Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Movie Review

fantastic-beasts-easter-egg-frank-thunderbird

This is my most anticipated movie of 2016, and I have been looking forward to seeing it ever since they announced that we would be returning to JK Rowling’s wizarding world (without Harry). Just like they did with Tolkien’s The Hobbit, they took a thin book, with story set in the same universe, and made a whole bunch of quasi-prequel movies from it. In this case, the original was a little textbook about magical beasties that the Hogwart’s students supposedly read in school. To make a series of movies, Rowling herself got involved to write a script about the book’s fictional author, named Newt Scamander, and his adventures in jazz-age New York.

At first, I was a bit concerned about the movie because it seemed like it was just going to be about Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne), bungling things up in an attempt to recover his creatures once they escaped his magical suitcase. Don’t get me wrong, those are some fun scenes, including a gold-loving platypus-like critter loose in the bank, and doing a mating dance to attract a giant magical rhino at the zoo. However, I expected more from Rowling and friends, and they did not disappoint. The creatures are the hook, but it turns out that something much scarier and deadlier is hurting Muggles (which the Americans call “no-maj” on account of their being people with no magic). This crossing over of the magical world into the non-magical is a big problem, and it brings the magical government into the story, trying to maintain their secrecy — a cornerstone issue for wizarding politics. That’s what gets Scamander into trouble as he gets arrested by a local agent and needs to deal with their American ministry of magic.

The tone of this movie starts off light and whimsical, but as the story spreads, it becomes more serious and much darker. It’s exciting that Rowling expands her world even further than ever. We have seen wizarding banks and ministry offices already in the Harry Potter movies, but now we go to wizarding night clubs, meet wizarding gangsters, and even get to see the wizarding death penalty. It was also great to feel that this world was so broad. This movie opened the door to many other such stories waiting to be told; I imagined even the idea of a weekly procedural show based on cases from the office of the aurors (magical police). There is so much exciting potential.

Along with Redmayne (whose mumbly, accented voice takes some getting used to), the main cast is filled with relatively new faces. Katherine Waterston plays the arresting agent and reluctant ally, Porpentina Goldstein. Her sister Queenie (played by Alison Sudol), and Jacob Kowalski (a No-Maj who stumbles into the adventure when he runs into Scamander at the bank) bring their side-kick game (as well as some romance) to the story. Finally, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, and Colin Farrell all play dark characters who may be villains or victims (plus there’s a surprise cameo at the end). The cast is pretty good (especially Sudol, who I’d never heard of before), and really helped sell this universe.

If I had to provide a critique of this movie, I think it could have used a bit more colour and brightness. I get that they’re going for a film noir vibe, but have a few more scenes in the daylight rather than night-time (it didn’t help that I was watching through the murk of 3D glasses). Maybe not everyone should dress in darks and blacks, either. Other than that, it’s hard for me to speak badly about another visit to this magical world, even hearing people name the old spells brought a warm feeling of familiarity. Now I cannot wait until the next movie (there are more planned) or maybe I’ll crack open the books again — I haven’t yet read the new Harry Potter play, either. This movie really reminds me of what made that world so enchanting and well loved. (4.5 out of 5)

70 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out for in 2012

70 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out for in 2012 (from io9.com)

Link out for a great summary of the scifi/fantasy/horror horizon for this new year. Reading through the list, I noticed four odd trends, and one great one:

  1. Fairytale reinterpretations – We already have TV’s Once Upon a Time and Grimm, now the big screen is getting in on the act with at least four new movies (including two versions of Snow White).
  2. Old franchise revivals – New installments and reinventions take a shot at beating new life into dead horses such as: Men In Black, GI Joe, Spider-Man, Resident Evil, Halloween, Amityville Horror, Total Recall, and Red Dawn.
  3. Continuing not one, but three of the recently played out trends: Superheroes, Vampires, and Zombies.
  4. Potter alums Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Felton, Robert Pattinson, and director Alfonso Cuaron are all taking another ride on the supernatural side this year.
  5. My favourite trend: cool directors doing genre stuff:
  • Christopher Nolan – Dark Knight Rises
  • Tarsem Singh – Mirror Mirror
  • Ang Lee – Life of Pi
  • Sam Mendes – Skyfall (i.e. new James Bond)
  • Tom Tykwer – Cloud Atlas
  • Joss Whedon – Avengers
  • Timur Bekmambetov – Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
  • Bryan Singer – Jack the Giant Killer
  • Peter Jackson – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

That last one, plus The Hunger Games, are probably my two most anticipated movies this year (though many of those others are sounding pretty exciting too.)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 – Movie Review

As a total fan who has lost all objectivity when it comes to anything Potter-related, the biggest surprise about the seeing the final movie was how it wasn’t a sad experience. I don’t want to use cliches like “the end of an era”, but reading seven un-short books and watching eight un-short movies is quite a commitment. Near the end of this movie there was a brief flashback scene which contained a clip from the very first one and it was actually quite nostalgic to see Daniel Radcliffe as a young Harry, just coming into his powers. As finales go, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 was pretty satisfying. For those of you catching up, boy wizard Potter and his magical chums Hermione and Ron are trying to complete their quest for horcruxes — magically empowered items containing a piece of snaky super-villain Voldemort’s soul — in order to cure him of his immortality and rid the world of a nasty evil. This leads not only to adventures inside the vaults of wizarding bank, Gringott’s (another call-back to the first movie) but also a return and final showdown at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (one of the many iconic items of Potterabilia revisited in the grand finale). I think one of the aspects that made this film less of a tearful goodbye was the sense that even though we are revisiting many of the people, places, and things that remind us of movies past, it’s evident how much things have been changing. Deathly Hallows, Part 1 began with a literal and moving “You can’t go home again” montage as the kids left their families and residences. This time, not only does the audience know that this is the last movie, but as the characters move towards a final confrontation, it’s clear that win-or-lose, things are going to end up different than before. The closure is built right in.

For me, the scene with the biggest emotional impact was the preparation for the defense of Hogwart’s. With legions of Death-eaters and other baddies at their doorstep, it felt like a truly epic battle, complete with swelling music. It’s not quite Shakespeare’s Henry V, but I was impressed by how director David Yates (who also directed the previous three Potter films) was able to convey a sense of doom, yet also hope. The good guys were gearing up for a battle that they wouldn’t likely win, but it was extremely touching that they were doing it all for Harry.

Visual effects were top-notch as usual. With each movie the visuals get better and better. Besides the numerous figures and the battle sequences (which frankly were not quite as impressive as Return of the King a few years ago), I was also quite impressed by the vaults at Gringott’s (which seemed to have gotten larger since we saw them in the first movie). I don’t remember them having been so cavernous (they seemed bottomless). Add to that a relatively brief scene with an old dragon who takes the Trio on an unplanned flight, and there’s definitely a lot of cool stuff to see in this film. One of the most amazing things about the Potter movies is that even though I’ve read all the books before seeing them, the production design always exceeds my imagination. I also tip my hat to screenwriter Steve Kloves, who was able to smoothly work in the complicated (and kind of tedious) wand ownership rules that come into play in the climax, while preventing them from dragging the plot down.

Nevertheless, to those of you who’ve read the book, I just want to warn you that some of the scenes which seemed momentous in the book were less impressive on screen. Included in that selection is the “resurrection stone” scene in the woods. Despite excellent performances from all the actors (as much as they could give in a pretty brief scene), without J.K. Rowling’s narration of Harry’s inner thoughts, the scene just didn’t measure up. Similarly the grand climax and the (spoiler alert) defeat of You Know Who also packed less of a punch than I’d expected. It was a bit of anti-climax. However, a set of scenes that I really enjoyed was the Pensieve scene with Snape’s memories. Alan Rickman is great as Snape and I probably felt more connected to him in those flashes than to most of the other characters in the film. It definitely surpassed the King’s Cross Station scene at the end. (I realize that I’m kind of speaking in code to folks who know the book, but despite the relative lack of surprise in this movie, I don’t want to give away too much in this review.) Finally, the epilogue was done well, and I feel like that was a wonderful way to finish things off. It didn’t seem cheesy, and it conveyed a sense of the cycle of life, or the continuation of things, which is always a great way to end a series. (4.5 out of 5)

2010: The Year On Screen

Movies

Each year I am less inspired to go out to the movie theatres. The hassle and the hell of other movie-goers is rarely compensated by the big screen experience these days despite (or maybe because of) the move to go all 3D all the time. Seeing TRON: Legacy in the second row in IMAX 3D definitely didn’t help (but neither did the ridiculous script). Instead, I waited for many movies to hit the small screen (which in my case is 46 inches) and watch them there instead. This past summer, I caught up with 50 of those movies as part of a little summer project. I have to say, I enjoyed them more without the theatre-going bother (plus I could pause the movie whenever nature called). We’ll see what I actually make it out to see on the big screen in 2011.

Nevertheless, of the movies that came out in 2010, these were my favourites:

Kick Ass – I was surprised (in light of the Ebertean controversy) how much I enjoyed this movie. There was action, a clever script, and some good characters. I hope that Hollywood continues to adapt well-written graphic novels to the screen (I also discuss The Walking Dead below). (Oh, yeah, they did in the form of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which I also really enjoyed.) Chloe Moretz was excellent in Kick Ass as well as Let Me In. She definitely showed herself to be an up-and-comer this year.

Toy Story 3 was a great finale to the trilogy of Buzz, Woody, and company. Not only was the animation amazing (I loved the opening UFO train robbery sequence), but the story was poignant and well-constructed. If you aren’t distracted by all the toys, it’s an excellent jail-break movie too. I hope it wins the animation Oscar. However, I also really loved How To Train Your Dragon. I thought it was fresh, fun, and had a great soundtrack. Jay Baruchel was great as Hiccup, the hero, and I think this movie should be a classic. Which brings me also to Tangled, which kind of restored my faith in Disney a bit.

Of course, any time there’s a Potter film I’m happy, but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 was excellent and I really enjoyed the beginning of the end for my magical friends. The actors have matured, the effects are top-notch, and the adapted story is really well-balanced. I’m sure that part 2 will be a highlight of 2011.

Lastly, two dramas really surprised me in the way I was captivated by them. First, Facebook movie The Social Network had some amazing performances (particularly from Jesse Eisenberg) and a crackling script (from Aaron Sorkin). I was intrigued the whole time. The King’s Speech had a similarly spell-binding effect on my attentions. Colin Firth has always been excellent, but he really made something from the halted stammering of his Prince Albert character. Plus, his interactions with Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter were natural, humourous, and lively. Good show!

The two no-less-surprising disappointments this year were remakes of beloved genre favourites: Clash of the Titans and TRON. I’m not sure how the big budgets and incredible effects resulted in such lame-duck movies, but neither was able to capture the imaginative spirit of the original. I guess the movie-makers were just interested in showing that they could make much better looking versions of the original cult hits without bothering to figure out what made them hits in the first place. Only a year after Avatar, both were sad testaments to the soullessness of CGI. (Oh, how could I forget the other disappointing remake: The Last Airbender — M. Night Shyamalan paying tribute to the wonderful animated series that he and his kids enjoyed by sucking the life out of it on screen.)

Television

The new shows in Fall 2010 were disastrously disappointing. The only one I consider good is Hawaii Five-O (and I watch it with only one eye on the TV most times). Shows like The Event, No Ordinary Family, and Nikita quickly faded from my must-watch list. Thankfully, I discovered new shows that debuted in the summer or other off seasons and from different sources. British imports continued to rock, including a modern-day Sherlock, as well as the second season of Misfits and the sixth season of the new Doctor Who. Canadian supernatural series Lost Girl was an unexpected new addition to my must-see list as well (thanks to all those subway ads).

Modern Family continued to up its game in season 2, being funny an touching as ever (I loved the episode where everyone’s racing in separate cars, and also the one with the earthquake. I loved Gloria competing with the girl Manny liked in school, as well as when the Dunphys waxed nostalgic about their old beat-up station wagon. I could go on for a while). Glee turned its focus away from Finn and Rachel onto Kurt, and gave us some very moving moments of drama amidst the comedy and music. Plus, didn’t Gwyneth Paltrow shock everyone with her off-the-hook Cee-Lo performance? (I must have watched it a dozen times.)

After Heroes crashed and burned (like a meteorite in an unknown cornfield), it didn’t bode well for superhero shows. As I said, I have no love for No Ordinary Family, but we’ll see how The Cape fares in 2011. Judging by the stupid title, I am not holding my breath. As for graphic novels, The Walking Dead was a huge hit this year, and while I wanted to love it, I can’t watch it. I see how it’s an excellent show, but I just can’t get past the zombies and the grossness of them all. I know it’s not about that, but still, there they are.

A number of lawyer shows appeared and quickly fizzled, trying to match the excellence of The Good Wife, but that show continued to up its game in season two (despite the stupidly cliche love triangle moments). I’m not crazy about any of the new characters introduced, but who knows…

The imminent end of Stargate: Universe rings the death knell for the last spaceship show on TV (I guess I’m not counting the TARDIS. Whatever.). What’s even more tragic was that I hated that series when it started, but forced myself to watch it like eating vegetables. In season two, I actually looked forward to it each week. Now it’s coming to an end. I’m really going to miss that genre which I have enjoyed consistently since Star Trek: The Next Generation in the early 80s. Good thing I’ve got my millions of DVDs.

After six magical, weird, mysterious, captivating, obsession-worthy seasons Lost finally came to a much-hyped conclusion. It was sad to say goodbye to those characters. Through the flashbacks, I’d come to know them so well that they kind of live on. I’m also going to miss Medium, which has been one of my favourite shows since season one. I’ve always hoped that more people would catch on to it. Though it had OK ratings with many viewers (none of which I knew personally, apparently), I am really sad to see this show go. So long Allison, and the rest of the Dubois clan. So long Jack, Kate, Hurley, Ben, Locke, Sayid, Sun, Jin, Desmond, Sawyer, Juliet, Charley, Claire, Boone (not you, Shannon). See you on the other side.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 – Movie Review

It’s definitely the beginning of the end. When the final Harry potter book came out, fans like me felt sad that this enjoyable adventure with beloved characters was coming to a close. Now, the same is happening on the big screen. It doesn’t help the melancholy that this movie opens with scenes of Hermione casting a spell on her Muggle parents to make them forget her as she prepares for the ultimate battle with Voldemort. Similarly, the love-hate relationship we’ve had with Harry’s relatives, the Dursleys, is also winding down as they move out of their familiar suburban home to escape the dangers of harbouring the Dark Lord’s enemy number one. It may seem odd starting a movie with scenes of closure, but it feels right for us fans of the series overall.

After the opening credits, the main story kicks into gear when Harry and the Order (i.e. the other good guys) plan a convoy to help get Harry to a safe place (using polyjuice potion to disguise themselves as decoy Harrys). It’s a chaotic action sequence full of magical pyrotechnics, and it’s one of the few scenes (along with a big wedding scene) that features many of the supporting characters. The majority of the rest of the movie focuses on the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

As anyone who’s read the book knows, this story is pretty different from the six previous ones as there is no time (at least in this part one movie) spent at Hogwarts — which has been the main backdrop so far. No more pencils (or quills), no more books (except a very special one that Hermione receives); no more teachers’ dirty looks (except for Snape with his usual sour puss — you go, Mr. Rickman, sir!). An unintentional bonus of the change of venue (as the trio goes on the run) is the amazing scenery and locales. With their little/big tent, they go trekking out into the rocky wilderness with majestic mountains in the back, amazing cliffs, vast fields, and expansive forests and shorelines. It’s a nice glimpse of some beautifully-shot European landscapes.

With the trio dealing with some pretty grown-up problems, it’s enjoyable to see how well the actors portraying the trio have progressed. Daniel Radcliffe is very much the embodiment of the reluctant hero and I think he does a great job capturing Harry’s conflicting feelings. Rupert Grint still gets to be a bit of a goof (especially now that Ron has become the “Aw, shucks” boyfriend to overachieving Hermione) but as usual he gets to temper that with some sensitivity and a good heart. I think Grint’s dramatic/comedic timing has improved over the years, and he does a great job of giving Ron those extra layers of personality. While it’s obvious that Emma Watson has become a very beautiful young woman (which was more blatantly observed when she came down the stairs to the formal dance in Goblet of Fire) but she also expresses well Hermione’s maturity, even after leaving the safety net of academia.

Like any fan of the books, I essentially find my enjoyment of the movies from seeing how they’ve brought everything from the page to life. I feel sorry for all the people who go to see these movies without the books as background because I imagine it’s a lot more difficult to care about what’s going on when you don’t fully understand what’s going on. Unlike the other books, the last one had the privilege of being made into two movies (which I would have loved for them to have done with each one of the books) so there’s presumably more time to get the details right. Though it feels like Deathly Hallows Part 1 has a more comfortable pace, there were moments when I said to myself, “I recall that from the book, but I’m sure non-book viewers would be scratching their heads at that particular detail.”

One of the elements that I was overjoyed to see was an actual telling of the Tale of the Three Brothers, which was central to the story and mythology. It was wonderfully depicted using a kind of Tim-Burton-style animation–a highlight for me. The other scene that I liked (though it would be hard to match the poignancy and mystery of that same scene in the book) was the doe patronus leading Harry to the sword. It’s seeing these types of things on screen that I enjoy about movies.

I don’t know if it’s just because the story has become more than merely another book or movie to me, but I found that I really had no complaints about the film. Even the ending seems like a good break point and I can feel satisfied while looking forward to the Gringott’s heist and, of course, the battle of Hogwarts in the last and final film, eight months from now. I hope by then I’ll have come to grips with how final it all really will be. (4.5 out of 5)

2009 Hits and Misses: Movies

I probably say the same thing every year. Despite the fact that I see 30+ movies in the theatre (which is only 2.5 movies per month, so not really that much), they continue to disappoint me. Many of the ones I intended to see got such mediocre reviews that I decided not to go (I’m not a movie critic who gets free screenings, after all). Each trip to the cinema costs me a bit of hard-earned money, and a few hard-earned hours of free time. Sad to say, this year no movies really “wow’d” me. Sure, I really enjoyed the spectacles of Avatar and Star Trek, and Pixar’s Up was wonderful, but I didn’t feel amazed when the lights came up (maybe I’m becoming too jaded). Nevertheless, here are my picks for movies that hit the mark (and a few that completely missed — so disappointing!).

Hits

Up

Pixar continues its track record of making unlovable things (e.g. rats, monsters, fish) quite lovable. Sure, who doesn’t find a warm-hearted little boy scout endearing, but an old curmudgeon? That’s a bit of a stretch. Applause to them for really moving me with this fresh and well-animated tale of Mr. Fredricksen’s crazy quest to fulfill a lifelong dream. At once fun, cute, and great to look at, tied together with a soft “carpe diem”-themed ribbon. Pixar definitely knows how to put warmth, depth and heart into its characters and story so that you forget that it’s computer animation.

Star Trek

With all the rebooting going on, I was a bit worried about JJ Abrams taking on such a beloved franchise as Star Trek. He was even going to use the characters from the original series — which are far from my favourite. However, I should not have doubted Mr. Abrams (especially since I’ve enjoyed almost everything that he’s been involved with, from Felicity to Fringe). This new Star Trek movie was fun and young-hearted in a way that hasn’t been a part of the Trek franchise in a very long time. A lot of the credit goes to Chris Pine as Kirk. I am also not a fan of the old Kirk, but Pine’s portrayal of him as a capable, charming risk-taker (I realize that’s also how Shatner had portrayed him) really won me over. Add some other good performances as well as a slick style and we have an excellent reboot on our hands. (Now if only we could get another Trek TV series out of this.)

Avatar

Is there much truth to all the hype about James Cameron’s latest magnum opus? You bet. Visually beautiful, stunning, and incredibly life-like. I was especially impressed by the facial expressions on the computer-generated characters. Cameron’s team has been able to use computer animation to depict strong emotions to the point that we respond with genuine emotions as well — that’s an achievement! Also, the world of Pandora has breath-taking scenery, fascinating creatures . The only thing missing was a truly inventive story. That side of things was pretty predictable. However, with all that was going on before my eyes, I barely had the time to notice.

Sherlock Holmes

Surprisingly more of an action-adventure than a mystery movie, it was good that Robert Downey Jr. (playing Holmes) and director Guy Ritchie were both able to tone down their typically excessive styles to produce a fun and engaging movie. Even though her role was not as juicy as it could be, I always love to see Rachel McAdams in a movie (she plays Holmes’s ex-lover and rival/antagonist).

Watchmen

Glossy and big, the film version of a supposedly unfilmable comic book series lived up to my expectations and (IMHO) even improved on the original ending from the comic. Because the tone was dark and heavy, it wasn’t your typical movie. That made the film better in some ways, since it explored the darker threads of selfishness, pride, and power, but at the expense of the kind of joyride that a typical superhero movie can be.

The Princess and the Frog

Though set in the less-than-lavish environs of the Mississippi bayou, this movie successfully revives the dormant “musical princess” movie that was a staple for Disney’s animated movies for so many years. (I really miss the singing animals.) After this, I’m very much looking forward to Rapunzel (due later this year).

District 9

While I can’t give it as much credit for originality as it’s received, this story of a South African bureaucrat whose life gets unbelievably messy after getting involved with residents of the alien ghetto known as District 9, was the best science fiction of the year. I’ll never look at crustaceans or hear the word “prawns” the same way again.

9

In a year of odd overuse of the number/word “9” in movie titles, this movie held so much expectation for me that even though it disappointed me, it still kept itself in the upper ranks. An animated post-apocalyptic fantasy with a whole new kind of creature (living burlap puppets) as the main characters. This had “fresh and imaginative” stamped all over it. Unfortunately the concept was underdeveloped and the movie just didn’t live up to its potential. Nevertheless, the movie was great to look at and I really enjoyed all the characters. I just wish there were more of everything.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Another one of these disappointment with high expectations movies. I am still a huge Potter fan, but I really don’t think this installment lived up to the rest of the franchise. Even the original book is a bit scattered. Much of the story centres around Dumbledore and Harry’s quest to understand the nature of Lord Voldemort’s evil.

Duplicity

I have always been a fan of twisty plots and cat-and-mouse chases. This movie about two corporate spies who also happen to be lovers and their schemes against and with each other was clever and enjoyable. While I wouldn’t say that the two leads (Julia Roberts and Clive Owen) have the most chemistry ever, but they were both pretty believable — plus I enjoyed the way the ending played out.

Misses

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

I was hoping that introducing the werewolf element to the vampire/teen romance mix would have livened things up, but it really didn’t. Unfortunately, this movie was just dull. As I mentioned before, I enjoyed the scene in Italy, but it seems like part of a different movie.

The International

With so much going for it, this movie squandered its capable leads (Clive Owen and Naomi Watts) and made international intrigue a snoozer.

Bruno

As expected, Sacha Baron Cohen once again took up his pop-cultural spade and dug up America’s narrow-mindedness and political incorrectness, all the while pushing the squirm-inducing boundaries to the limit. Compared to Borat, this movie (and the Bruno character) seemed even more clueless and outrageous, but that seemed to be its only objective. Still not that funny.

Where the Wild Things Are

Well-realised “wild things” made this movie a visual treat, but the indie-film pacing and the introspective script made it heavy and ponderous. Hardly the poignant kids story that it was based upon. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine any kids enjoying this film (I know the kids in my theatre didn’t like it — some even left early).

Knowing

Nic Cage plus ridiculously illogical plot equals the dumbest movie I watched in 2009. One mystery compounds another and not only are the explanations a bit irrelevant, the ending went so far beyond where you’d reasonably expect a movie like this to go. It seemed like it was going to have a relatively grounded plot. So much for that!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Movie Review


It’s been a while now since I saw the movie (I’m on vacation) but I didn’t want to let an HP milestone go by without some comment on this blog. For those of you not Potter afficienados, Half-Blood Prince is the second to last book in the Potter series and (because they are making two movies out of the last book) the third to last movie. This year, Harry returns to school as the war between the bad wizards (released from prison in the previous movie) and the good wizards (namely the previous movie’s eponymous Order of the Phoenix) is heating up. This movie opens with some amazing scenes of destruction as poor little London is mangled by evil magic — I especially love how they twisted and rippled the Millennium Bridge (which I always thought felt very unsafe to walk across even without evil spells being tossed at it).

Back at Hogwart’s school, Harry is tasked by headmaster Dumbledore to win the favour of new potions teacher Prof. Slughorn in order to manipulate from him some important information about Lord Voldemort — the head baddie that they are all eager to defeat.

While any Potter film is better than most films (in my book), I found this episode suffering from some poor direction from David Yates. The story seemed to be chopped in bits between the teen romances that were cropping up like weeds (look how silly teens are with their hormones) and the seriously dark stuff brewing with Draco Malfoy, and the new element of potions class and the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. I’d read also that the original print of the film had some slightly too inventive colouring, so they had to recolour the film. Now I think it’s all too muted dark blue throughout.

Overall, this movie felt too much like they were just trying to get through the material as they approach the finale. I would have preferred a greater sense of mystery about the dangers around, and also less ridiculousness around the teen-friendly storylines. (4 out of 5)