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"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

Directed by David Yates.
Written by Steve Kloves.  Based on the book by J.K. Rowling.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Alan Rickman.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  7/22/09

[Remember--I still haven't read ANY of the books!!]


Here's how bad it's getting for me and the "Potter" movies--I literally had to re-read the other reviews I have done this morning in order to remember a) how many other movies there were, and b) what happened in those movies.  The current Potter flick, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", actually had me dozing about an hour into it because so little was happening and I knew that the film had a 153-minute running time.  That doesn't mean it was bad...but, it does mean that not much happens and for a non-book fan like myself, this was an exercise.

But, boy, do the three stars look older!!  Basically, in this film, I still don't know how old the kids are, what grade they are supposed to be in, or why they continue to come to a school where someone or someone(s) have died literally every year.  If your magician child told you that each year around May, somebody died in a fatal magic battle or Triwizard Tournament, would you let your kid go back?  Six times????  Anyway, the kids are all having relationship issues, quidditch issues, Voldemort issues, etc.  Eventually, Harry gets hold of a spell book with notes scribbled in the margins by someone calling himself "The Half-Blood Prince."  As someone else even says during the film, it's odd that Harry doesn't really pursue the truth behind who the Prince really is; in the meantime, Harry and headmaster Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) are still hunting down Voldemort and his minions, led in this film by Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).  By the end, some people are dead.

(Quick Helena Bonham Carter commentary:  If you play the same character...or maybe, portray the same 30 consecutive films, can we really call that "acting"?  Carter reprises not only her Lestrange role here from "Order of the Phoenix", but every movie she has been in since "Fight Club."  It helps that some of these films, like "Sweeney Todd", are Tim Burton films...but, seriously?  Michael Cera has already proven that you can essentially play THE EXACT SAME PERSONALITY in all of your films and people will still love you, but really?  Wouldn't it be cool to see Carter play, say, an American mother of two who regrets some of her life choices, like Kate Winslet's part in "Revolutionary Road"??)

Anyway, here's my problem with Potter movies, particularly the last two--they simply are not any fun on the whole.  Sure, there are a few light moments here as Ron (Rupert Grint) discovers his confidence and both Harry and Ron fight off the ladies, but for me, the fun of magical discovery and hammy evil is gone.  I still loved the one (forgive me, I don't remember if it was the first or second film) where we got to see the map that showed where everyone in Hogwarts was at any given time; that map was so cool that it is given a cameo in "Half-Blood Prince" but there really aren't any cool magic toys to replace it.  I'm tired of watching people fly around on broomsticks; ho-hum, a sort-of teleportation cabinet; blah, a spell or a rock or a cloak that makes you invisible.  I haven't read them, but didn't the book have some cool shit in there?

And, hammy evil.  Sorry, I liked Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) when he and his band of other nasty boys walked around spouting trouble for Harry & Co.  "Inner Demons" Draco didn't really do it for me.  Neither did "Inner Demons" Severus Snape (Alan Rickman).  And, Carter is more comedy than evil at this point in her one does weird better, but that doesn't make her good.

So little actually happens in this film that I'm not even sure I would have seen it had Meg not wanted to go; seriously, is the story progressing at all here?  If the sixth book was this hollow, I would have been sending J.K. Rowling hate mail.  I'm okay with milking innocent bystanders for mad cash--come on, I did go see both "Transformers" films--but you've got to give me a little action, or a little surprise, or some cool magic shit for a 150-minute run!!!  Ugh.  Now I learn that they are making two movies out of the last book, and I'm even more angry.  The power of mad millions!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 07/22/09