Friday, July 31, 2009

Review: A Non-Wizard's Take On Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince

Let's be frank: I am more of an HP skeptic than hater. To me, my relationship with a children's book series that has sold more copies than Gone With The Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird is like candy corn. You keep trying it every year, and keep remembering how much you don't like it. Wands will never be light sabers, and broomsticks will never be speeder bikes. Dumbledore will never be Obi-wan, and Hermoine.... Well, let's just say I'd take Hermoine, Padame, and 1977 Carrie Fischer for a roll in the hay that any nerd would delete all their WOW macros just to see as ASCII art.

In addition to the books, you might say that the movie series has had its successes as well, with the last four movies hauling in over 5 billion friggin dollars in box office sales alone. So when the latest offering Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was pulling a somewhat impressive 83% on the popular movie review aggregation site, I decided to suck up my reservations about the series and give it the ol' college try. After all, the critics are never wrong. Mostly.

In case you weren't aware that the Hogwarts crew was going through changes, this movie really brings the gun to the tickle fight. After about an hour through the movie, I noticed this recurring motif - awkward and contrived tension between all of the preteen love interests. It was agonizing. I think if you timed it, those scenes would've accounted for 60-70% of the film's total runtime. With this, the standard Harry Potter magic and spells, and the cheesy Lifetime movie-esque music, I couldn't help but feel like I was watching a 3 hour long episode of the NBC soap Passions. And like Passions, the movie even had a little person.

Clearly, making a feature length film adaptation of Half Blood Prince was a tall order, and director David Yates has surely delivered a watchable followup to 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. But considering the onslaught of tiresome acting, the utter vacancy of fun or action, and a true-to-form HP movie formula of trying to recreate instead of innovate, you can Qui-ditch this one.


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