At the IMAX
August 4, 2009

Having really enjoyed the IMAX 3d version of Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, we waited to see the Half Blood Prince until our local (local-ish - was a good 40 minutes or more away) was showing it. So, Saturday, we slogged across the stupid time-zone line and caught a 6:00 showing (7 our time). Didn't think to feed the animals before we left ... major oops.

The movie started out in 3d with no warning which made most of us wonder WTF before hurriedly grabbing for our over-sized glasses. The beginning was of course somewhat different from the book. It's so difficult to distill a 650 page hardback into a reasonable length movie - even a very beloved book. Maybe even especially because the series is beloved. There were tons of subplots and rich details left out - but most of them I thought were decent enough cuts given the medium.

The acting was, as usual, spot on. Hermione's character and Ginny's character are really starting to come into their own a bit more. Hermione's not quite the insufferable know-it-all who also insists on following all of the rules as she was in the beginning of the series - but then, that goes for the books as well as the movies.

I thought many of the visual ways of displaying the disasters caused by the Death Eaters were quite well done. They didn't seem to blow the entire effects budget on them, they didn't seem to over do it ... a nice balance. I missed things like the bits with the prime minister and "the other minister," but it seemed a decent enough cut. I was slightly disappointed by the whole prior to getting to Hogwart's look at the Weasley's store, but again, seemed a good enough cut.

But I should have been warned when the way that Dumbledore arrives for Harry and they go on their little before-school-starts errand to attempt to hire a new teacher, that the director was going to change up the story. It was a minor change and I mostly enjoyed it. Dumbledore doesn't show up at the Dursleys' house to pick up Harry as in the book. Instead we get a scene of a typical teenage boy - I won't give it away because I thought it was a charming little scene that you should have a chance to enjoy. What did bother me a bit at the time and much more later, was that it seemed some crucial plot bits were being changed or left out.

It wasn't long into the beginning of the movie before the little red circle slash through glasses symbol came on and we removed our glasses. The 3d was nice, but I was really looking forward to the end of the movie and the scene in the cave with the Inferi - surely that would be 3d again and it would be spectacular.

I was a little more concerned when the director and/or screenwriter added a completely new scene to the movie. Yes, I'm talking about the one involving the Burrow. Again, I don't want to give it away for those who haven't seen it, but why? Why add this scene? It was long and it was unnecessary. By long I only mean that given actual plot lines that had been cut, why add something that didn't originally exist in the books? It just seemed quite stupid to me. I was disgruntled to say the least.

Once they got to school? Let me say this: not only did Rowling really nail the relationships between 15 year olds ... so did the director and the actors. Oh my! The strutting, the peacockery, the exasperation, the machinations, the confusion ... all of it was spot on. Just absolutely nailed it. I laughed my ass off at the sheer reality of it.

My real gripe with the film and my very real concern with the two movies that will follow (by the same director) is that the entire set up for the quest in the final book was seriously botched. First, the umm, "little friend Felix" was not shared as it was in the book. Which meant the big fight inside Hogwart's was missing. More troubling, Dumbledore didn't explain what he was supposed to explain. I mean, we know Dumbledore had a difficult time explaining much, but the movie Dumbledore did not fully explain the quest to Harry as much as he did in the book. Harry was not charged with finishing finding the Horcruxes (Horcruces?). Harry was not reminded by Dumbledore that he needed his friends. The entire scene at the cave was quite truncated (and, just by-the-by not in 3d either - I was quite disappointed by that - what was the point of the IMAX version if they didn't do that?). Several key plot points were left out of the cave scene as well, all of which REALLY makes me worry about the final book's two movies.

Overall, it was a decent movie. I'm not sure it was worth the price of the IMAX ticket given the short shrift on the 3d, but it certainly is worth the evening price at a regular theatre. The acting is splendid - there are tons of laughs in what is ultimately a serious and dark movie. With that, at least, I thought the director and the screenwriter did a marvelous and balanced job.

But sending Harry into The Deathly Hallows with even less of a clue than he had in the books? I'm concerned. Guess I'll find out next Thanksgiving and the following July if I was right to be worried.

Oh, and by the way, if your child has NOT read Half Blood Prince and somehow has managed to NOT find out who dies at the end, you might wanna freaking tell the kid before you take him to the show. I was quite surprised to find a 12 year old boy all but bawling into his mum as the lights came up. Was obvious he hadn't heard which character in the novel died at the end.

Posted by Red Monkey at August 4, 2009 5:43 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

Free Pixel Advertisement for your blog