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.