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Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

Author: toni

~ 07/16/09

Welcome to movie math, where we review movies and see if they ADD UP to family fun!

For the first time in her short little life, 7 year-old Julia asked to go see a movie on OPENING DAY and this is it! She is obsessed with all things Harry Potter. We bought advance tickets, stood in line for an hour and a half to ensure we’d get good seats. And as luck would have it, her collector’s edition HERMOINE WAND with the lighted end arrived the day before. She brought it with her to the movie. And there you have the set up. What was the payoff? 

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE – The sixth film in the series based on the J.K. Rowling books is enjoyable in many ways. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted it is an artistic joy to behold. BUT it is DIFFERENT from what has come before. This film feels more transitional. Rather than being a specific adventure with specific goals that is bookended by the start and finish of the Hogwarts’ school year, it spends its time laying the groundwork for the climactic battle between good and evil that is to come in the last two movies (which are based on the 7th and final book). Unlike previous films in the series, this one cannot stand alone. If you have not seen what has come before, you may not understand much of what is going on in this film.

This movie is about the characters growing up, starting to make important life choices, discovering their feelings about themselves and each other. As the actors have grown up so have their characters HARRY, RON and HERMIONE. (Harry has facial hair, Ron is GIRL CRAZY and Hermione has – as a niece put it – boobies!). Even DRACO MALFOY develops into more than the one-dimensional evil thug that he has been in past movies. We see the struggle in his soul as he is being forced into the darkness and we feel for him. I love this about this series. It’s not all black and white. There are shades of gray.

There’s romance, a fair about of “snogging” (making out) and definitely more adult humor. Julia was a little embarrassed seeing her wizard pals french-kissing. And I didn’t buy the Harry/Ginny love story. Not convincingly set up. But overall, the audience ENJOYED watching the character moments. Probably because the audience was made up primarily of 19 year-old DIEHARD FANS who had themselves started with the series when they were only around 10 and related to the transition the characters were making. It is lovely for these kids that they have gotten to grow up with the Hogwarts gang. Future generations will not have that same experience.

As for the adventure of the film…eh, not so much. And not so compelling. But what little there is is quite dark, scary and ultimately heart-breaking. Without giving anything away for those who have not read the book, the story takes a tragic turn. JULIA (who is 7) was not scared by the scary parts (though many kids would be), but she was devastated by the tragic twist. There was much SOBBING for a long time. In fact, she cried herself to sleep in our bed.

Readers of the book might be disappointed because apparently much was left out (we’re only on book 4 so we don’t know). But have you seen how THICK the later books get? The books have gotten longer, but the movies haven’t. There is NO WAY they can put everything in. The movie suffers a bit as a result. And is even confusing at times.

In the end, however, it is a testament to Rowling who has created characters so vivid, so compelling, that a 7 YEAR-OLD CHILD  (and okay, I’ll admit it, a GROWN UP WOMAN) can become so emotionally invested in them. I CAN’T BELIEVE WE HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR AND A HALF FOR THE NEXT FILM!


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