I’ve read several film critics lately discuss how they don’t get or aren’t really into the Harry Potter franchise. I am not one of those critics. I’ve read all seven books and even showed up for a midnight book release or two.
The fifth book was my least favorite of the series. It took too much of a step away from the main plot line and the struggle with Voldemort and focused too much on the classwork and O.W.L. tests. However, David Yates brilliantly handled the fifth movie, grasping the darkness and humor that J.K. Rowling so expertly puts in her novels.
So I was pleased to find out the Yates will be handling the series from here on out. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been my (and I predict many of your) most anticipated films of 2009. So I was very pleased to read the earliest reviews for the film that came out over the weekend.
Todd McCarthy of Variety, who hasn’t been particularly praise-worthy of the other Potter films says:
Kidsâ€™ stuff is a thing of the past in â€œHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.â€ Suddenly looking quite grown up, the students at Hogwarts are forced to grapple with heavy issues of mortality, memory and loss in this sixth installment in the series of bigscreen adaptations of J.K. Rowlingâ€™s Potter tales. Dazzlingly well made and perhaps deliberately less fanciful than the previous entries, this one is played in a mode closer to palpable life-or-death drama than any of the others and is quite effective as such. Delayed by Warner Bros. from a late 2008 release date so as to spread the wealth after â€œThe Dark Knightâ€ scored so mightily last summer, this â€œPrinceâ€ is poised to follow its predecessors as one of the yearâ€™s two or three top-earning films.
After sitting out â€œThe Order of the Phoenix,â€ screenwriter Steve Kloves happily returned to once again skillfully condense a massive book into manageable dramatic form; among many tough narrative decisions, he has cut back on the violent mayhem surrounding the murderous climax and put off the introduction of Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour until the next episode.
More after the jump…
He also goes on to praise the technical aspects of the film:
Among the always outstanding production values and top-drawer visual effects, special note should be made of series newcomer Bruno Delbonnelâ€™s exceptionally atmospheric cinematography and Nicholas Hooperâ€™s emotionally churning score, which contains only the slightest trace of John Williamsâ€™ original themes.
Perhaps the film could be a contender for more than just the standard Art Direction Oscar.
Andrew Pulver of The Guardian does not all out hail the film, but he does praise it for Yates’ direction and points out some of the strengths:
What it actually does is throw the series’ biggest weakness into sharp relief: film-making can (and does) control pretty much everything â€“ except how the cute juvenile leads grow up. Still, director David Yates knows how to play all the cards. Although a touch ungainly, his film is solidly constructed, with lots of fine effects. If, as Potter approaches his final confrontation with Voldemort, the wizardly battles begin to resemble Lord of the Rings, it’s hardly a handicap; this is tried and tested cinematic language, and does all it needs.
The reviews so far are what I would consider “mostly positive.” What does this mean?
That means to true Potter fans it is going to be FANTASTIC! Film critics are naturally averse to the Harry Potter films and most have grown tired of them. When critics who go in with negativity are praising the film, it is good news for fans who would like the film no matter who is at the helm.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released on Wednesday, July 15.