Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Movie Reviews: HP & the Half Blood Prince

The last truly great movie i remember watching at the cinemas was Nolan's The Dark Knight, and after watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, i must say, David Yates, and his band of young, highly paid actors did an almighty injustice to one of the more character defining books in the series.

J.K Rowling's sixth novel is one of the more traditional books in the series. The first two books were slightly introductory, was more about the adventure than the characters themselves, and the depth of character on show, both in the books and their film adaptations were limited, and with each consecutive novel, we have been exposed to the true nature of the characters, how they think, how they feel, what they do and do not like, who they are and are not romantically interested in, and what motivates them to do what they do.

Half Blood Prince is very much a story based upon the premise of Harry not liking Slughorn, but having to follow Dumbledore's orders to extract THAT memory from the potions professor. It carries on
the undercurrents carried on from Order of the Phoenix, of how the battle between good and evil has caused fissures between the Ministry and Dumbledore, and how the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore is strained post the Battle at the Ministry and Sirius Black's death. The book is essentially a growing up story, of how Harry, Ron and Hermione grow into their minds, body and the task that lies ahead.

The film adaptation, at best, flatters to deceive, and in the cold light of day, is simply wrong. There are plot holes everywhere, Yates tried to change things in the plot to make things more interesting for the viewers. A few scenes, the bridge exploding, the burning of the house, and the many scenes of awkward attraction between Harry and Ginny, as well as the "heart-break"/ unrequited love scenes between Hermione and Ron, are portrayed with a look to the future, but the accuracy of the plot is compromised in the futile attempt to make things easier to film. Changing the details of the climax was always fraught with danger, how are we, presumably not having read the series, meant to make the connection of trust between Harry and Snape, the helplessness of Harry being trapped in a "full-body bind" and the betrayal inherent in the scene?

The directorship of Yates, I believe, has collared the young actors, and in both of his movies, the acting skills of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Bonnie Wright and Tom Felton have all been rendered surplus to requirements, none of them have been able to infuse their own personalities to their characters, leaving many of their scenes devoid of emotion and warmth. Order of the Phoenix saw many scenes of over-acting, pointless action that instead of adding value to the film, did exactly the opposite, but also some rare and telling signs of acting skill in the younger cast. Although all the young actors gained valuable experience away from the realms of Harry Potter, David Yates seems to have chosen to ignore all the evidence that they can act.

Its unfortunate that the final pieces of the jigsaw is to be directed by Yates as well. Hopefully the powers at be will reduce the length of leash afforded to him for creative license, and sticks to the major, and minor details of a great story, otherwise, many, if not most of my generation would wait for the inevitable remakes in 5-10 years.

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