Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Half-Blood Prince

I caught up with the movie of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by David Yates.

This is the return of Steve Kloves as screenwriter, which I'm not sure is a good thing. I think Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was scripted by Michael Goldenberg, was the strongest movie from a screenwriting point of view.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was, for me, the strongest cinematically, but I think that was largely because of director Alfonso Cuarón, whose direction has still not been equaled within the series. However, the Goldberg/Yates combination came very close to that level overall.

And this was a significant step down. Frankly, there is Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix, and the distance to the next movies, Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince, is pretty significant. Although I'd say Half-Blood Prince is definitely the better of the two.

Luckily, the original novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, is strong enough on exciting and powerful material, and the cast remains reliable enough, that the movie has both entertainment value and weight.

I actually watched all of the movies, starting with Prisoner of Azkaban in the last week, and I can't help the feeling that, as much entertainment there is in the movies and as good as the cast can be, I'm left unsatisfied. Perhaps it's time for me to go back and revisit the books.


Greg said...

The movies have always left me cold except for Azkaban. That one I really liked and feel it is a truly good movie, period, even without the Harry Potter mythos surrounding it.

Everything else disappoints since, and mainly because since Voldemort's return, he hasn't really done anything to justify the build-up. He returned and yet, somehow, he's not really doing anything now that he's returned. It all feels like so much padding.

Neil Sarver said...

Prisoner of Azkaban is easily my favorite as a movie, as I said. And it's obviously Cuarón's instincts that cause that, because it's the only one that's so confident in the material as cinema rather that a kind of dramatization.

Watching them with Kim, who hasn't read the books, it becomes even clearer what's wrong with the others. The things that frustrate me aren't the things that are left out, it's the things that are underdeveloped. The things that make her ask why they did something or why it's a big deal. Prisoner of Azkaban is the only one that didn't do that.

Which is especially frustrating, because all of them have moments that really do work. The casts are fabulous, and you can tell people involved really do care about the stories.

But on that same level, I can't quite understand their continuing success as movies. They feel as frustrating to me than satisfying, both as a fan of the books and a movie fan.

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