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The Half-Blood Prince: Thoughts After Midnight

So Kelsey and I are officially part of the  largest midnight movie opening ever, with our $17.50 in ticket money having just pushed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince past the $22-million mark for Wednesday’s overnight opening.

It was a fun night, especially since neither of us had been to a midnight premiere before. We stopped at the grocery store on the way and bought a bag of gummi bears apiece, tucking them in our sweatshirt pockets. Picked up our internet-purchased tickets at the theatre kiosk and got in line at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Lots of lightning bolts drawn on foreheads. Lots of striped ties and prep school outfits and robes. (PotterMania: Helping Parents Recycle Graduation Gowns Since 1997!) Even a couple Dobbys and a surprisingly good Professor Lupin.

I figured on a decent tween crowd, but was surprised at how many high-schoolers there were, until I gave it some thought and realized that they’ve really grown up on these books and movies, and then it seemed pretty cool.

We filed into the theatre at about 11:20 and got a couple good seats about halfway to the top and on the end of the center section so Kels could have an aisle seat. I bought us a Coke to keep the sugar and caffeine levels up.

After the previews, the curtains flanking the screen pulled fully open, the lights dimmed completely, and Kelsey and I shared a “This-is-awesome” grin and settled into our seats. I hope someday she looks back and remembers that anticipation and the fun that came with it.

So, thoughts on the movie:

Having read the first four Potter books before the first movie in the series came out, my own mental construct of Rowling’s wizarding world and its characters has stayed pretty much intact as the books themselves have been adapted into movies. Basically, this means that I’ve been able to kind of treat the movie series as a totally different kind of experience than the books, even though I obviously know where the overall story is going.

The Half-Blood Prince has very different feel to it – the book did, too, but not quite as drastically – than the others in the series, and I think it’s because so much of the various storylines were trimmed to make them all fit into a watchable movie. There’s not a real overarching sense of growing dread or a constantly building feeling of impending doom, or a neatly-interlocking pattern of clues and discovery. Consequently there’s a lot less action in this one, though there’s no loss of drama. It’s more of a series of smaller mysteries and stories that run their own parallel courses, knocking together and eventually braiding into the larger tale.

There’s much less of Voldemort’s back-story, which I figured would be cut, but I missed it anyway, because the creeping growth of his evil throughout his childhood and younger years is a great and chilling portion of the book. The overall darkness gathering thorughout the wizarding world and spilling into the muggle community is similarly shortchanged. In both cases, though, the movie uses well-crafted scenes as snapshots hinting at the big picture, even adding in a couple new scenes to keep things moving.

(Aside: I’ve had a quiet crush on Helena Bonham Carter since my friend Jen showed me A Room with A View during our freshman year of college. Because of this, I find Ms. Crazypants Cackling Murderer who’s got Really Bad Teeth and Kooky Hair Bellatrix Lestrange inescapably hot.)

On its own merits, I enjoyed Half-Blood Prince easily as much as any of the other Harry Potter movies. (Honestly, I have trouble ranking them, although I think as a whole the first one is the weakest, since it spends sooooo muuuuuuch camera time lingering on the sets and visual effects.) But the newest one gets serious bonus points because it will always conjure up excitement and gummi bears and a memorable night with my daughter.

July 16, 2009 - Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Film, geek | , , , , ,


  1. That last bit is why Return of the Jedi has always remained my favorite SW movie, despite how most people say Empire. We’ll be seeing Harry tomorrow and I look forward to it. You make me look forward to parenting an older child who enjoys movies in the theater instead of just on the TV.

    Comment by Minde | July 16, 2009 | Reply

  2. And you know I believe that Kelsey’s love for the theatre experience goes back to before she was born, since Jenn was waaaay pregnant when we all went to see Star Wars: The Special Edition at Pleasure Island, and then, of course, I took Kelsey to a dollar theatre showing of SW:SE when she was six weeks old. She also has a grandma who used to take her to Disney movies when she was little, too.

    Comment by jrbooth | July 16, 2009 | Reply

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