Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beautiful and Poignant

It's been a bit of a crazy week so far and I realized I had yet to give any real closure to the Harry Potter series I started a while back. Over the course of the past few days I have seen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince three times, and I plan to see it a fourth, and my thoughts on the film are utter amazement.

The latest Potter film is definitely the best film I've seen thus far this year, but not only that I think it might just be one of the finer Potter films to date. Prepare for an emotional thrill ride from start to finish.

This latest installment feels completely different than any of the others that have come before it, while still noticeably taking place in the same world. The story is more mature this time around, dark, but also charming.

The film downplays the epic scope of the wizarding world and takes a deeper look at the characters rather than relying on big flashy effects, and that is where the film finds its strength. David Yates, who has improved greatly since the fifth Potter, has done exactly what Alfonso Cuaron did in the third film, he made you feel for the characters and connect with them almost as well as you do when you're reading the books. Yates and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel give the film a distinctive visual style that is so beautiful but haunting at the same time; every image looks like a wondrous painting or some other beautiful piece of art. Nicholas Hooper has improved big time this go around in regards to the musical score, bringing back a sense of fantasticalness that the music in the previous two films lacked. Course the acting in this film is probably the finest from this ensemble yet. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, and Jim Broadbent all in particular stand out upon first inspection, but nearly every single actor within the film turns in a fine, nuanced performance.

This particular Potter film plays up the comedy, but is also probably the most dramatic yet, making shifts from comedy to drama in just a blink of an eye, but thanks to Yates skillfull direction the film flows beautifully. As I said the comedy is played up this time about, nearly all in the cast get to ham it up at one point or another, in particular Rupert Grint under the influence of Love Potion and Daniel Radcliffe when Harry takes the Felix Felicis. The film also is highly romantic. The film deals with teenage love delicately. It is at times humorous, heartbreaking, and sweet. The way the romance is portrayed in this film is very honest and true, and is very idealistic and beautiful.

Course this is still a Harry Potter film and it would be nothing if it didn't have a few big action set pieces, which it does. Quidditch is back this time about and is faster and far more brutal than before. Quidditch genuinely feels like an authentic contact sport this time about rather than just a fantastical game made up by wizards. This sequence is truly electrifying and fun to watch. The attack on the Burrow is another electrifying scene, as well as the exquisitely realized bathroom blow out, but it's the cave scene at the end that winds up being the most memorable sequence of the film. The cave scene is handled extremely well, it is tense, frightening, and extremely beautiful.

I highly enjoyed this film. It is easily one of the finer Harry Potter films released thus far. While I am still not sure where the film stands in the overall series, I will say that I enjoy it more than the fourth and fifth installments already after just three viewings. Go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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