Archive for the ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ Category

DVD Sales: The Chart Was Already Hungover Before New Year’s Eve

January 19, 2010

Good news, everyone!  The-Numbers is getting all caught up with their DVD Sales Charts after the holiday delays, and this week, they posted two charts, which wrapped up 2009.  Next week, they should post two more charts, and then be right back on schedule!  You should really check out the site- it’s fantastic.  But let’s get on with the numbers.  Over the past two weeks, a few new movies debuted on the home market, but none of the newcomers could even come close to The Hangover‘s level of success.  The surprise blockbuster (and surprise Best Picture winner at the Golden Globes) continued its dominant run with two straight weeks atop the DVD Sales Chart.  Click inside to see two weeks of DVD Sales along with my observations:

DVD Sales Notes:

The Hangover finished out a relatively weak year of DVD sales with a bang!  With 5.9 million units sold, the R-rated smash comedy has grossed a tremendous $113 million in just two weeks.  It’s a little depressing when you consider that most of those egregiously inappropriate DVDs were opened on Christmas Day… have we truly lost any of the meaning of Christmas?

-Three movies with similar grosses debuted in the last two weeks.  Inglourious Basterds, the sole movie keeping the Weinstein Company alive at this point, had a pretty solid start on the home market.  The fictional World War II account, which earned $120 million in theaters, has moved 2.3 million copies in two weeks, good for $42.5 million in revenue.  Meanwhile, District 9, which earned a similar $115 million in theaters, got off to a softer start.  The alien comedy sold 1.1 million units in its opening week, earning $18.4 million along the way.  Finally, G-Force, the animated guinea pig comedy that found $119 million in theaters, got off to the softest start of the three.  Audiences apparently weren’t too impressed with what they saw in theaters, as G-Force sold only 1.7 million copies for $33.8 million after two weeks.

-Indie sleeper hit (500) Days Of Summer took its sweet time grossing $32.4 million in the late Summer and early Fall.  Will that be the case on the home market as well?  The film, which never earned more than $3.7 million on a weekend during its theatrical run, earned $5.2 million in its first week on DVD.  Not bad for a film budgeted at just $7.5 million.

-Let’s not even talk about All About Steve.  Maybe Sandra Bullock’s success in The Blind Side fooled $3.8 million worth of people to actually pick up this crappy movie on DVD.

-The TV-on-DVD performer of the week goes to Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Darkside, which earned $8 million in its first week.  Other TV big-shots are Lost – The Complete Fifth Season, with it’s $28.5 million gross, and Planet Earth, which has become a $187 million blockbuster in its two and a half years on the home market.

Up and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen continue their impressive runs, and the films have sold 8.5 million and 9.3 million copies, respectively.  Check out the charts below:

Top DVD Sales For The Week Ending December 27, 2009
Rank Title Units this Week % Chg Total Units Sales this Week Total Sales Wks
1 The Hangover 2,047,577 -47.5% 5,944,241 $42,875,648 $113,683,099 2
2 District 9 1,080,097 -.-% 1,080,097 $18,379,039 $18,379,039 1
3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 1,015,598 -29.4% 6,653,089 $16,568,567 $89,246,036 3
4 Inglourious Basterds 819,645 -45.8% 2,331,940 $15,335,640 $42,562,394 2
5 Up 742,861 25.1% 8,477,982 $12,571,808 $145,252,868 7
6 G-Force 647,444 -36.8% 1,671,487 $13,079,081 $33,827,523 2
7 Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Darkside 630,858 -.-% 630,858 $8,062,365 $8,062,365 1
8 Star Trek 459,067 44.6% 6,069,513 $7,471,499 $89,535,355 6
9 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian 402,758 27.0% 2,976,654 $6,442,114 $39,038,274 4
10 Julie And Julia 399,277 -13.0% 1,841,435 $6,799,687 $31,359,638 3
11 Public Enemies 326,384 -14.0% 1,590,359 $6,084,287 $28,868,532 3
12 (500) Days of Summer 316,351 -.-% 316,351 $5,150,194 $5,150,194 1
13 Santa Buddies 267,004 22.6% 2,177,890 $4,661,436 $38,436,294 5
14 All About Steve 258,609 -.-% 258,609 $3,876,549 $3,876,549 1
15 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 232,195 -0.9% 9,267,823 $5,802,553 $209,054,675 10
16 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 208,443 38.2% $3,435,287 429
17 Terminator Salvation 205,372 -16.1% 1,812,477 $3,361,303 $23,125,217 4
18 The Proposal 195,339 8.7% 4,735,360 $3,404,251 $77,819,029 11
19 Angels And Demons 174,454 4.1% 1,733,804 $3,163,793 $28,808,435 5
20 Four Christmases 173,430 11.0% 1,511,648 $2,970,856 $23,821,144 5
21 Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure 170,768 50.6% 3,263,274 $2,559,812 $51,580,997 9
22 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 158,687 9.5% 4,825,751 $2,605,053 $81,447,405 9
23 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 147,426 2.3% 4,197,601 $2,578,363 $67,920,913 8
24 Twilight 145,982 16.0% 10,239,767 $2,636,975 $186,221,644 40
25 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 144,968 -.-% $1,439,431 632
26 The Ugly Truth 138,416 95.2% 1,793,982 $2,074,856 $28,373,641 7
27 A Christmas Story 132,683 -.-% $1,260,316 483
28 American Pie Presents: The Book of Love 128,178 -.-% 128,178 $2,177,744 $2,177,744 1
29 Lost – The Complete Fifth Season 122,036 -22.3% 730,531 $5,206,776 $28,582,126 3
30 True Blood: The Complete First Season 114,255 -.-% 1,790,340 $3,247,127 $61,528,999 32
Top DVD Sales For The Week Ending December 20, 2009
Rank Title Units this Week % Chg Total Units Sales this Week Total Sales Wks
1 The Hangover 3,896,664 -.-% 3,896,664 $70,807,451 $70,807,451 1
2 Inglourious Basterds 1,512,295 -.-% 1,512,295 $27,226,754 $27,226,754 1
3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 1,437,869 -65.8% 5,637,491 $23,095,052 $72,677,469 2
4 G-Force 1,024,043 -.-% 1,024,043 $20,748,442 $20,748,442 1
5 Up 593,852 12.7% 7,735,121 $11,420,546 $132,681,060 6
6 Julie And Julia 459,027 -53.3% 1,442,158 $7,817,230 $24,559,951 2
7 Public Enemies 379,535 -57.1% 1,263,975 $7,337,854 $22,784,245 2
8 Star Trek 317,578 -37.1% 5,610,446 $5,248,453 $82,063,856 5
9 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian 317,188 -49.4% 2,573,896 $5,276,327 $32,596,160 3
10 Terminator Salvation 244,710 -30.8% 1,607,105 $4,031,940 $19,763,914 3
11 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 234,189 -14.3% 9,035,628 $5,852,383 $203,252,122 9
12 Santa Buddies 217,824 -23.8% 1,910,886 $4,358,920 $33,774,858 4
13 The Proposal 179,636 22.6% 4,540,021 $3,324,326 $74,414,778 10
14 Angels And Demons 167,557 -20.8% 1,559,350 $3,435,874 $25,644,642 4
15 Lost – The Complete Fifth Season 157,036 -65.2% 608,495 $6,787,708 $23,375,350 2
16 Four Christmases 156,256 -20.5% 1,338,218 $2,721,980 $20,850,288 4
17 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 150,801 1.1% $2,577,280 428
18 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 144,956 -31.2% 4,667,064 $2,343,620 $78,842,351 8
19 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 144,177 -18.3% 4,050,175 $2,503,533 $65,342,550 7
20 Planet Earth – The Complete BBC Series 143,787 -.-% 3,475,176 $3,880,811 $187,320,938 139
21 The Original Television Christmas Classics 129,369 -19.8% $2,530,458 275
22 Twilight 125,866 -4.3% 10,093,785 $2,531,920 $183,584,669 39
23 Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie 120,017 -.-% 120,017 $2,399,140 $2,399,140 1
24 Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure 113,393 -13.1% 3,092,506 $1,893,663 $49,021,185 8
25 Monsters vs. Aliens 96,637 -40.0% 4,769,589 $1,394,994 $78,758,267 12
26 Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (TV Special) 91,182 -.-% 1,991,486 $1,184,454 $31,619,579 161
27 My Sister’s Keeper 88,454 -46.9% 1,044,135 $1,717,777 $17,147,544 5
28 Funny People 74,037 -39.5% 494,994 $1,534,624 $9,632,755 4
29 The Ugly Truth 70,919 -78.8% 1,655,566 $1,063,076 $26,298,785 6
30 Edward Scissorhands 70,140 -.-% $723,550 485


DVD Sales: Harry Potter And The Half-Sales Prince; DVDs Declining

January 12, 2010

Well, The-Numbers DVD Sales Chart is still running behind schedule, but there is a new chart to view this week, for the frame ending on December 13th.  Considering that this week should have been prime time for holiday shopping, there’s just no way to look at these results and not be at least a little bit disappointed.  The harsh reality is that, the DVD industry, just like the CD industry, is on the decline.  Look at the image to the left, from the Wall Street Journal, to see what I mean.  Studios continue to claim that Blu-Ray sales are offseting DVD Sales decreases, but that’s not really the case.  On the whole, less people are buying DVDs, and that is certainly appraent in this week’s DVD Sales Chart.  You can read on to see the full chart, along with my slightly depressing DVD Sales Notes:

DVD Sales Notes:

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince certainly took off on the home market, but the speed that it left shelves was more along the lines of a Nimbus 2000 than a Firebolt.  Half Blood Prince sold 4.2 million copies in its first week, good for $49 million in revenue.  That number seems fine until you realize that the last installment of this franchise, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, which opened on this same week in 2007, sold 6.9 million copies in its first week, earning $143.4 million.  Clearly, both sales and prices have declined drastically since then.
-Second and third place went to two movies that earned just under $100 million during their theatrical releases.  The Meryl Streep and Amy Adams cooking feature Julie And Julia earned a solid $94 million in theaters, and it earned a similarly solid $16.7 million in its first week on the home market.  Meanwhile, the Johnny Depp old-school-gangster piece Public Enemies, which grossed $97 million at the box office, found $15.5 million worth of DVD revenue.
-There are so many possible puns for the movies in 5th and 6th place, but I’ll try not to overdo it.  Up went up 2% this week, and Star Trek beamed up 3%.  The hot air balloon feature and the space shuttle picture both lifted off this week, selling over 500,000 units in their 5th and 4th weeks, respectively.  Up has reached a sky-high $121 million total, while Star Trek has found a not quite out of this world $76.8 million.
-The TV-on-DVD performer of the week is Lost – The Complete 5th Season.  With 451,459 units sold, the ABC drama came in 7th place, but with $16.5 million earned, the ridiculously awesome television series came in 3rd in terms of total revenue.  That makes me feel good.  I love LOST
-Kiddie movies and Christmas movies thrive at this time of year, as parents look for family-friendly stocking stuffers for their children.  That explains the reappearance of movies like Hannah Montana The Movie and It’s A Wonderful Life.  Check out the full chart below:
DVD Sales Chart For The Week Ending December 13, 2009
Rank Title Units this Week % Che Total Units Sales this Week Total Sales Wks
1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 4,199,622 -.-% 4,199,622 $49,038,566 $49,038,566 1
2 Julie And Julia 983,131 -.-% 983,131 $16,742,721 $16,742,721 1
3 Public Enemies 884,440 -.-% 884,440 $15,463,372 $15,463,372 1
4 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian 627,004 -61.5% 2,256,708 $10,454,038 $27,317,074 2
5 Up 527,053 2.2% 7,141,269 $9,881,137 $121,248,761 5
6 Star Trek 505,214 3.0% 5,292,868 $8,044,624 $76,799,943 4
7 Lost – The Complete Fifth Season 451,459 -.-% 451,459 $16,550,397 $16,550,397 1
8 Terminator Salvation 353,608 -64.9% 1,362,395 $5,654,192 $15,731,974 2
9 Santa Buddies 285,994 -34.4% 1,693,062 $5,550,543 $29,458,409 3
10 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 273,395 44.0% 8,801,439 $6,011,956 $197,164,619 8
11 The Ugly Truth 241,607 157.4% 1,491,887 $3,621,689 $23,845,237 5
12 Angels And Demons 211,661 -40.1% 1,391,793 $3,824,799 $22,082,111 3
13 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 210,821 44.2% 4,522,108 $3,443,930 $76,522,006 7
14 Four Christmases 196,542 -27.5% 1,181,962 $3,693,024 $18,228,545 3
15 A Christmas Story 176,804 85.1% $1,785,013 481
16 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 176,384 10.8% 3,905,998 $2,791,594 $62,857,838 6
17 The Original Television Christmas Classics 161,265 28.8% $3,223,687 274
18 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 156,646 58.4% $1,759,996 630
19 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 149,087 -33.5% $2,510,073 427
20 The Proposal 146,567 -6.6% 4,360,385 $2,228,859 $71,090,936 9
21 How the Grinch Stole Christmas 144,047 -.-% $1,712,719 421
22 Hannah Montana The Movie 139,933 -.-% 3,189,925 $2,517,395 $54,125,422 17
23 Elf 137,748 91.2% $1,183,255 265
24 Twilight 131,578 -15.2% 9,967,919 $2,862,150 $181,028,196 38
25 It’s a Wonderful Life – 60th Anniversary Edition 128,508 -.-% 1,347,468 $1,849,230 $19,119,577 163
26 Monsters vs. Aliens 121,949 51.8% 4,633,877 $1,812,699 $76,746,361 11
27 My Sister’s Keeper 119,018 79.9% 908,021 $2,355,366 $14,524,912 4
28 Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure 102,989 -15.4% 2,951,541 $1,605,599 $46,607,587 7
29 Funny People 94,191 -8.3% 392,755 $1,953,945 $7,514,074 3
30 Barbie and the Three Musketeers 67,379 -.-% 930,472 $841,564 $13,329,776 13

Color Me Stupid: "G-Force" Beats "Potter"

July 26, 2009

I didn’t think it was possible, but the new Disney movie G-Force, about Guinea Pigs that become spies, took the number spot away from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The latter dropped a whopping 61% in its second weekend, getting $30 million, while the rodents brought in $32 million. In third was The Ugly Truth with $27 million, and Orphan came in fourth opening to $12.8 million.

Harry Potter Makes Almost 400 Million: What’s That In Knuts, Sickles, And Galleons?

July 20, 2009

The cash gobbling phenomenon entitled Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had a rather spectacular five day run. It pulled it $79.5 million over the weekend, and $139.7 million since its Wednesday opening… in America. Adding in the international figures?

$396.7 million.

I’m sorry, that’s just not impressive enough:


That’s a little better.  Good… Lord… Now why don’t they take those profits and jump start a Superman film?

Coming in second place was Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs at $17.7 million. Transformers sadly continues to sell tickets, at $13.8 million.

Omissions, Changes, And Additions, I Would Have Loved To See In "Harry Potter"

July 17, 2009

The movie has found huge financial success, smashed records, sold out theaters, and is pushing that dollar sign to surpass the James Bond movies to become the most successful franchise of all time. I wrote my review, tried to leave out spoilers, and attempted as best I could to base the film on the film’s merits alone. My general assessment came to: it was a pretty good film (beautifully shot, if nothing else), but flawed and jumbled at times, and tended to focus on matters less important than those pertaining to the main thought. It got everything it absolutely HAD to get in, however, and has set us up for what I hope will be the best film(s) to date; the two-part finale Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

That’s all well and good. Despite my liking of this movie, the book nerd in me is clawing to get out. So I’m letting him go. The movies have always made decisions that irked that side of me. For instance, why, dear God, is Order of the Phoenix the shortest film for the longest book? Who made that decision? This is a look at some things I wish had been included (or excluded) in the movie, based on what I know from the books. Some of these are small, mere sentences of dialog that I was waiting to here, because they give a lot of weight to the characters who say them; some others are full scenes that have been changed or removed completely. I’m not worried about Spoilers here at all, though I’ll keep those about the seventh installment out. Everything else is fair game. So here goes:

1. The Half-Blood Prince
A “Macguffin” is a plot device used to catch the viewers attention and pushes a story forward. Examples are the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and pretty much anything that comes after the “and the” in titles such as “[Characters name] and the [Insert Macguffin here].” It doesn’t always have to be the main focus of a narrative, but it is typically an important part of the story. The “Half-Blood Prince,” seeing as it is part of the title here, seems to be a focal part of this sixth installment.

I remember when the title was first released. Speculation was huge, as people tried to decided what it could be. It’s really a rather fantastic title, invoking images of some regal character shrouded in mystery. People were surprised, after reading the book, that the Half-Blood Prince was merely the old owner of a potions book. It isn’t that we were disappointed, quite the contrary, it was a great story with a great reveal, but it wasn’t the biggest part of the action. But it was still interesting. Harry grew to trust this “Prince” character, who guided him through potions so effortlessly. He felt the sting of betrayal, when the Prince’s spell Sectumsempera turned out to be a violent and horrific curse. And when it was revealed to be Snape’s old book, after he had killed Dumbledore and was fleeing the castle, it made for a surprising and emotional turn.

The movie barely mentions the Half-Blood Prince, and never quite instills Harry’s fascination with it. It’s mentioned early on, and then forgotten, so when Snape says that he had fashioned the nickname for himself it’s sort of, well, “Oh, okay.” But this all really comes down to the second thing I wanted to see more of.

2. Snape
I would not be alone if I claimed that Snape is J.K. Rowling’s most interesting creation, something she herself called, “A gift of a character.” Morally ambiguous until (and perhaps even after) the end, always interesting, with a troubled and powerful back story, he is a highlight of the novels. And Alan Rickman plays the hell out of him with that cold sneer, and knowing glare he can’t help but grab your attention. And he’s always been underutilized. This story should be his: his nickname is the title, his development is the most interesting, and after the series’ completion it becomes even more clear that Half-Blood Prince belonged to him. So let’s see him a little more. Let’s show him teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, the job he’s always wanted but been continuously turned down for.

There’s another vitally important part that was cut: it was Snape who overheard the prophecy that resulted in the Potters’ death. This was another great moment cut from the book, when Harry realizes Snape is more than just a sneering professor. He sold them out to Voldemort. This is another scene that becomes much more important in the final book, so it’s too bad it was cut.

This is really a minor complaint, because he was in the film enough. I just always wanted more. He may not be downplayed as strongly as Sirius Black was, and Dumbledore suffered similarly until this film, but we could always use more Snape.

3. More Ron And Harry

For those of you read those slasher fics and make horrific photos like this, this, this, and this, that’s not what I mean by “Ron and Harry,” and you should go paint something, because you’re likely a living, breathing, version of Todd from Wedding Crashers. (By the way, all four of those photos were on the first page of images by googling “Harry and Draco.” For more disturbing thoughts, google “Snape and Hermione” and ponder the sad, sad life these people must live).

This is more a complaint for the whole series, really. Ron’s role in the book is a confidant; a best friend who is trustworthy and loyal, and who understands Harry better than anybody else. When they do fight and don’t speak, Harry realizes that, though she is still very dear to him, Hermione is not Ron.

In the movies, Ron’s role is comic relief, being a whiny prat, and making this face:

Which I assume is the result of smoking too much floo powder.

Part of this might be due to Rupert Grint as an actor, but I think it was mainly a conscious choice of the writers. You see, Ron has suffered from what I’m going to dubb “Breastism.” Particularly since the third movie, producers realized that puberty was, in fact, not going to turn Emma Watson into an acne ridden Rosie O’Donnell, but into a rather beautiful young lady (breasts included). So at this point, Hermione stepped into the spot Ron was supposed to have, and Ron got silently pushed to the sideline. Case-in-point: Did anyone else notice in the last scene in Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Hermione watched a beautiful sunset and talked about the future, while Ron sat on the porch, made that aforementioned face, and didn’t say a single word? Grint did a good job this movie, and I would have loved to see his friendship become more meaningful. Though it was nice to see him play Quidditch.

4. Voldemort’s Past, More Memories, and What Are Those Hor-thingies?

This is actually a biggie. While my critiques mentioned previously are just things I would like to see, I believe this omission actually hurts the movies narratives. For one, if asked what this film is about, what do you say? “Dumbledore helps Harry learn about Voldemort’s past in order to help him destroy the Dark Lord, as he is the ‘Chosen One.'” Really? If that’s true then there is remarkably little to learn. We see two memories in the film, one views young Tom Riddle in an orphanage, the other where he asks Professor Slughorn about Horcruxes. That is all. In the novel we see a plethora of other memories, including one neat one concerning Voldemort’s mother and grandfather (which probably needed to be omitted) as well as some really spectacular scenes when he was a young man. We see him come to Hogwarts to ask Dumbledore for a position as teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts (a position that inexplicably seems to attract villains, liars, and bitches dressed in pink), and him as a young man working in the shop Borgin and Burke’s. It’s through these we learn exactly what Voldemort uses for his horcruxes. This little tidbit is never mentioned in the film. I imagine this can be taken care of by a letter given to Harry as part of the will, but that’s not nearly as exciting.

For one, think about how awesome it would be to see Ralph Fiennes playing Voldemort without the deformities that come with the role? He could be the young, dashing, Tom Riddle, and we could see him change with every passing memory. Hell, this could be done in one scene, really. Just have Harry and Dumbledore go straight from one thought to the next. It adds ten minutes to the movie, but they would ten awesome minutes.

Also, a lot of people might be confused about Horcruxes, and exactly why Voldemort looks like a slit nosed offspring of Lex Luthor and an albino. It’s because he’s made six horcruxes, meaning he’s killed somebody and ripped his soul apart six times, leaving him disfigured and more evil than ever. That kind of ups his threat a little, especially since he’s so scarcely seen in these movies.

The reason these parts were taken out, I suppose, is because they’re slow and dialog based, but I don’t see why that’s a problem. The movie hurt on the action side already, why not keep these bits in to give the story more weight?

5. Important lines of Dialog
Rowling is a master of dialog, and every now and then she’ll write a line that’s so perfect and so weighty it practically screams at you. I always listen for these lines in the movie, and they’re almost always omitted, making we want to strangle Steve Kloves for writing yet another screenplay that removes what I see as vitally important moments. These wouldn’t add more than twenty seconds to the movie, but they can occasionally be very revealing of the speaker or the situation. And in a movie when characters are forced to get sidelined, since there are so many to fit in, these bits can tell a lot without much effort.

A “Crude” Gateway: The cave scene in the movie was almost perfect. Yes, it was a little short, but I understood why. By and large, they really did that well. But there was one thing, one tiny thing, that I had hoped to see. When Dumbledore realizes the cave entrance requires a blood sacrifice to open, he mumbles something to the extent of “How Crude” under his breath. What’s interesting is he says it with a mix of disgust and disappointment. Despite Voldemort’s pure evil, Dumbledore expects more from him than something this vile. It’s a nifty moment, and it says something about both Dumbledore and Voldemort; though I’m not even sure I could phrase exactly what. The only way to describe the emotion is the quote itself. Though I can forgive them for this, since they left in, “You’re blood is far more valuable than mine.”

Snape Ain’t No Yellow-Belly: The last scene in the film was disappointing for many reasons, which I will discuss soon. But the Flight of the Prince in the novel was full of drama and action, and left Snape morally ambiguous while giving him some great moments. One of these moments was when Harry shouts, “Fight back you coward!” (which they left in the film) only to have Snape, in a rare moment, lose his poise and shout back, “Do not call me coward!” It’s powerful, and is even more so once the whole story is wrapped up.

“I am with you”: The other two, as much as I love them, I can live without. But it was this I was hoping to see the most. It’s such an important line, it made it onto this terrific fan-made poster for the film:

In the beginning of the book, when Dumbledore takes Harry to find Slughorn, he tells him to take out his wand but that they shouldn’t be afraid of being attacked. When Harry asks why, Dumbledore responds simply, “Because you are with me.”

Fast forward to the end of the book, after Dumbledore has drunk that potion and is horribly week, and he asks Harry to get them back to Hogwarts. Harry says, “I will, don’t worry.” To which Dumbledore replies, “I am not worried, Harry. I am with you.” It’s a moving, powerful passing of the torch moment, a book-end to this chapter of the story, and it’s at this point we should have realized for certain that the man was about to bite the dust.

6. Bill Weasley

The older Weasley brothers have yet to make an appearance, but I thought for sure Bill would make it into this one. Considering his wedding to Fleur Delacour is a rather important part of the seventh, I thought they’d set it up here. Does this mean there will be no wedding? Will he never be attacked by Fenrir Greyback and become part werewolf? Just wondering, that’s all.

7. Less Romance, Please

You might tell me the film was about Harry learning about Voldemort, I think it was more about the teen romances between the characters. It’s a subplot of the book that became a major plot to the movie (probably to appease those fans that now read up Twilight and think Edward Cullen is all they want in a man). Yes it gave us some funny moments, and yes it was nice to see the “Oh, don’t you remember what it was like to have a crush when you were a horny sixteen year old?” aspect of the story, but it took the place of a lot of those other parts I mentioned.

The thing about the books is that they tie in the romance with other parts of the story very well, it’s rarely just romance. This was done at parts in the movie, for instance when Hermione zapped McLaggen in the Quidditch tryouts so that Ron would win the position. This shows her feelings for Ron as well as moves the narrative forward. Hermione had a lot more to do in the books than pine over Ron (like berate Harry for his potions book and help him figure out the details of Horcruxes) but this movie debases her to a needy girl and makes Ron look like an uncaring ladies man.

8. Burning of the Burrow? Really?

In an astonishing display of time wasting that could have been used to do any of the other things I have mentioned, they throw in a random, dull attack of Ron’s house halfway through the movie that does nothing to advance the story. Woo hoo, I’ll pass thanks.

9. Don’t Change My Ending (or: David Yates Does It Again)

The cave scene was spectacular, I’ll grant you that. But the changes to the remaining scenes leave me baffled. For one, when they get back, they’re supposed to see the Dark Mark over that tower, so that’s where they go, only to discover it’s a trap by Draco Malfoy. In the movie, they just apparate to the tower, and he’s there waiting. How did he know to be there? That that is the exact place Dumbledore would arrive? Not only that, but it’s supposed to be a full scale siege on the castle. This is also necessary; why else would Draco fix the vanishing cabinet? Why did he need to get the Voldy Cronies in just so he could kill Dumbledore and leave? Why couldn’t he kill Dumbledore on day one and run away? No, no, no, the battle is important, because that’s the only way this whole thing makes sense. But they took it out because there’s a battle in the next one, and they didn’t want it to be ‘repetitive.’ To which I decry: “Lame.” First off, who amongst us doesn’t want to see two bad ass wizarding battles at Hogwarts? Who complained in Lord of the Rings when we saw another huge siege? Nobody, because they were fucking sweet. There was no reason to cut this battle, and it would have lifted this rather action-less film into the realm of exciting. Cut the burrow attack, throw this in, and you’re golden.

There was also no reason to leave Harry unstunned. In the book, Dumbledore hears Draco, stuns Harry, and hides him so he can’t interfere, he can just watch. In the movie he tells Harry to hide underneath and be “Vewry vewry quiet.” Harry then proceeds to not do a damn thing when Dumbledore is murdered. How is this within his character at all? He’s always a hot head, running into danger. Yeah, yeah, “Dumbledore told him so,” I don’t care. He should have been stunned.

This scene also cut a lot of great stuff from Dumbledore, which is a shame, cause now he’ll never get to say it [sniffle].

And the funeral! Why remove Dumbledore’s funeral?! I’ll admit, the image of all the kids removing the Dark Mark with the light from their wands was spectacular, but 1: why were they out of bed? This would only have worked if, there had BEEN A BATTLE,” and 2: The funeral is a poignant, moving scene. We had centaurs shooting arrows in honor, Mermaids singing sad songs of lament, and wizards from all over coming to honor this fallen warrior. Instead we get “Oh noes, he’s dead, THE END!” It wouldn’t have taken long, and it would have worked fine.

That’s all I can think of for now, and this post has gotten to be ridiculously long. Basically these movies have needed to be 3 hours or more since the fourth (which people will watch, I don’t understand the qualms), and they focused a bit too much on unnecessary stuff. I still liked the film, but the Book nerd in me had to let out his wrath.

Feel the sting, Hollywood execs, and don’t disappoint me again.

Harry Potter And The Record Breaking Opening

July 16, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
had a record breaking Wednesday opening, soaring past this summer’s Transformers and last summer’s The Dark Knight, which had held the record at 18 million. Well, Harry decided that was a low and paltry number and decided he’d Expecto Dinero his way to a 22 million opening on Wednesday. Reviews are strong (though they have dropped from 98% to 88% since the films release), and I don’t think the film will be hurt by word-of-mouth. I liked it, but as I indicated before, there’s always something that irks me. I typically like them the second time better, once I know exactly what to expect.

But so long as Potter fans don’t suddenly turn on their beloved hero, this should easily be the biggest haul of the summer.

EDIT: Did I say Wednesday release? I meant midnight release. It’s going on to take a 58 million Wednesday release, which is still behind Transformers. But these are estimates, so there’s still hope.

Review: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

July 15, 2009

It never fails; I always walk out of the most recent Harry Potter movie somewhat disappointed. Try as I might (and I do), I can never sufficiently distance myself from the novels that I absolutely devoured. And while I have improved at suppressing any nitpicking tendencies, I cannot help but make comparisons and wonder about how the film might have benefited if they’d included something, or done something a little differently. For this review, however, I will try to shoot straight and keep it as a film analysis, though I guarantee you’ll see the phrase, “in the book” more than once. I will also, for the sake of you that haven’t read the books and/or live under a rock, avoid any major spoilers.

First off, I would like to point out the circus that was the movie theater. The multiplex I went to had at least 20 theaters playing the film, but I suspect it went to all 24. There were times at midnight, 12:15, 12:30, 12:45, and 1:10. All…sold… out. It was a Potterfest of epic (and absurdly geeky) proportions. As I roamed from crowded theater to crowded theater looking for a seat, I saw multiple people reading the book, some with what appeared to be the booklight that comes with the Snuggie. Did I judge them? I say unto you, nay. I was totally within my element. It was a a geek fest, a ‘Harry Potter Woodstock’ if you will, and I was excited to be a part of it once again. This film is predicted to break the record for biggest Wednesday opening ever, and is on the way to be the number one film of the summer.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
is the sixth installment of the beloved series based on the novels by J.K. Rowling. Like the books, each film has grown more mature with each passing chapter, and while I’m not entirely sure this film deserves the distinction of being the ‘darkest’ film to date, it’s certainly gotten past the age of innocence. There is a serious overtone to the film, though it’s often blinded by the characters budding romances that play off like bubbly, magical romantic comedies and, while entertaining, occasionally detract from what I’d like the film to focus on.

I find it very challenging to look at this film outside of the context from the whole series. It hardly stands on its own. The typical three-act is missing here, there is no beginning or end. It never says “Ready, set” and skips right to “GO!” and suddenly Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) goes off with Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) on some magical quest and Death Eaters have demolished the Millenium Bridge (and kidnapped Ollivander the Wandmaker, an important part not obvious to the three of you who haven’t read the books). Characters show up without introduction, you’re expected to be able to recall things from the past. Now it actually made for an interesting film, but don’t see this if you haven’t read or seen the previous stories.

The plot of this film is perhaps more subtle, and at times more disjointed, than those of the past. This is partly due to its unique structure, where it acts as a bridge leading up to the climactic final story. If I had to summarize, I’d say “Harry learns about secrets from Voldemort’s past under Dumbledore’s training, whilst he and his friends deal with the awkward and comedic sexual tensions that come with being sixteen.” That’s a pretty blunt summary though.

Really, so much occurs in the story, it is a challenge to keep up. Scenes absolutely fly by, a trait I’ve noticed with all the films, in order to get enough information to move on to the next occurrence. Many times, like the absent start of a movie, there is no introduction to a scene. It’s a shot of Harry and Dumbledore in his office, and suddenly the dive into the Pensieve to explore a memory without a word. “Go!” It’s all necessary, perhaps, to keep the complex story progressing, but for what is really a slow paced movie the scenes go mighty fast.

And this is a rather slow movie. There’s not a tremendous amount of action here, and when it does come up it is relegated to quick wand movements that launch what appear to be electric shocks, which are then deflected by the opponent by a quick flick of his own wand. It’s fast and furious, but it’s rather boring. They rarely say a spell they’re launching, and all the magic look the same. But this film, perhaps more than any other so far, is not about the magic, but about the characters. Director David Yates does not try to mystify us with the impressive facets that exist in this fantastic world, but he does try to get into the hearts of the people within it. It’s a wise choice, and an ambitious and difficult one. For one, there are so many characters present in this beloved universe it’s hard to fit them all in. There’s a scene midway through the movie where we see Remus Lupin, Arthur Weasley, and Nymphadora Tonks briefly, and it felt like this scene existed only to show us these characters are still around. We’re not even introduced to the fact that Lupin and Tonks are dating, it’s just expressed as fact. Then follows a wholly unnecessary attack scene that was added to the film to give us an action beat. I was unimpressed.

But some of the characters are explored greatly. Harry and Dumbledore spent ample time together, and for the first time since Richard Harris died, we see how much Dumbledore cares about Harry. Gambon really nails the role, and becomes a Dumbledore who is powerful, wise, weird, and caring.

Other characters are broadened as well. Tom Felton’s Draco Malfoy is given a lot to do this movie, and much of it is wordless acting. But he puts on a face much different this his curling upper lip sneer, and shows desperation and isolation I didn’t know if he’d be able to pull off. But he does a remarkable job here, despite the fact that every time he pulls off the cover to the Vanishing Cabinet it looks like the exact same shot.

Rupert Grint also surprised me in this film. Of the main trio, I’ve always been least impressed with Ron. But he embraces the humorous, side to the character well here, and actually delivers some funny moments in his deadpan manner. It is unfortunate that Ron has been somewhat sidelined in the films, while Harry and Hermione’s friendship has taken the forefront.

And then there’s newcomer Jim Broadbent as professor Horace Slughorn, who is a scene stealer if there ever was one. Slughorn is an eccentric, odd, sycophant who surrounds himself with the best and the brightest wizards so that he might take credit for them later. But beneath this lies a troubled, compassionate man, and when Broadbent delivers those moments, they’re some of the best in the film.

Alan Rickman’s Snape is always underutilized, but he’s fun to watch on screen. That sarcastic tone and face he always wears has made him somewhat of an enigma, something that really comes into play for this story. I would have loved to see him teaching a class, and there are some moments I wished he would have, well, cut loose a little more. But as always, Rickman owns the role.

The one character who we don’t see enough of, which leads to a large part of why the movie’s plot is kind of shotgun splattered, is Lord Voldemort himself. The main point of the novel revolves around Dumbledore teaching Harry about Voldemort’s past, through a series of flashbacks. These are minimized in the film; they only show two, and there’s not much discussion about them. The supposed reason is because it doesn’t make for an exciting cinematic experience, but it was also the axle that the plot wheels rotated on. Take that away and there’s not much left. Voldemort is also so rarely displayed in the movies, it would have ‘upped’ his menace a little bit. The sixth book was the greatest opportunity to understand the character, to see how powerful and grotesque he actually is, and explain why and how he transformed from a charming, albeit sadistic young man, to a slit-nosed blood-thirsty creature. Neither the movies nor the books preceding this story ever showed much of Voldemort, and now that they’ve cut him from this film they’ve really stunted his role in the movies.

The movie, dark as it can be, has a lot of romance in it that never plays like I’d want it to. Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione; we’re always told that these couples care for each other in a ‘snogging’ sort of way, but it’s rarely shown. We get a lot of laughs out of Ron’s relationship with Lavender Brown (played annoyingly and perfectly by Jessie Cave), while Hermione casts jealous stares, but like a lot in this film, it comes out of nowhere and without warning. Suddenly, Harry falls for Ginny Weasley, though their relationship is sacrificed as well.

But if there’s one thing I had to compliment in the film, I’d say it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen. The cinematography is spectacular and breathtaking. This film has done one thing which I never thought a Harry Potter film could do: it exceeded my expectations, albeit for only one scene. There’s a part (it’s in the previews briefly) where Dumbledore forms a giant halo of fire, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get chills right now, thinking about how incredible it looked on screen. Not only was the visualization beautiful, but the beautiful score matched the mood and the shot I found myself leaning forward in my seat to better hear and see. It was a fantastic moment for me, indeed, and that shot (as well of the scene that accompany it) is one of the best book-to-screen adaptions this series has seen yet. It was what the entire series should strive to be.

But I just can’t get over how jilted the story always feels when I watch one of these films. The Half-Blood Prince should be an intriguing mystery, but when it’s revealed it seems like a “Oh, well we need to tell you this,” moment rather than a ‘gasp,’ and the film cuts a lot of the mystique Harry finds in the character. In the book, Harry feels betrayed when he realizes on the spells the Prince wrote down is a brutal, dark curse; but this isn’t felt in the film. And it jumps from lighthearted teen romance to watching young Tom Riddle talk about murdering seven people so quickly you have to switch gears pretty fast. This dichotomy works in the novels, since you get filler pages and what not to act as a buffer, but the film has to lay out the bare essentials to fit it all in.

And as an adaption, I think I have to admit it does that. It gets in almost all of what it needs to, though it’s occasionally haphazard and the bare minimum, they do quite well with the difficult task. There is a lot I would have loved to see, lines thrown in here and there, a scene approached differently, but it all worked out. I felt the altered ending hurt the film, however, as the removal of a particular ‘battle scene’ robbed it of some much needed excitement, and the removal of a particular ‘other’ scene robbed it of some closure and poignancy.

I need to see it again (I always like them better the second time, one I know what to expect), and I plan to post a more spoiler-rich summary of what I liked and didn’t like, but for now take it as a good film, neither the best nor the worst in a pretty stellar series, and enjoy returning to Potterville once more.


This Week In Blockbusters: YOMIGOD IT’S HARRY POTTER

July 14, 2009

It’s here. Grab your yellow and red scarves, put on those glasses, use a sharpie to draw a lightning shaped scar on your forehead, get over that bout of spattergroit, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince arrives in theaters tonight at midnight. Have you already bought your tickets? If not, you’ll likely have to wait. This movie is taking the pre-order ticket realm by storm, selling out like alcohol at a Taylor Swift concert. It’s the last really big blockbuster of a relatively bland summer, and I think it’s going to blow the rest out of the water. Well, I at least hope so. We should not, we cannot, let Transformers take the summer. Remember long ago when I wrote this? Yeah, forget that.

I am still displeased that Warner Brothers moved it back six months, and even more displeased that they’re going to seem vindicated since this movie is going to crush. But I can’t be too mad, because when anything Potter related is successful I have to be elated, particularly when shitastic garbage like Transformers and Twilight are all the rage right now. This will at least give those sissy-vampire lovers a kick in the pants with some quality fantasy that doesn’t sound like the inner desires of a sixth grade emo chick.

And by all accounts this seems like a spectacular film. The trailer, embedded below, is one of the best trailers I can remember viewing. And early reviews of this movie are phenomenal, and that’s no lie. It’s not uncommon for movies to get in the 80 percent rage on Rotten Tomatoes. It gets a little more rare to be in the low 90s. But the ‘above 95%’ range is reserved for Pixar films and timeless classics (though those two are becoming synonymous). Half-Blood Prince is standing tall at 98% right now, with 41 reviews in. Will it stay that high? It seems unlikely, but it’s easily set to be the best reviewed Potter film to date, and if it doesn’t slip the best reviewed film of the summer, and will join the elite films with a nigh pristine record. I think critics are so relieved that a movie that isn’t robot explosion pornography will be making money that they’re thrilled to give it positive reviews.

Despite this, I still have my misgivings. I think it will be impossible for me to dislike the movie; I’m too intertwined with the Potter-culture I’ve managed to overlook any glaring flaws or omissions in all the movies so far. And most critics have given each film good to great reviews (lowest is Order of the Phoenix at 77% positive, while Prisoner of Azkaban is highest at 89%). But I have a few fears for this film:

1. They’re taking out two very important scenes. One, because there’s a very similar event in the seventh book, and they didn’t want a repeat for the movies. This makes sense, I suppose, and they’re still keeping the heart of that event intact. But the second is a glaring omission, a beautifully crafted scene I was really looking forward to.

2. The acting. While the main trio have usually been stellar (with the weakest link being Rupert Grint as Ron, who still does well), and while the adult cast is phenomenal, this film requires a lot from Draco Malfoy played by Tom Felton, who has never just left me impressed. He’s always been adequate in the one dimensional role they’ve given him, that is, “Be an asshole to Harry.” To which he’d sneer and say “Potter” with the exact tone and inflection every time. But this film gives him some real weight, and I’m curious to see how he handles it. Though most people who seen it have indicated: quite well.

3. The love stories. Romance is a part of the saga, to be sure. But it was never the biggest part or the focus of the narrative. During my stint in “Harry Potter” fan-fiction (should I really admit that to the entire internet?) I always loathed the intense fan-focus on their favorite couple. Romance stories flooded the net, in what are known as “Slashers” since they would be called something like “Eternal love, Harry/Hermione,” or “Dying to save you, Harry/Ginny,” and even the occasional, “Forbidden Fruit, Harry/Draco,” (I shit you not). People spent so much time focusing on these couples and writing these terrible, sappy stories that read, well, read like “Twilight” does now. Every now and then you could find one that didn’t suck, and really captured the tone and focus of the book. But a large majority of fans were invested in the relationships alone, worried more about who ended up with whom than who was going to survive the guaranteed magical onslaught that would ensue. Most reviews I’ve read half mentioned the light-hearted romance that is present in this film, and I just worry it’s taking the series to where many fangirls wanted it to, focusing too much on these relationships at the expense of other more crucial parts.

4. Flying Death Eaters. Okay, so this is one of those really trivial things, but I always thought it was awesome in the seventh book when everybody was terrified upon realizing Voldemort could self-levitate. Now his whole army does it. Eh, whatever.

I think all of these will be assuaged once I see the film. This is the first Potter gathering in two years, since the release of the last book in fact (that came one week after the fifth movie). It’s the first movie we’ve seen since we know the fate of every character involved. And it looks truly awesome. I’ve never watched a Potter film being so distanced from the books. I haven’t read one in years. I actually see this as a positive, since there will be that element of surprise intact. I used to be a huge nitpicker when I was younger. Take for instance: there’s a scene in the first movie where Harry catches a ball on a broomstick right outside Professor McGonagall’s window. Well in the book he caught the same ball, only it was in a breakneck dive. That was all the difference, but I noticed it, and it irked me oh so badly. I have now realized what the term “adaption” actually means, so I’m a little more forgiving. And I was always glad that Hermione’s S.P.E.W. campaign never made it into the movies.

So at midnight tonight expect to see hordes of people in ridiculous costumes going flooding into movie theaters nationwide, and expect lots of buzz around the film for weeks to come (There’s already Oscar talk flying around). I expect this to completely shut down any competition, and while I don’t expect Dark Knight success, I bet it comes into a close second.

Excitement Buzz: 10 trillion.

Harry Potter Retrospective

July 11, 2009

Need a little motivation to get excited for Half Blood Prince? Or perhaps to watch the first five films again in preparation? Watch this beautifully crafted look at the first five Potter films.

Boycott Harry Potter! While You Do, I’ll Be At The Theater

April 21, 2009

So the final trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released last week. How should I describe it?

I’m a little upset. Not because the trailer was bad. On the contrary, I’m upset because it looks so bloody great. It’s one of the best previews I’ve ever seen. I was pretty upset when they moved it from November to July. I felt that Warner Brothers was grossly insulting the people that pay their salary. They moved the movie to when they thought it would make more money, and knew that the fans would be irate but then see it in droves. A part of me wanted to be that person screaming “Boycott the opening weekend!” and actually follow through with it. I’m now, however, incredibly excited about it, so I’ll instead scream “Boycott opening weekend!” And we should. WB really slapped us across the face. But while you’re boycotting…

I’ll be in the theaters. I’m sorry, I just can’t wait.

It’s been too long since I’ve been swamped in Potter-mania. I spent years of my life checking for updates on the books and movies daily, scrolling message boards and discussing theories and ideas and fanfiction. God it was, dare I say, a magical time. Now I’m in college. The Harry Potter series graduated the same summer I graduated high-school. I haven’t thought all that much about it since. I enjoy the movies, but never like I foamed at the mouth over the books.

However, now the movies are all I have, and this one looks fantastic. The Harry Potter movies have always been interesting to me. I tend to enjoy them more the more distanced I am from the novels. They have left out some very crucial stuff, and will continue to do so in this film (though, it seems they might have added something back, based on the trailer). They’ve done a fair job of capturing the tone; the first two were more light-hearted children oriented, and then they’ve become more intense and dark, much like the novels. They butchered the fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort in Order of the Phoenix, which was perhaps the biggest letdown in the series (they also made Umbridge way too important). Hopefully, Half-Blood Prince will be a spectacular movie worthy of the novel, which is, as hard as it is to judge, tied for second place.

This movie has a lot of potential, I hope it doesn’t let me down like some of the others have (some slightly, some more so). I’m waiting for, when I’m older, a re-make of these that aren’t afraid to make long, epic movies like Lord of the Rings. Until that day, these will certainly suffice.