Before I dive into Harry Potter's latest flick, there are two choice rumors/facts out there well worth mentioning.
The first is apparent proof, thanks to Bloody Disgusting, that not only will Robert Rodgriguez begin filming "Machete" next month, but it will also have a pretty great cast. Danny Trejo will of course play the titular badass out for revenge, who was introduced in the faux trailer during "Grindhouse," but according to Bloody Disgusting he'll be joined by Michelle Rodriguez, Jonah Hill and even Robert De Niro as the senator who double-crossed Machete. Wild stuff, that, but I can only say bring it on.
And in slightly Harry Potter-related news, the L.A. Times says that the three finalists to play Guillermo del Toro's Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit" are Harry himself, Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy and David Tennant, aka Dr. Who. Personally, I'd love it if the role goes to McAvoy, who would just be perfect. Either way, an announcement is expected as soon as next week, perhaps at ComicCon, so stay tuned.
But now, of course, on to "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which I almost thoroughly enjoyed.
The book, though easily my favorite in the series, was really just table-setting for the big finale, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which will (rightly I think, since it's like a billion pages long) be split into two flicks.
Even so, director David Yates, who will also helm the final chapter(s), manages to succeed because even though "Half-Blood Prince" is full of teen romance and other silly games, he manages to sustain a mood of constant dread that doesn't just hover over but pretty much encases the flick. Whereas the early movies (and their directors) had a wide-eyed wonder to them, Yates thankfully knows that this is serious business.
But it's still lightened, of course, because love is in the air, from the comic crush of Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) on Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) to the tender moment between Ron and Hermione (Emma Watson) that pays off all their years of simmering attraction. What really comes through in these scenes is just how perfectly they were and are all cast, growing into a natural chemistry even though none of them are exceptional actors.
As "Half-Blood Prince" begins, that little weasel Draco Malfoy, played to snivelling perfection by Tom Felton, is up to no good, and in bad news for the good guys, is being aided by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), who in an early, great scene in the flick swears an "unbreakable bond" to Draco's mother, Narcissus (Helen McCrory), to do whatever he can to assist him. Meanwhile, Dumbledore is taking strange trips, on which he eventually takes along Harry, to discover more about the nature and power of he-whose-name-can-now-sometimes-be-spoken.
And, best of, all, since every British actor of note gets to appear in a Harry Potter flick (Bill Nighy will play Scrimgouer in "Deathly Hallows," huzzah!), Jim Broadbent gets his turn here as Horace Slughorn, the potions professor whose memories of Tom Riddle play an essential role in "Half-Blood Prince," and makes the most of it, playing up every ounce of Slughorn's constant need to be loved.
If there's a complaint about Yates' direction and the script by Steve Kloves, it's that the flick is indeed light on action- or horror-heavy set pieces, but when they come, they really deliver. The scene in which Harry and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, as usual a slight improvement on the late Richard Harris) go in search of one of the dark lord's horcruxes in a watery cave looks exactly like it did in my mind, and the cursing of Katie Bell (Georgian Leonidas) by Draco is even better, like something straight out of a Japanese horror flick.
And those far more devoted to Harry's saga than me will surely be able to take more umbrage than me at the things that were left out from the book, but from that standpoint I have two advantages: I read "Half-Blood Prince" exactly once more than a few years ago, and no longer have anything approaching an elephant's memory. One glaring omission that irked me, though - AND IF YOU'RE THE ONE PERSON IN THE WORLD WHO DOESN'T KNOW HOW THIS ENDS, PLEASE SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH, 'CAUSE I'M ABOUT TO SPILL IT - was the lack of a funeral for Dumbledore, which was just one of my favorite scenes from the books and left this flick without some much-needed closure.
I can tell you, though, that two of my fellow cubicle slaves who are truly devout Harryphiles, Erin and Renee, both enjoyed this flick at least as much as I did, and therein lies the proof for me that it's both the best of the Harry Potter flicks yet and just darn good summertime entertainment. 'Nuff said.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 6:15 AM