Home > Vulture News > THE MIDWEEK MARQUEE: ‘Harry Potter’ Casts A Spell On Critics

THE MIDWEEK MARQUEE: ‘Harry Potter’ Casts A Spell On Critics


Chaos! Mayhem! Popcorn! Today movie theaters across the country may resemble a scene out of an Irwin Allen disaster movie because Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is set to open and, as with any installment of the series, the crowds stampeding to see it first are tsunami sized.

The LA Times reports that Half-Blood Prince has already earned $22.2 million in midnight ticket sales alone. In contrast, last summer’s The Dark Knight made $18.5 million. Screenwriter Steve Kloves and director David Yates, who was also at the helm of 2007’s Order of the Phoenix, seem to have done a fine job with this latest installment as it has all of the major critics foaming at the mouth.

Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, who always manages to sound uber-excited, had this to say in his high-octane review:

Harry is better than ever, a triumph of visual wonder and emotional storytelling.

He also took a moment to reassure those who haven’t kept up with the series:

Newcomers shouldn’t worry about playing catchup. Getting lost in the hypnotic Half-Blood Prince is what gives the movie its haunting power.

While most other critics similarly applauded the film, some disagreed with Travers’ statement about newbies. David Edelstein of New York Magazine says:

Apart from the fact that no one who hasn’t seen parts one through five will have a clue what’s going on, this barely feels like a sequel. Do we give a damn? I didn’t, until the film started—and it was splendid!”

Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune had similar thoughts:

Would it play with an audience made up of folks entirely new to Rowling’s world?  Probably not.  Did it work for someone who’d seen the previous Potter films, albeit out of order? It certainly did in my case.

In his three star review, Roger Ebert writes:

[Half-Blood Prince] may be especially valued by devoted students of the Potter saga. They may also be the only ones who fully understand them; ordinary viewers may be excused for feeling baffled some of the time.

Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum finds it the perfect way to bring the book to life:

This elegantly balanced production emerges as a model adaptation. The filmmakers have found a way to refresh our eyes and enhance our appreciation for this rich, amazing creation.

Richard Corliss of Time magazine was similarly engaged:

With Half-Blood Prince, again we have a stalwart, satisfying visualization of the Rowling cosmos. Screenwriter Steve Kloves and director David Yates concoct a potent brew of horror and romance, in which the supercool special effects — notably a swoopy-cam ride with the Death Eaters as they soar over London’s monuments and through its creepiest streets — never obscure a commitment to the book’s central theme.

Kenneth Turan of the LA Times agrees:

As directed by David Yates, Half-Blood Prince demonstrates the ways that the Potter pictures have become the modern exemplars of establishment moviemaking. We don’t turn to these films for thrilling or original cinema, we look for a level of craft, consistency and, most of all, fidelity to the originals — all of which we get.

Posted below is the trailer for Half-Blood Prince, along with the trailer to Yates’ other Potter film Order of the Phoenix.

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  1. July 16th, 2009 at 13:37 | #1

    Saw it last night, and really enjoyed it. I didn’t come out with the exhilaration that I left Star Trek with, but I was running through the parking lot, running back and forth and circles around my wife and daughter.

    It’s also possible that the Bavarian cream pie I had with dinner kicked in.

  1. July 17th, 2009 at 09:16 | #1