Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This afternoon I had the pleasure of finally seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In order to grasp the concept of just how good this movie is, let's start with the basics.

The technical aspects are simply devine. Beautiful scenery, great costumes, wonderfully balanced and well-timed music, and superb visual effects. Of course this is something that all six films have possessed. Special Note: The cinematography this time around is a work of art, and is much improved on the previous installments.

So we move to the acting. I am glad to see the teenagers, who are now adults, not only growing up, but maturing their acting abilities as well. Ironically, the one actor in that category I find fault with is Harry himself, Daniel Radcliffe. He is one of the few that doesn't quite have the timing and subtlety that is brought on by maturity, but of course their is room to grow. I also personally think that Emma Watson and Tom Felton have the brightest futures, as both really pulled out all the stops this time around. The great part about all of these movies, is that the child, now adult, actors do not have to carry all the weight. And once again, the plethora of British talent lining Hogwarts corridors is always pushing the envelope on consistent and terrific performances. Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Helen Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Warwick Davis, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, and David Thewlis all bring their A-game. The newest addition, Horace Slughorn, however, proves to be the freshest and most interesting character, bolstered by the incredible talent that is Jim Broadbent.

However, my major concern with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the story. Yes, the mood was captured, yes the visual effects were fantastic, but what was missing were the nice tones and subtleties, the ebbs and flows that come from great storytelling. Now that the original screenwriter Steve Kloves has returned to the helm, that element that was missing in the previous film, has come back better than ever. Because of Kloves, paired with David Yates' suprisingly agile directing, this chapter in the saga is able to perfectly combine awkward teen angst, with the dark and deadly rising storm, into a powerful, gritty, and dark piece of cinematic art.

Grade: A

Oscar Possibilties - With 10 nominations, I am going to go ahead and say it.....give Harry a shot. This truly was a great movie, and critics/audiences are agreeing. Let 10 include the well-deserved blockbusters who are usually overlooked. Other possibilities include Best Supporting Actor for Jim Broadbent and Michael Gambon. Then of course the usual techinal suspects: original score, costume design, art direction, visual effects, and cinematography. Only time will tell in Harry has what to takes to finally take the Oscars by storm.

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