Friday, September 4, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rhoades)

“Harry Potter” Works Its Magic at the Box Office

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

When I was a group publisher at Scholastic, we knew we had to keep the pipeline filled with new ideas. At the time The Baby-Sitters Club was our bread-and-butter book series. Later on, it was the Goosebumps books. And then, Harry Potter. Now that the last volume of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books has been published, the hunt is on at Scholastic for another bestselling concept.

Not so for the movies. Hollywood has a few more Harry Potter books to go. The film that’s now playing at the Tropic Cinema – “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – is merely number six. (And the seventh and final book will be divided into two movies in order to stretch out the box-office bonanza for this blockbuster series.)

Even if you’ve read the book, there has been a number of changes in this fantasy adventure film about young wizards and their battle against the evil Death Eaters. In particular, the ending has been altered and such scenes as Dumbledore’s funeral and the climactic battle have been removed.

There’s bonus footage too. Scenes of the Death Eaters terrorizing the community – only mentioned in passing in the book – have been added. And there’s an expanded subplot surrounding Dumbledore's wand.

“We’ve kind of altered our story to make sure we don’t tread on the toes of what comes in ‘Deathly Hallows,’” admits director David Yates (who also did the last movie and is working on the final two).

Yet, Hogwarts Castle and its students and teachers remain visually faithful to the books and earlier films. “We’ve established a world and it’s a parallel world to our own,” says producer David Heyman. “We’re quite strict about making sure we don’t … stray off into the realm of the fantastical as opposed to the magical.”

Although aging before our very eyes, the three stars return. Daniel Radcliffe, with round spectacles and lightning bolt scar on his forehead, is forever our hero Harry Potter. Redheaded Rupert Grint is Harry’s buddy Ron Weasley. And blossoming Emma Watson is Hermione Granger, the boys’ BFF.

You also see the return of the half-giant Hagrid (Robby Coltrane), smarmy Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), bad witch Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), motherly Minerva McGonagall (Dame Maggie Smith), fatherly Albus Dumbledore (Sir Michael Gambon), and dastardly Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Figuring prominently in this story is Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent).

This time around the wizardry school is under attack by the Death Eaters. And knowing that Horace Slughorn holds vital information needed to defeat Lord Voldemort’s minions, Headmaster Dumbledore lures the former potions professor back to the school “with promises of more money, a bigger office, and the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter.”

Harry steps up to the task. “His want – or his need – in this film is basically to kill Voldemort, and he realizes that the way in which he’ll do this is to become Dumbledore’s favorite foot soldier,” says Radcliffe. “That’s the role you’ll see him gradually moving toward in this film.”
Also, love is in the air, as thick as mustard gas, with Harry smitten on Ron’s sister Ginny and Ron falling into the romantic clutches of Lavender Brown to Hermione’s dismay. As one moviegoer aptly puts it, “Teenage hormones rage across the ramparts.”

Despite J. K. Rowling’s revelation that she envisioned Albus Dumbledore as being gay, the film maintains an ambiguous don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach to the character. The news about Dumbledore’s sexuality prompted Michael Gambon to playfully “camp it up” around the set, but his on-screen performance is spot-on in a role he took over from the late Richard Harris.
And despite threats of quitting, weary Emma Watson was talked into returning simply because she “could not bear to see anyone else play Hermione.”

Translated into 65 languages, the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” sold nine million copies in the first 24 hours after its release, a record only broken by its sequel, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated $15 billion. The last film in the series by itself did just under a billion dollars in worldwide ticket sales.

So there’s nothing magic in my prediction that this movie will conjure up a big summer box office.
[from Solares Hill]

1 comment:

Movie Blaster said...

The most recent Harry Potter movies aren't that good anymore especially since most of the young characters got older now.... There was a certain cuteness to Harry Potter before that appealed more to kids... I doubt if its still there.