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*** Official "HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE" Discussion Thread


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#1 of 69 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 05 2009 - 12:27 PM

Variety has posted Todd McCarthy's review and it's significantly more positive than his review for Order of the Phoenix:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

 

Kids’ stuff is a thing of the past in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Suddenly looking quite grown up, the students at Hogwarts are forced to grapple with heavy issues of mortality, memory and loss in this sixth installment in the series of bigscreen adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s Potter tales. Dazzlingly well made and perhaps deliberately less fanciful than the previous entries, this one is played in a mode closer to palpable life-or-death drama than any of the others and is quite effective as such. Delayed by Warner Bros. from a late 2008 release date so as to spread the wealth after “The Dark Knight” scored so mightily last summer, this “Prince” is poised to follow its predecessors as one of the year’s two or three top-earning films.

Other highlights:

Director David Yates, after a prosaic series debut on the prior film, displays noticeably increased confidence here, injecting more real-world grit into what began eight years ago as purest child’s fantasy; messenger owls and chattering house elves have been superseded by a frank Underground tea-room flirtation, school security checks and raging teenage hormones. The sets have been stripped down to reduce Hogwarts’ fairy-book aspects and emphasize its gray medieval character, and even the obligatory Quidditch match is staged with greater attention to spatial comprehensibility than ever before.

. . .

But assessing the romantic entanglements is not nearly as much fun as simply beholding the big physical changes in the young actors, whose onscreen maturation will have been documented across the span of a decade when all is said and done. The biggest change since “Phoenix” two years ago has been registered by Tom Felton, who plays Malfoy; he’s now a tall stringbean in the Jimmy Stewart mold, with a face that’s come to resemble that of Jonathan Pryce, and he towers over Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry, who looks to be the shortest person in the cast (not true when Imelda Staunton was around).

Rupert Grint, as Ron, has always looked a tad older than the others and continues to while showing more character. Emma Watson, perennially appealing as Hermione, has become a very attractive young woman, and Bonnie Wright’s Ginny intrigues as the sort of initial plain Jane who keeps growing on you.

. . .

Among the always outstanding production values and top-drawer visual effects, special note should be made of series newcomer Bruno Delbonnel’s exceptionally atmospheric cinematography and Nicholas Hooper’s emotionally churning score, which contains only the slightest trace of John Williams’ original themes.

After two PG-13-rated entries, this one has won a PG, matching the first three. At 153 minutes, “Half-Blood Prince” is the third-longest feature in the series and seems just about right; “Order of the Phoenix,” at 138 minutes, actually felt too short.

Everything he says sounds encouraging to me. Now I'm waiting for Roger Ebert's review, because he pegged Order of the Phoenix closest to how I felt about it.

#2 of 69 OFFLINE   Ray H

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Posted July 06 2009 - 03:55 PM

Here's CHUD's review and it's glowing as well.

http://chud.com/articles/articles/20066/1/REVIEW-HARRY-POTTER-AND-THE-HALF-BLOOD-PRINCE/Page1.html

Sounds fantastic and I certainly hope it is. While I thought OOTP was okay, I've never cared to watch it again since it hit theaters despite owning it on DVD. The movie just annoys me in how it handled the material and I came to blame Yates for it despite loving some of his TV work. Looks like the franchise is back on track and in safe hands.

"Here's looking at you, kid."

 


#3 of 69 OFFLINE   DavidJ

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Posted July 06 2009 - 05:14 PM


Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Lenhardt 

Everything he says sounds encouraging to me. Now I'm waiting for Roger Ebert's review, because he pegged Order of the Phoenix closest to how I felt about it.
The early reviews are encouraging.  I saw the trailer before Public Enemies on Saturday and there was a nice round of applause for the trailer.  I thought it was the best think about my movie going experience Saturday.  I'm now officially fired up for it.

I went back and read Ebert's review because I was intrigued by your comment.  I like Ebert's reviews (not the star ratings) and can often interpolate my general reaction to a film by them.  For example, there are times that I can tell he's gotten hung up on something that bothered about a particular film and I know that the same thing will either bother me or it won't. 

In reading his Phoenix review, it seems to be most of his complaints had to do with what was actually happening to the books in the series and not the filmmaking.  He points to Harry's transformation from being wide-eyed with wonderment to a more serious sort.  He ends his review with the hope that "the series will not grow darker still."  His review really doesn't have much of a complaint with the filmmaking.  He seems more put off by the tone, but that is clearly in the source material.  What about his review did you connect with?

As far as the series "growing darker still," those that have read the 6th volume know that it does indeed become even darker, but one of the great things about The Half-Blood Prince is the contrast between the dark and moments of light and joy.  I really hope the film is able to capture it.




#4 of 69 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 07 2009 - 02:56 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidJ 

I went back and read Ebert's review because I was intrigued by your comment.  I like Ebert's reviews (not the star ratings) and can often interpolate my general reaction to a film by them.  For example, there are times that I can tell he's gotten hung up on something that bothered about a particular film and I know that the same thing will either bother me or it won't. 

In reading his Phoenix review, it seems to be most of his complaints had to do with what was actually happening to the books in the series and not the filmmaking.  He points to Harry's transformation from being wide-eyed with wonderment to a more serious sort.  He ends his review with the hope that "the series will not grow darker still."  His review really doesn't have much of a complaint with the filmmaking.  He seems more put off by the tone, but that is clearly in the source material.  What about his review did you connect with?

Well, to start with two and a half stars is about what I'd give Order of the Phoenix, too. But mainly, it's a matter of tone. The film is darker than the book, and worse, more single-minded. The whimsy was gone, something that never happened in Rowling's texts even when things were at their bleakest. Yates did a bang-up job getting Umbridge right. Unfortunately, her world view pervades the entire movie from the start, instead of slowly leeching away the wonderful parts.

I also had technical problems with the film that Ebert does not go into: the fragmented, overedited nature of the film that seemed to reduce it to a two hour montage without leaving many moments with enough room to breath. Dreary, underexposed cinematography except for the final few scenes. An awkward mix of verbatim dialog from the book that played wonderfully and invented dialog by Goldenberg that did not. Underdeveloped characterizations.

It didn't help that Goblet of Fire was my favorite Harry Potter film, so I went from Potter done as close as possible to what I wanted out of the films to my least favorite of the films.
Quote:
As far as the series "growing darker still," those that have read the 6th volume know that it does indeed become even darker, but one of the great things about The Half-Blood Prince is the contrast between the dark and moments of light and joy.  I really hope the film is able to capture it.
This is my hope as well. I felt like the balance was completely lost in OOTP, so the description of the film as a comedy with dark overtones came as pleasant surprise to me. The longer running time hopefully speaks of a less relentlessly paced edit. Bruno Delbonnel and I even love what I've seen of the monochromatic look he's crafted for this picture. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by Yates this time, since he's going to be in charge through to the end.


#5 of 69 OFFLINE   DavidJ

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Posted July 07 2009 - 04:22 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Lenhardt 


Well, to start with two and a half stars is about what I'd give Order of the Phoenix, too. But mainly, it's a matter of tone. The film is darker than the book, and worse, more single-minded. The whimsy was gone, something that never happened in Rowling's texts even when things were at their bleakest. Yates did a bang-up job getting Umbridge right. Unfortunately, her world view pervades the entire movie from the start, instead of slowly leeching away the wonderful parts.

I also had technical problems with the film that Ebert does not go into: the fragmented, overedited nature of the film that seemed to reduce it to a two hour montage without leaving many moments with enough room to breath. Dreary, underexposed cinematography except for the final few scenes. An awkward mix of verbatim dialog from the book that played wonderfully and invented dialog by Goldenberg that did not. Underdeveloped characterizations.

It didn't help that Goblet of Fire was my favorite Harry Potter film, so I went from Potter done as close as possible to what I wanted out of the films to my least favorite of the films.
Adam, thanks for taking the time to reply and I acknowledge that you make some very good points regarding the film. 

It's been a while since I've read it, but I think of Order as a dark book.  It takes the tone that is set by the end of Goblet and runs with it.  The reality of the situation permeates their everyday life and Harry is of course dealing with a lot of angst, longing, etc.  Since this is how I tend to view the book, I'm not bothered by the tone of the film. 

I agree with you that Order needed more room to breathe.  While I give them credit for somehow adapting the sprawling mess that is Order, it was rushed and crammed into a running time that was too short for the material.  It seems like that will not be an issue with Half-blood Prince.

I know part of the discord in how we view Order comes from our very different reactions to Goblet---something we've discussed before.  It is your favorite film so far and my least favorite.  So we both start from very different places when viewing Order.  I'd probably give Order 3-stars on the Ebert scale which is not too far off from either your view or Ebert's.
Quote:
This is my hope as well. I felt like the balance was completely lost in OOTP, so the description of the film as a comedy with dark overtones came as pleasant surprise to me. The longer running time hopefully speaks of a less relentlessly paced edit. Bruno Delbonnel and I even love what I've seen of the monochromatic look he's crafted for this picture. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by Yates this time, since he's going to be in charge through to the end.
I agree with you 100% here.  The last trailer looked great. I'm really looking forward to it and evidently so are a lot of people:

From TerryRL over in the box office thread...

Harry Potter 6 Outpacing Transformers 2 in Ticket Sales





#6 of 69 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted July 10 2009 - 03:38 AM

I liked OOTP alot, and it  was one of my least favorite books. I also agree it should have been longer.

2 things Id like to see in the final films is the House of Gaunt chapter, even briefly(explaining Voldemorts father was a muggle), and Id also like have them explain the whole it could just as well have been N Longbottom instead of Harry thing.

The clips I saw look great. Seeing it tues at 4


#7 of 69 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 13 2009 - 12:16 PM

Well, Ebert gave it three out of four stars which is right about where I was hoping for. He gave the same grade to Goblet of Fire, which is my favorite of the movies so far. From his review:
The climactic scene in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" takes place in one of those underground caverns with a lake and an ominous gondola as the means of transportation, popularized by "The Phantom of the Opera." At first I thought -- no gondola! But then, one appeared, dripping and hulking. In another movie I might have grinned, but you know what? By that point, I actually cared.

And later:
I admired this Harry Potter. It opens and closes well, and has wondrous art design and cinematography as always, only more so. "I'm just beginning to realize how beautiful this place is," Harry sighs from a high turret. The middle passages spin their wheels somewhat, hurrying about to establish events and places not absolutely essential. But those scenes may be especially valued by devoted students of the Potter saga. They may also be the only ones who fully understand them; ordinary viewers may be excused for feeling baffled some of the time.

In spite of my best efforts, I'm starting to get my hopes up for this picture. I picked up my tickets earlier today.

#8 of 69 OFFLINE   luckytiff02

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Posted July 13 2009 - 02:14 PM

I can't wait! I've followed the series religiously, always buying the new books the first day they come out, and the movies are just as good. I think they're the only books where the movies even came close to being as good. Sadly, there will be no more books released.


#9 of 69 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted July 13 2009 - 02:57 PM

James Bs review...
http://www.reelviews...identifier=1717


Disappointing Voldemorts back story is sacrificed for comedy.

#10 of 69 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 13 2009 - 04:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonZ 

James Bs review...
http://www.reelviews...identifier=1717


Disappointing Voldemorts back story is sacrificed for comedy.
I can understand this argument, but I'm not sure I agree with it. The problem with the Voldemort memories is that they force the protagonist -- Harry Potter -- into an observer of events rather than shaper of events. I'm not sure that cutting the number of memories down to two goes too far, but there was no way they could fit all of them in without losing track of the here and now. Voldemort's back story is brutal,  complex and tragic. And yet, at the end of the day he remains unredeemable. Being unredeemable, there is no reason for the film to try and garner sympathy and for him. The two flashbacks that made it into the movie are two of the three most important in the book, since they directly relate to understanding how to defeat him. (It's rather inexplicable that the third, Dumbledore's final conversation with Voldemort inside Hogwarts, was omitted considering its importance to the plot)
And after the dreary, relentlessly grim fifth film I could use a little frivolity and comical teenage heartache. If the characters are simply used to drive the plot from point to point, why bother? Kloves's last script in the series also dumped heaps of plot in exchange for character development, and was all the better for it.

...None of which is to say I, or anyone else here for that matter, is going to actually like the damn thing come Wednesday.



#11 of 69 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 14 2009 - 02:02 PM

This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

All HTF member film reviews of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" should be posted to the
Official Review Thread.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


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#12 of 69 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted July 15 2009 - 02:53 AM

I saw the movie at midnight last night after being awake since 5:30 am for work that morning, so maybe I wasn't sharp enough to catch these things. I have not read the books & I understand that much needs to be cut out for time reasons, but there is a lot in this movie that I didn't understand:

    [*]The bridge disaster - What was it purpose? What did the death-eaters gain from it? What do the death-eaters have against suspension bridges?[*]The references to people disappearing - Who was disappearing? Why did they disappear?[*]The main point to the last movie was "He's Back".  Voldemort had finally been exposed as being alive and causing terror. If you saw this movie in a vacuum void of any other Potter book or movie, you wouldn't even know who he is. Voldemort isn't back, he isn't in this movie. How can you have a good vs. evil plot with out the evil guy showing up? Why didn't he show up? What is he up to?[*]Dumbledore dieing - Why did he die? I assume he wanted to because he did not fight back. I guess I would have expected the #1 good wizard to go down in a blaze of wand waving, not held at bay by Malfoy who probably has 1/10 the experience. I hope he isn't going to become another "He's not quite dead yet" character that comes back to life. Why don't movies let the dead stay dead anymore? However being as this movie is about magic, it would work.

Outside of the developing romance, which to me is a side plot, I don't see where this movie added anything to the whole story. I did enjoy Dumbledore's firestorm in the cave.


Edited by drobbins - 7/15/2009 at 03:45 pm GMT

#13 of 69 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted July 15 2009 - 04:47 AM

It was good, especially in giving the character's grace notes and 'moments' like Newell did so well, they at least managed to return to the quality of the Trio and supporting cast found in movies 3 and 4.

And it's now abundantly clear why the idiots require two movies for the seventh film--shelob all over again.

It's a shame that the movie is not immensely better, there are so many good aspects in spite of the director. Even Columbus was superior to the shite Yates manages to make of good material. Thankfully, Kloves was back to rescue the writing/characters from the rape and pillaging of the fifth movie. the 'get this crap over with' attitude from the last film is gone, so it's not all just propulsive meaningless plot, but the lack of a sense of pace, stakes or tension for most of the film is still omnipresent, which can make the film feel like it's dragging even when it's clipping along at a solid rate. And no, the death eaters making a pedestrian bridge go wobbly with a streak of black smoke is not raising the stakes for the audience because it has no stake in the story, its pretty much irrelevant.

I wish there was more Snape and more of Harry's relationship to the Half-Blood Prince.

And the decisions here made it so pathetically obvious what Snape is. There were entire books devoted to this question before the publishing of the final novel. Good thing the film hadn't come along because it's about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face.

all that said, because the comedy is so successful at developing the characters this is probably my second favorite of the movies, though rewatchs of the other five are on deck for... sometime soon. and it's likely that Azkaban will rise back up to the number two slot.

1. Goblet of Fire
2. Half-Blood Prince
3. Prisoner of Azkaban
4. Sorcerer's Stone
5. Chamber of Secrets
6. Order of the Phoenix


Edited by Adam_S - 7/15/2009 at 05:06 pm GMT
 

#14 of 69 OFFLINE   James_Kiang

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Posted July 15 2009 - 04:48 AM

I'll take a crack at Dave's questions...

1 - This was an addition only in the movie.  I would say it is just showing that the deatheaters are becoming more brazen now that Voldemort is back and hinting that the muggle-world is in jeopardy as well as all the good wizards.

2 - I know the book clarified quite a bit about the disappearances but I guess the movie only hinted at it.  The deatheaters are recruiting.  Those who turn them down don't get left alone, they get eliminated.  Also, they are attacking/intimidating those who would stand against them.

3 - As I recall, the book does not have much of the returned Voldemort either.  It does have a lot more memories about the young Voldemort, detailing much of his family background and such.  This movie did not really need him in it, but I also feel this movie falls a bit short because it feels like a placeholder/transition film (and Voldemort's absence adds to that).

4 - I don't want to get too spoilerific for the next movie(s) but I think I can safely say that Dumbledore had a plan.  The movie does give you enough of the book stuff to wonder about Snape.  Did he really turn bad?  Was it all part of Dumbledore's plan?  Stay tuned... :)  Oh, and death in the Potter universe does seem to pretty final as I recall.

#15 of 69 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted July 15 2009 - 05:08 AM

I think it's significant that the question on every person's lips after the sixth book came out, "Snape good or evil?" was not one that Dave had, his question was about Dumbledore. Shows how the scene was mishandled in the execution.

 

#16 of 69 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted July 15 2009 - 05:09 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam_S View Post

I think it's significant that the question on every person's lips after the sixth book came out, "Snape good or evil?" was not one that Dave had, his question was about Dumbledore. Shows how the scene was mishandled in the execution.
 
It could also show that they took a different approach to the scene. I'm not saying that it's right or wrong- just that it's different.

#17 of 69 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted July 15 2009 - 05:39 AM

#1 of Daves questions isnt a movie addition is it?

 I thought I remembered the book starting off with a wizard talking to the prime minister about wizard magic being let loose in a world and that the Death Eaters werent really confining themselves to the magic world anymore. Thought I remembered them mentioning some murders and some natural disasters, like a bridge collapse. Also important would be to note that the dementors had pretty much joined Voldemort. Was this book 6 or 7?

The Death Eaters reeking havoc on such a large scale is touched upon by a Harry Hermoine Ron conversation at the Weasley home when Harry appears ib the beginning of the film. Ron and Hermoine both say their parents are nervous about them going back to Hogwarts.

Like POA, Voldemort is out there but the story doesnt focus on a current Voldemort plot. Hes planning, the Death Eaters are recruiting, causing mayhem,getting rid of enemies,etc. This is the point of trying to find the Horcruxes. Harry and Dumbledore dont want to be on the defensive and just wait.


This film is easily the most loosely adapted so far - it seems so much info has been left out. More than in previous adaptations. But I think alot of nonbook readers questions will be answered in Deathly Hollows.




Edited by JonZ - 7/15/2009 at 06:09 pm GMT
Edited by JonZ - 7/15/2009 at 08:18 pm GMT

#18 of 69 OFFLINE   James_Kiang

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Posted July 15 2009 - 06:21 AM

I was saying the bridge attack is an addition because it is not exactly part of the narrative of the book.  In the book the Prime Minister and the Minister of Magic do meet but the attack is not directly shown.

#19 of 69 OFFLINE   Adam Sanchez

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Posted July 15 2009 - 06:37 AM

I think I read something somewhere else I wanted to confirm. Is it true this film does NOT reveal who The Half-Blood Prince actually is? I hope that isn't the case, would seem silly to not reveal that point.

Having read the books, i know the answer. But my wife, whose sole experience with the HP world has been the movies, of course does not know. I was excited for her to find out tonight when we see it.


#20 of 69 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted July 15 2009 - 07:05 AM

Yes, you find out who it is, but the "prince" isnt explained.