The Night Out: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009), or Just Imagine What Wizard College Will Be Like For Harry…

18 07 2009

Ah, the modern blockbuster. It’s a strange creature. In the days of antiquity, legend speaks of heroic men, titans with bold names emblazoned onto the firmament, who made blockbusters for the young and old alike. They tried a little of this and a little of that so kids would be enthralled and adults would be at least entertained. It was a novel idea, and while the results were not always what the doctor ordered, it made for an experience highlighted by variety. Today, the blockbuster franchise films work much like a set of Baby Einstein videos, or, for a more evocative example, crystal meth. A studio will plan to hook the most priofitable demographic, children, with the first movie (or in Harry Potter‘s case, first two or three movies), getting fans to flock in by the truckload to their fun and fancy frolic. And then they wait. By the time their next movie is produced, the kids have grown a little bit and they want more daring in their daring-do. All one has to do then is use the same formula from the last movie, but add a single twist to adapt to your original demographic’s age. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Now, in the past eight years, Harry Potter fans have grown up quite a bit from their youth/tweenie Sorcerer’s Stone years. They demand quite a bit from this originally simple tale of magic and wonder. They’re teens now; they demand darkness, they demand brooding, and they demand death. Author and evil overlord J.K. Rowling has heard their cries loud and clear, and indeed finished off the series with more darkness and death than you can shake a wand at. So all the movies should have to do is coast along with the evil vibe and connect the dots all the way to the bank. But, surprisingly, the directors of the Harry Potter film franchise have refused to take this matter as a mere goof. They’re going the extra mile by actually innovating, a concept that the studio didn’t actually think about when they were concocting their dastardly plan. Today’s Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, makes leaps and strides to keep things entertaining for everybody concerned, which makes me a happy wizard.

I’m not going into the story. It would take too long. I’d be here until the end of time. Instead, let me give you a link to the Wiki page on the film series. Is that lazy? Incredibly, but it’s much more convenient for you in the long run so you don’t have to cut through my thick and pedantic vocabulary to get the info you need.

There. Feel caught up? Good. This time around, Harry is significantly less bitchy and annoying than in previous installments. Daniel Radcliffe is coming into his own as an actor, and Harry is slowly catching up in terms of character. His friends are essentially the same from throughout the series, although now they have crushes on each other, a sure sign of emotional maturity. One character who really comes alive here is Draco Malfoy, the perennial villain for Potter’s age group. His character blooms here for the very first time. No longer do we have the same old snide rich kid, but a flesh-and-blood teen forced into a hopeless situation. He is put in a horrible predicament that places him at odds with himself for the first time in his life. Other characters turning heads include the normally-invisible Ginny Weasley played by Bonnie Wright and the enigmatic Severus Snape played by the Ultimate Gentleman, Alan Rickman.

Another mainstay to the blockbuster Potter franchise that director David Yates makes use of is the spellbinding (HA!) special effects. All I can say is WOW. This has some of the best looking CG animation that I’ve seen in a while. The landscapes are divine, the action is flawless, and the CG creatures feel as real as you or I. One scene, in an unnamed quartz crystal cave, is absolutely spectacular. Yates knows that what a teen wants isn’t necessarily the deeper workings of good and evil, but rather a badass looking werewolf and eye-popping magic effects. It might not be mentally stimulating in the slightest, but at least it’s honest.

What’s very interesting about this movie is its meta-intelligence. Half-Blood Prince isn’t peppered with any intellect, but rather it shows a savvy street-wisdom by NOT playing dumb. It’s entertainment, to be sure, and most people could probably tell that Harry Potter has about as much sociological or intellectual relevance as a bag of crisps (British joke). But unlike many summer blockbusters, I don’t feel like a douchebag while watching it. I can hold my head high (well, kinda high) when I walk into the theater and purchase my ticket. There are no fart jokes, brain-draining puns, or anything involving black robots in this series, so I can fall asleep at night knowing that I saw a Hollywood feature that didn’t just insult me.

It’s a good movie. Compared to the rest in the series, I’d actually call it the best one yet. Harry Potter has really come into his own, whether we’re talking about the character or the franchise. This is the culmination of years of growth and maturation on the actors’ parts, the directors’ parts, and even the evil studio’s part, so kudos to everyone involved. It’s a job well done, and I’m in no way ashamed to admit my enjoyment. I give Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince 8 1/2 lazy Wiki links out of 10. Enjoy!

Tomorrow is a surprise film! Come back then and I’ll tell you all about it!

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