilers should not be a big issue (if you wanted to read it you would have done it by now). If you haven’t read the books but still enjoy the films and anticipate some surprises in the plot twists, then best avoid the rest of this thread.

Now, as FP pointed out, where the hell was Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix in the fight against the Death Eaters at Hogwarts? And prior to that, where was the sense of impending menace as the Death Eaters killed wizard after wizard amongst the families of the students, resulting in ever expanding slots of empty seats in the dining hall through the year? There’s a nod to it all with the attack against the Weasley household during the school holiday break, but what about all the other wizarding families who were attacked and suffered? The attack feels like gratuitous magical fireworks instead of part of an escalating threat.

The writers/directors sacrificed all that tension, tragedy and bravery to focus on the adolescent moonings of our principal characters. Some of those segments were quite well done and certainly well received by the audience I saw the film with today, although there was some dreadfully hammy acting going on (thank goodness for the delightfully underplayed eccentricity of Luna Lovegood). But on balance, did these criss-crossing crushes and pinings need to displace the dark and doom to quite this extent? It made the battle at the end and the sacrifice of Dumbledore seem tacked on instead of a naturally tragic outcome of previous events. I may have my issues with some of Rowling’s prose stylings, but her ability to build a dread atmosphere hanging over Hogwarts through character traits and narrative moment piled on narrative moment is truly impressive, and the film writers weren’t able to catch hardly any of that.

There were lots of moments in this film that I enjoyed while I was watching it, but on the whole its narrative was disjointed, and it fails to leave a lingering aftertaste of satisfaction. The average reviewer for Rotten Tomatoes gives it more credit than I feel able: enjoyable but not great is the best I can manage.

Categories: arts & entertainment

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6 replies

  1. Good assessment. That is what I was trying to put my finger one. Aside from that I enjoyed it, but there was something slightly off. The beginning felt slow moving enough that the buildup would have fit well. *shrugs* Beyond that I felt it was one of the better adaptations of the series thus far. I also got to see it on IMAX in 3D, so I am a little biased. I should have taken some tissue because I am that girl…

  2. Good post. Like Ouyang Dan, I felt there was something missing, but not enough that I didn’t like it. The past scenes with Tom Riddle were all good. Luna was good.
    The increasingly missing seats would have been a good touch; I don’t know if they were afraid of it “competing” with Dumbledore’s death, but that would have been a groundless fear.
    I think they were trying to build a sense of normalcy that they could shatter. But the normalcy is already shattered after the fourth and fifth films – better would have been to it a hollow edge, like frightened people clinging to an illusion of normalcy.
    Weird omission: while they said who the Half-Blood Prince was, they didn’t include the explanation of why the phrase applied to him.

  3. @SunlessNick,

    better would have been to it a hollow edge, like frightened people clinging to an illusion of normalcy

    That would have worked so much better for me, and would particularly have given an edge to the snogfests amongst the senior pupils – not just teen libidos, but urgent escapism as well. It probably would have gone over the heads of some younger viewers, but would that be so bad? High school snog sessions tended to have their anxious side anyway in my experience, so if that was all that younger viewers picked up on it wouldn’t matter.
    Still, I think it’s easier to write a book for different emotional maturity levels than it is to write a film that works as well on different levels. The visual lexicon is still too broad-brush.

  4. I really liked the movie, and it was a far cry better than flops I suffered through like Transformers 2 and Terminator. From the largely positive reviews and rumors of the better acting of the cast, I was expecting a little bit more than I got. Luna, Draco, and Slughorn were amazing, but Ginny was terrible, Hermione wasn’t much better, Harry was one-dimensional, Ron was only the comic relief, and Snape was way too over-the-top. The way they turned Lavender into a simpering moron also irritated me. I also immensely disliked the changes they made to the book, especially to the ending and the exclusion of important plot points, like Greyback’s disfiguring attack on Bill Weasley, who wasn’t even in the movie at all! The scene in the tower when Harry is frozen and has to watch Dumbledore die was one Rowling’s crowning moment of angst. I can’t believe they changed that and had Harry just puttering around beneath everything, totally unhampered.
    I also thought that it would have done a lot better if they had just decided that it was okay to make it PG-13. The entire thing was shot as a horror flick, which worked well for it, but the PG rating prohibited them from putting in the bloody bits and made the teenage hormones comically inane rather that realistic.
    Overall, I’d say that I liked it, but between the way they treated Lavender’s character and the ending, my feminist and book-purist sensibilities were offended. Also, Ginny was so ghastly that all of her scenes I couldn’t bear to watch.

  5. I haven’t seen the latest Harry Potter. I’ve only seen the first which I thought was fairly bad – flat, inert and overly literal. Though I’ve heard acouple of them who were directed by a fantastic (literally) Mexican director, whose name escapes me, were very good.
    But there’s many other films out there other than Hollywood blockbusters. If you live in a major Australian city and you want to see some other forms of representation, there’s lots of choice. If you want to see films directed by women you could try ‘My Year Without Sex’ (Sarah Watt). Coming soon will be ‘Blessed’ (Anna Kokkinos), ‘Beautiful Kate’ (Rachel Ward), ‘Bran Nue Dae’ (Rachel Perkins).
    If you want to see films by Indigenous filmmakers, try ‘Samson and Delilah’ (Warwick Thornton) – possibly the best film you’ll see all year, the aforementioned ‘Bran Nue Dae’ an Indigenous musical, or ‘Stone Bros’ (Richard Franklin) , which will be released in September and is a comedy/road-movie. Or you could see ‘Bastardy’ (Amiel Courtin-Wilson) a magical documentary about Jack Davis, an indigenous gay man, actor, junkie and cat burglar.
    If you want to see non-mainstream represresentation, by people other than middle class white boys, then go and support those films and others like them. They don’t have the marketing budget that ‘Harry Potter’ has to let you know they’re there, but they are. Though I must say ‘Balibo’ (Rob Connelly, a lovely middle-class white boy), is well worth a look. As is ‘Mary and Max’ if you can still catch it.

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