Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Shit Hitting the Fan

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” begins with Harry covered in blood and stunned, and things don’t much pick up for him from there. After a brief flirtation at Surbiton station of all places, Harry is pretty much back in Hogwarts and up shit creek.

I like the Harry Potter films, and I’m not here to diss this one. I liked it. It was alright. It was slightly embarrassing, as the only person in the cinema to apparently not know the book off by heart, as I kept jumping and gasping with each plot twist. Not that there is much twisting. The first half of the film is essentially teenaged hijinks involving those terrible and scarring first forays into romance we all know too well. The second half was frankly terrifying and had been shrinking in my seat. But then I’m one of approximately three people in the world over five years old that haven’t read the books. This gives me a rare perspective on a global phenomenon. It’s an extreme downer, is my concise summary.


1. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix

Not in it nearly enough, but utterly fabulous, completely and unreservedly mental, yet weirdly attractive and totally wonderful. I love Helena Bonham Carter. I have a huge girl crush on her.

2. Ron and Harry Experimenting with Drugs

Rupert Grint is by far the best actor out of the three, but Daniel Radcliffe and he perfectly nailed the comic parts. The stand-out moments were Ron stoned on a love potion and Harry speeding on luck potion. Hilariously written, directed and performed.

3. The Opening

Fabulous shots plunging you through London, culminating in the Millennium Bridge wobblin’ like it’s the year 2000 all over again.

4. Innuendo? What innuendo?

Ice cream licking and unfortunate timing of the question “did you do it?” Way above the kiddies’ heads but chucklesome for it.

The Bad

1. Hermione

Or rather, I suppose, Emma Watson’s interpretation of Hermione. I’m being generous and saying it’s her interpretation and not her total lack of acting talent, because I think, after careful consideration, it must be. The girl has been in front of a camera since she was 10 or 11 years old. Surely to God she isn’t that tense unintentionally? Throughout the entire film – and the last film too – Hermione has been resolutely emotionless. Every exclamation or facial expression seems to be a force of desperate will, overcoming a rigidity that’s extraordinary and even distracting at times. In this one, when she cries over Ron, it was painful to watch because of the sheer physical strain which it seemed to be to try and squeeze out one solitary tear, which incidentally I don’t think she actually managed, she just scrunched up her face. Is Hermione solid ice in the middle? That’s not how you cry over boys when you’re sixteen, the water pours out your eyes, the snot pours out of your nose, your face goes all squidgy and you howl, yes howl on your best friend’s shoulder. Hermione just sort of scrunched up her shoulders, closed her eyes tightly, and lay her head on Harry’s shoulder. Emma Watson may be beautiful, brainy and rich but surely even she has cried over a boy before? In which case, it must be a choice to play it that way, but it was weird. Even her love for Ron is so chilly – it seems to have by-passed adolescent devotion and landed at marital intimacy – that when she looks at him it’s mostly with disgust. Promising to stand by Harry sounds like a threat. Please God let Hermione melt at some point, because the wringing out of basic human emotion is starting to get really hard to watch.

2. Harry and Ginny

Oh dear oh dear. Well, there were two problems here, neither of which are anyone to do with film’s fault. Firstly, I am told by sources in the know that the relationship is deeply unconvicing even in the books. Secondly, Harry and Ginny were cast as children, before either had chemistry. It is unfortunate that they have grown up to have absolutely zero with each other. Below zero, even. If anything, it’s a sibling-like thing, which just makes a weird situation creepier. Watching the kiss, I swear to God, was like watching the forcing together of two repulsing magnets. They just about made it, but sprang away from each other with evident relief, shared by the audience. It made my skin crawl, it was so unnatural and hideous to watch. Re-cast Ginny, is the only advice I can think of. It’s cruel and unfair because she’s an okay actress, but I implore the producers not to make us watch them all through the last two films, I don’t think I can stand it.

The Ugly

1. Draco’s Feet

Just sayin’. Not meaning to get personal here, but....yikes. Excellent performance from him, though. You felt more fellow feeling and sympathy between him and Harry than you did between Harry and Hermione, which says everything you need to know about the aforementioned Ice Queen.


Anonymous said...

Ok, let me start off this comment by saying I have read all the books and have enjoyed them immensely. The movies do not do them justice at all. In fact, I found the only two that were quite good were movies one and two and I attribute this to Christopher Columbus' fantastic directing skills. Because let's face it, as we have seen throughout the rest of the films (which have somehow endured being handed down a line of directors like an unwanted football, recurrent change of settings and actors) the movies are pretty much TRYING to be 'Hollywood' with a bunch of Poms who can't act and clearly can't pick out the most vital parts of the books that MAKE the story as fabulous as it is. Harry Potter 6 was CRAP. The whole time I was watching it, I felt like I was having disjointed hallucinations because the film itself lacks any sense of flow whatsoever.

I don't know what J.K Rowling is thinking letting her books be shamed by such bad acting and directing but I think someone should do something about it before the seventh film is released. I believe that books 4 and 7 are the best Rowling wrote in the series and I almost wanted to cry at how poorly the fourth film was done. Are the producers of Harry Potter running on tight budgets? They couldn't even put in the final battle scene that is the climax of the concluding sequence of the book with all the members of the order of the Phoenix getting involved and some of the DA as well with the Death Eaters. HOW CAN YOU LEAVE OUT THE HIGHLIGHT OF WHAT COULD HAVE MADE THE WORST MOVIE MADE THIS YEAR AT LEAST TOLERABLE??!!

If I was one of the child actors in this series I wouldn't even want to feature in the seventh film. I think so far the films have all been far too much an embarassment to the English film industry. WHAT ARE THOSE DIRECTORS THINKING? THESE ARE THE MOST FAMED NOVELS OF THE CENTURY (of course leaving out the classics) AND THEY ARE COMPLETELY RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE!!!

Cordelia said...

Hmm. Well, firstly, I do very much feel your pain. Although I have never read Harry Potter, I've LOVED Lord of the Rings since I was a child and those films make me spew bile. I've only ever seen them all once, but even as I type this the red mists descend. Awful, travesty, etc. (I also feel thusly about the Narnia films, btu I think this is prevailing opinion on them anyway). Oddly - from a non-reader perspective - I feel very strongly the films are getting better (although this last one deviates from that was very much a place-holder, I felt, not really advancing the plot at all. I agree it was disjointed, but thought it added to the atmosphere of dread - it was just a shame there was no real pay-off). The fourth and fifth I would say are my favourites - darker, bigger themes, etc. But that just shows the skewered perspective you can get when you don't know what's been left out or added in. My friend left the cinema this time in a similar state of anguish to you as to the end. I hope one day I will get aroudn to reading the books to see the differences, but as a totally independent sequence of films go, I quite rate them (albeit not so much the last one).

However, from your comment, I have to ask:

1. "Who can't act". You mean the kids, right? Because yes, I take your point on that, although in fairness I think Draco and Ron are improving, Hermione though is getting worse, and Harry peaked about three years ago. But Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Kenneth Branagh - these are some of the best actors of our time.

2. "Poms" - I don't quite understand the relevance of bringing nationality into it. JK Rowling was British and it's set in Britian, so isn't it accurate to the story that the actors are? Or maybe I'm oversensitive - I take Pom as a pejorative as I associate it with my boyfriend being kicked unconscious in Australia while that term was being yelled at us. But you may not mean it as a pejorative.

And I'm pretty sure JK Rowling was thinking about the money...if I had as much as she does, that's all I'd be thinking about too. Thanks for your comment!