At the midnight premiere early Wednesday, July 15, I could barely find a parking spot. When I purchased my ticket, I asked the cute girl in the box office how many seats were sold. She said that this one film was playing on nine of the theater's screens, and all nine were nearly filled to capacity. The theater had 16 screens total, and about 60 percent of them were dedicated to the boy from Hogwarts.
The box office girl said last time she checked more than 1,700 tickets had been sold, just for that one night. She said half of Salisbury had shown up to see this thing. From the looks of it, she could have been right. The place was packed!
Inside, I hardly saw anybody really young. It was mostly college-age kids. I'm sure there were tons of families though. As I walked inside, I wondered why so many people. Then, I thought, "This is a move about a boy with magical powers! Who wouldn't want to show up for this?"
Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter, the wizard in training, attending the prestigious school for magic, known as Hogwarts. At school, Potter is thought to be the chosen one, the most special of a group of special kids. There's a whole back story as to what he's chosen to do or be, but I'll leave that to hardcore fans who have read all the books on which this film series is based.
I'm more curious about a moment in this film where Hermione, played by Emma Watson, tells Potter that the only reason a beautiful, female classmate is interested in him is because she thinks he's the chosen one. Potter isn't the least bit bothered by this.
I probably wouldn't be either, but it begs the question. If Potter wasn't the chosen one, would girls still be interested in him? I would have to say no, which begs another question. If Radcliffe hadn't been the chosen one to be Harry Potter, would anyone be interested in him now? I know that Radcliffe bared all for his performance in Equus, which raised a lot of eyebrows and a few blood pressures, but ladies face it: he's no Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner. For those of you who saw the Twilight Saga: New Moon trailer, which screened before this movie, you know what I mean.
Radcliffe is not a hunk. You certainly won't find him landing a role on a soap opera or in the CW. He's a skinny dork with glasses, even when he's not playing the part of Potter. Years ago, when this thing first started, he was a cute kid. Yes, he was adorable, but that's all gone now. He's grown up, and I'm sorry but I don't see the appeal.
Yet, chicks dig Harry Potter. This would be a fine, unsolved mystery, if Potter didn't live such a cloistered life on screen. Two years ago, when the last film was released, having not read the books, I hoped and in fact begged for Potter to get laid. I wanted the teenage boy to have sex. He was fully hormonal, those thoughts clearly on his mind. I felt it was time for Potter to lose his virginity. After all, he did have a big, magical wand. It was high time he used it.
Sadly, in the last movie, Potter only got a kiss. With this film, I again hoped and begged for Potter to get his cherry popped, for him really to shoot his magical wand. Unfortunately, Potter continues his awkward dance around girls, never getting past first base.
There's even the idea introduced of a love potion, as Potter and friends attend a class in cauldron-making. Finally, I thought that it was going to happen, that Potter was going to fornicate. But, no! Really, what's the point of having super powers, if not to use them to score?
Yet, throughout this film, my hopes went up and then by the end were totally let down. Obviously, this is a film series, and this movie is merely an installment, not a lump sum payment, another episode that adds to the story but serves not to conclude anything. If it serves anything, it serves only to string the audience along.
I felt like this was just another stepping stone. The filmmakers are working and building toward an ultimate battle, which will no doubt go down between Potter and Voldemort, the dark wizard who killed Potter's parents. This film like the last is setting the ground for that. This film is basically a glorified tease for what will be the climax of all climaxes, the WWE Smackdown-like event in Deathly Hallows.
As such, the whole thing is rather predictable and lacking in punch. The plot points go something like this. As with the other movies, the whole film revolves around one year at the school. Potter takes classes and participates in extracurricular events in which he excels. He helps Dumbledore to uncover more information about Voldemort and in between he and the other students have G-rated flirtations about whom likes whom.
The narrative had no real thrust. Some mysterious things happen and at the outset you already know who the culprit is. Draco Malfoy is the central antagonist here. There's a question of who is the Half-Blood Prince, but that question isn't developed enough for us to be concerned. When the answer arrived at the end, I shrugged my shoulders, at that point, not caring.
In this nearly three-hour movie, Voldemort appears only in a single-second-flash. It wasn't enough, so I never felt any real danger from him, even as his minions circled Hogwarts. The film starts off intriguing with Potter in the real world. You see the media and paparazzi surround him. His magical identity was exposed. You even see the creepy Death-eaters attacking Muggles, and it built up my hopes that the magical world would bleed into the real one, and this film series would open up from its limited environment. Yet, as quickly as those hopes came, they were quickly taken away.
My problem is that the film takes place almost entirely at that school. The point of magic is being around and using it with people who don't have it in order to impress. However, since the film almost never leaves Hogwarts, the whole thing can be simplified to when every thing around you is magical, then nothing is magical.
That's how I felt about this movie, like nothing about it was magical. There was also no sense of jeopardy. There was a moment when you thought Ron, played by Rupert Grint, the third main character, was going to die. My interests peaked at that prospect, and at the drama that it could produce. Yet, again, as quickly as it came, it was quickly taken away, and turned into a joke really.
Thankfully, the lightheartedness carries you through it all. The actors here, all of them, certainly seem comfortable in their roles. Being that this is number six, I would expect nothing less. They play very well together and off each other on screen. You can tell they're having fun, which makes the ride somewhat enjoyable.
Three Stars out of Five
Rated PG for scary images and some violence.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 33 mins.