Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter HBP: Mature and Magnificent

Hey World Family,
Falcon here feeling surprisingly chipper considering her serious lack of sleep (must be the 26 cans of Red Bull I consumed over the course of the previous evening; just kidding, you know Falcon doesn’t do that stuff…Mountain Dew Throwback works just fine). I promised you a review of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and you are getting it. May I simply say that it is the best Potter film yet, and was magnificently realized on screen. The acting, effects, compression of the telling, and the montages (very brief) were extraordinarily well executed.


The cinematography of this film is stunning; literally. There are moments when image and sound come together to produce an experience rarely had; I cannot wait for the IMAX 3-D of some of those same sequences.

There are some surprises in here even for book readers and these are pleasant ones, rather than unexpected gaffs as in some other films (I refer to, of course the middle child of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers where around 80 minutes into the film Aragorn goes off a cliff with a significant portion of the essence of the story right along with him). There are gentle and subtle surprises for readers throughout where the story has a different depth for those who have read the series. These are successful and make the overall unfolding that much more enjoyable.

As serious as the tone of this film is, there is comic relief in the form of slightly inebriated characters, love and crushes, and character Ron’s unusual techniques of defending the goals in Quidditch. His older brothers’ joke shop is a treat, and no one should eat those chocolates left on the bed!

The maturity of the young characters was shining through in fine performances by the ensemble of young people cast. Lavender is delightfully psycho, Seamus is growing up, but still as lovable as ever; Ginny is particularly enchanting, growing into a Hogwarts Eowyn, with strength, perseverance, and courage for two. The trio have come completely into their own, and their character portrayals have depth, light, and humor in the correct amounts when called upon. Draco Malfoy is tortured, frightened and forceful throughout, and Helena brought back Belatrix as demented and clever as ever. The young Mr. Fiennes makes a deliciously Omen-like young Tom Riddle, as does the adolescent actor, but the biggest, most impressive performances were those of Jim Broadbent (one of Falcon’s favorite actors ever) and Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore. They twist and turn together on screen and alone, and Gambon has now reached a performance level with Dan Radcliffe’s Harry on screen that fans had so hoped for several films.

There were tears last night (some of them cried as we had to sit through an excruciatingly long list of preview trailers, some good, some frightfully bad like 2012-sidebar: when will folks who have no understanding of Native American traditions and calendar systems ever stop trying to entertain us with their vapid ignorance of the facts? Yes, Mayans are Native Americans, thank you. Just venting…) and there will be even more today as younger fans take in the new film for the first time. Everybody show some love and be tolerant of those who need to grieve. Remember, many fans started reading this series when they were 8, 9, 10; being 18, 19, and 20 now means they grew up with the tales, so character stress may reflect on their own. It’s cool; allow them to express their feelings without ridicule or teasing.
All scenes are held reverently in the film, and all should stay for the credits at the end for a special experience.

This film is close to perfect. There are some things Falcon personally wishes were in that may make an appearance in a future Potter film in retrospect…but overall, this is a fine piece of filmmaking. In a summer weak on substance of any kind in blockbusters (smaller films have been good), this is an excellent diversion and worth every penny.

Peace…and get some sleep (smile)
Falcon and Dove

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