Friday, July 24, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Two years of a faithful wait for the movie made me as happy as Harry was on his 1st visit to Hogsmeade when I took delivery of the tickets to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince at a multiplex with one of my close friends…also an ardent Potter series fan! Right from the 3rd movie the scriptwriters had taught us fans to get used to them twisting the original tale and doing away with parts of the story that we considered significant…but inspite of the warning David Yates’ HP 6 left me broken hearted as I found yet again that this was a director who made a story of his own…my rant about the movie goes thus :

For all ye Muggles who think ‘its jus a movie’ :

Harry Potter is a teen wizard (yes he can do magic n stuff) who has returned to his school with best friends Ron and Hermione for his 6th year. His headmaster Dumbledore takes him through preparations to face and ultimately destroy the baddie Voldermort who in the past killed Harry’s parents. It’s a story of revenge that has a good dose of friendship and in the case of this movie a lotta adolescent love. The visual effects are mindblowing and the movie boasts of a cast comprising some of Britain’s most talented actors.

For all ye who live through the pages of JKR’s classic series:

At 1st glance this movie had an awesome trailer. It was dark as expected and came with great sound and visuals. In person the only thing that lived up to the trailer was the CG work. Anyone would give it a 20 on a scale of 10! That’s how terrific it was. The grounds of Hogwarts, the cave in the midst of the ocean, the Inferi…the breathtaking collapse of the Brockdale bridge! Tim Burke and Tim Alexander deserve the “awwww” that those scenes get! Kudos! The overall music also was good.

Coming to the story…well logically the movie should’ve been based on JKR’s work but seems Mr. Yates took liberty to change quite a lot about it. Trouble is those parts left out took the soul of the movie with them. Let me elaborate:

~ The 6th book takes a major reality check as this is where the magical world extends to the Muggle world – the Muggle minister is warned of Voldermort’s rampage and Dementors are creeping out normal people too…Yates is content with just showing the faces of a dozen Muggles when Brockdale comes crashing down…nothing is spoken about it later anywhere!

~ Narcissa and Bellatrix head to Snape’s and during the conversation that ensues Bellatrix ends up making the Unbreakable Vow! Any one who has read the book would know it is Cissy who has to make it coz she is the one requesting it and Bella is only a bonder. Also in the book Cissy goes to Snape to plead with him to save her son…a mother’s plight that her son is being revenged for his father’s mistake. In the movie Helen McCrory as Narcissa merely enjoys a glass of wine makes the vow n leaves like its an everyday job! The beauty of a mother’s love for her son even when she is a Death Eater seems totally lost on Yates!

~ Everyone is aboard the Hogwarts express and Harry wants to spy on Malfoy. Harry uses instant darkness powder to distract them all so he could get onto the luggage rack. Nothing like that happens in the book! Yates made it that way so as to avoid the Slughorn party on the train! Ok…minor change forgiven. But what happens next had us all stumped! Malfoy jinxes Harry out cold covers him up with the invisibility cloak and Luna finds him through her Spectrespecs coz as she claims there were Wrackspurts all over him! The book had a more non-insane way of finding Harry! Tonks does it! How much more simple can it get and what was the point of changing it?

~ Jim Broadbent was a new addition to the already talented cast. But sadly all that he got to do in the 2nd part mostly was stare stupidly and go ‘eh’?! Slughorn’s character could’ve done with a lot more polishing!

~ The worst betrayal ever according to me came in the form of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in movie 3. And that punishment continues! To those eyes that had the privilege of watching Richard Harris as the greatest and most respected wizard of all times, Gambon is a mismatch. No offence to the talented actor but he simple doesn’t fit into the scheme. I felt it then but alas am not in charge of casting! For playing DD Gambon is short, doesn’t have crystal blue eyes that seem to x-ray you when he looks at you, talks a lot(!) has zero humor, jumps about from place to place like he is a 6-yr old (DD is close to 150 yrs old)has just a few locks of hair and oddly has some kinda band tied to his beard! I regret Harris’s death every time I watch Gambon on screen. If only he could’ve held on till the series was done! If I had a time turner I’d bring Harris back! Gambon just doesn’t fit the bill. Guess we should blame his granddaughter for it coz it was she who told him that she would stop talking to him if he refused the role! Kids!

~ Another sentimental fact that Yates seemed to have ignored is that DD wears half moon specs! Gambon is seen sporting it only in a few scenes (even in movie 5) …add that to the list of ‘how un-Dumbledory’ he is. He is hunting down Horcruxes with Harry and maybe took it off for the ride…you suggest? Well…just take a look at the cover picture of the 6th book and you’ll know that even when there is a ring of fire encircling him and Harry DD still has a gleaming pair of half moons on his crooked nose!!!

~ The climax fight between the teachers and Death Eaters seemed to have jumped right out of Yates’ mind! I read in Wikipedia that it was removed to avoid monotony in the next movie! That fight forms a crux of this film and would’ve brought put amazing performances from the likes of Maggie Smith and moreoever the 6th book was as much of the action genre as it was magical and a duel would’ve only made it more grand. Us fans could’ve been lucky to witness more of the brilliant CG!

~ There is no funeral for DD!! Again Wikipedia quotes the makers’ reply that they took it off coz it had no connection with the rest of the movie! My comment to that would be that none of the crew members have understood anything about what people feel towards DD! We don’t love him for no reason Mr. Yates and the least you could’ve done was give him a decent sendoff! The best and most cynical irony here is that the producers took so many pains to make a gigantic dead spider…jus for 3 characters to watch it as it lay dead on its hinds for a quarter of a minute in the movie! It would’ve cost less to have made a white tomb and a dozen people laying flowers over it…but no Mr. Yates is the man! He opts to give DD a mobile phone-torch send off like fans do in a music concert! Everyone holds their wands alight for a while!

~ I saved up my take on the supposed romance in the movie for last coz I have jus 2 words for it “outright stupid” ! There was absolutely no necessity to show Lavender and Ron kissing every instant. It didn’t matter even in the book. Everyone new Hermione would end up with Ron anyway! Mike Newell handled it way far better and more subtle yet powerful in the 4th movie…

~ Bonnie Wright would probably be wondering what the heck she was doing in that movie! Coz there was absolutely no justice done to Ginny! One moment she is kissing Dean and the next she is dropping hints to Harry that she loves him and lo and behold she is kissing him next! Sheer stupidity! Not a single soul…and by that I mean Yates, Radcliffe and Wright seems to know what exactly is going on between Harry and Ginny and what they are supposed to show!

~ The Burrow getting burnt - sequence doesn’t appear in the book at all! It was absolutely unnecessary and made no point at all. And there was not the slightest mention about it anywhere else in the movie!!! That is Yates’ biggest problem! He just leaves sequences unfinished and to the imagination! Thankfully JKR is deprived of that talent! She always ties loose ends together in her books!

~ Adding a couple of nonchalant errors – in the movie Snape tells Harry the truth only in the end (that he is the HBP) but in the book logically Snape suspects Harry has his book when he performs Sectumsempra on Malfoy! That also appeared in the movie but Yates left Snape ignoring the person behind the curse! It jus shows how lagging the script is. No one seemed to take care to make sure the sequence has a flow and made sense! Sloppy work!

~ There were 3 insanely stupid scenes : One in the opening where Harry checks out this waitress at a cafĂ© and along with DD stares at a picture of a model on a huge banner at the station…I sincerely think Mr. Yates could’ve put his film reel to better use like enacting a funeral for DD instead of inserting such totally pointless and irritating scenes. By the way that was the excuse to leave the Dursleys out of the movie! Two where Ginny ties Harry’s shoe laces! Almost every one in the theatre went WT* coz that’s how idiotic it was! It was like watching a ‘60s Tamil movie! And isn’t it obvious to anyone who reads the book that Ginny is more level headed than that! Three when Ron is in the hospital and Lavendar Brown comes rushing in and pours out her jealousy over Won-Won in front of DD, Snape, Slughorn, Harry, Ginny and Hermione! The staff just watch on as she rants about her love! For the love of God Mr. Yates please get out of your Imperius curse! Someone is making you humiliate yourself! And coming to think of it I guess even Steve Kloves (scriptwriter) had his memory modified! Coz in no other way could someone who wrote a crisp script for the 1st two movies come up with the rest! There were changes in those two movies too...but they did not destroy the main line or turn out to be stupid….good times!

~ There was absolutely no mention about Bill and Fluer! And nothing was said about the romance between Tonks and Lupin! Yates was determined to do away with anything that would make a fan happy I think!

Phew! Now that am done with the brickbats I do have some bouquets to handover…

~ Yates managed to insert a good amount of Quidditch into the movie! Thank u just for that…

~ The best always remain the best - Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid, Mark Williams and Julie Walters as Arthur and Molly Weasley respectively, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, David Thewlis as Lupin and Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange remind us yet again what true talent is and why we are all in love with the world of Harry potter! I bow down to each of them! Their performances can never be matched!

~ I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Radcliffe. He was cute enough for HP-1 n 2 but I still feel someone else could’ve done a better job at Harry. Yet it seemed to me that Daniel did put up a good show in quite a few scenes!

~ Emma Watson was a universal favourite and she lived Hermione to the hilt till maybe the 4th movie…the 5th saw her losing a bit of interest in the franchise…and to me she’s lost most of it in this movie….she still is brilliant in a few sequences but that cute little curly haired nerdy angel seems to have taken a long vacation! This is why some kids should never grow up!

~ Rupert Grint does a decent job…like Ron he seems to have a gift for growing considerably with every passing day!

~ Dave Legeno appears as Fenrir Greyback and with excellent make up fits the character to a T! He is tall and muscular and every bit savage...not surprising given he was a bouncer before he took up acting!

~ The only actor who has my heartfelt appreciation this time is Tom Felton for his perfect portrayal of Draco Malfoy. I had judged Felton as ordinary in the 1st couple of movies were he was jus a prop when Radcliff ran away with all the good scenes but seems like Felton got his pay off in this movie. His expressions were brilliant towards the climax when he faces DD and is stuck between having to kill his headmaster or getting killed by the Dark Lord for failing in his mission! Tom great job! Keep it up!

~ Like I already said the music and sound in the movie were good though I felt a lot of bangs were unnecessarily loud!

On the whole…it was nothing like the heaven of magic that the 1st two movies created…but still we got to see a couple of characters we love on screen…and with the special effects it wasn’t hard to sit through the movie. But the magic was missing...ironically yes...there were wands, broomsticks, spells, hexes, jinxes and even a singing phoenix but the magic of the entire concept was missing! And the fact that the 7th movie lies in the hands of David Yates only makes me wish that I make myself ready to face a similar experience yet again next year!

On a scale of 5 I would rate it a 3 ‘just’ for the CG and Felton’s act!

this review also appears here :