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Seen with edling in Oxford.

This film definitely isn't the jewel of the cinematic Harry Potter franchise. On the whole, I didn't mind about the omissions or additions by comparison with the book. The Death Eater attacks on the Millennium bridge and the Weasley's home were a bit unexciting, but they were at least a reasonably efficient way of signalling Voldemort's growing strength, and thus the extent of the threat which he now represents. And I actively liked the scene with Harry and the waitress in the railway cafe. It felt to me like a Dido and Aeneas moment - Harry is tempted to drop it all for an ordinary Muggle woman, but is called back to his appointed destiny by Dumbledore appearing in front of a poster which emphasises the word 'divine'.

What really put me off, though, was the peculiar passionlessness of it all. The colour palette is similar to that used by Alfonso Cuarón in The Prisoner of Azkaban - dark and grainy and subdued. But this isn't enough to create an ominous atmosphere of fear and suspense when so many of the actors appeared to be just saying their lines rather than putting any expression or emotion into them. This struck me particularly with Michael Gambon's Dumbledore - and since I know from previous films that he is capable of playing this role to much greater effect, I can only assume it stemmed somehow from David Yates' direction. Even Alan Rickman managed to seem as though he were caricaturing his own portrayal of Snape - though I could still have done with more of him, all the same.

On the other hand, Jim Broadbent was absolutely brilliant as Slughorn - very much as I imagined him from the book, and playing the balance between his cosy pompousness and his regret and self-loathing over his earlier relationship with Tom Riddle very nicely. And Tom Felton has really come into his own as Draco Malfoy! I used to be a bit unconvinced by the casting decision there, since he sometimes came across as merely brattish rather than genuinely menacing in the earlier films. But I now applaud the foresight of whoever originally cast him. He's doing unpleasant and manipulative very nicely now, and also combining it very effectively with troubled and uncertain.

For all that, though, the ending felt pretty flat to me. Dumbledore's death and Draco and Snape's escape should carry enormous emotional impact - but they just didn't. And to reveal in a throwaway line with no background explanation that Snape is the Half-Blood Prince, when that moment has such potential for highlighting the parallels between Harry and Snape, again felt like serving up an empty shell of a scene with all the stuffing pulled out of it.

Anyway, it passed an evening, I didn't storm out demanding my money back, and I will probably still buy the DVD just so that I've got them all. But this film is nothing like the calibre of The Prisoner of Azkaban, and is only really worth seeing if you're already invested in the fandom.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)
Strangely having missed the last two films and the last three books I seemed to have enjoyed this more than anyone else I know. I liked the 'Empire Strikes Back' tortured darkness of it all, and as I didn't realise how much was being left out didn't have the same sense of missing bits that everyone else did. There were a lot of awkward plot odds abd ends lying about though - hawkcruxs? Eh?
Aug. 7th, 2009 10:06 am (UTC)
Oh, well I'm glad to hear it works for people who come to it fresh. I think that's been the case for all the other films so far, so it's good to know it still applies.

The stuff about horcruxes will all be central to the final film. What should have been clear by the end of film 6 (though I recognise it was all a bit rushed) is that they are artefacts in which Voldemort has stored a piece of his soul. There are seven of them, and he can't be killed until all of them are destroyed. Two (his diary and the ring which Dumbledore had burnt his hand by touching) have been found and destroyed by the end of film 6. The identification and destruction of the remaining five will take up most of film 7.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 8th, 2009 10:49 am (UTC)
Yes, good point about the ending. Maybe they will start the next film with Dumbledore's funeral. That might work quite well, actually.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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