Friday, July 31, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I’m a bit of a long-term Harry Potter fan, so I had to catch the latest film at the IMAX when it came out a few weeks ago.

The IMAX experience is wonderful for the super large screen, but the 3D felt a bit gimmicky - only the first 15 minutes or so are 3D (I liked the swooping around London bit). Not essential by any means - being a spectacles wearer anyway I found the whole thing a bit uncomfortable.

Half-Blood Prince is definitely one the of the more successful adaptations - brilliantly dark and foreboding, but shot through with touches of humour. Director David Yates has delivered a superior experience, and I’m looking forward to the final two films in the series.

The cinematography just seems to get better and better with each film, but what really pleased me was the acting. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as the leads are now pretty mature and their acting skills have increased quite dramatically since the last film - so much so I wonder if there is a new drama coach involved. There’s not a trace of the awkwardness of their previous performances. All three come across as natural and engaging presences. This is true too of the minor junior roles - I loved Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy and Tom Riddle (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin age 11; Frank Dillane age 16). Draco in particular is a very small part in terms of screen time but major in terms of plot and character development - Felton did very well to convey Draco’s growing turmoil.

Scriptwriter Steve Kloves has changed the ending, and it’s not particularly clear why, as filming it as written would have been just as easy. The filmed version has inspired some criticism but I feel it works well and doesn’t disappoint. The change is relatively minor but would definitely have required J K Rowling’s approval, I think.

As always my personal favorite is Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. Hugely entertaining.

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