Monday, July 27, 2009

'Half-Blood Prince...Half Of What Phoenix Was'

Here we are again, for another installment of Harry Potter and his battle with the greatest evil since Sauron. 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' is an expositionary film preparing us for a large explosion of events in the final two films. Although, an entertaining film, 'Half-Blood Prince' makes the downward side of excitement.
Much older now, and wiser as wizards we follow Harry Potter following the death of his rebelious uncle Serious Black on the dawn of what will be a borderline civil war in the wizard world. Unlike the other films, close attention needs to be paid to dialogue as well as the props of this latest installment. If you didn't read the novel, you'd miss alot of important subtleties. Director David Yates (who also directed Order of the Phoenix) took the usage of darkness in the films to another level to accentuate the abyss we are going down with these films.
There are many positive elements to Harry Potter that show the evolution of these characters. Of course they're much older (obviously), but more than that the tone of these films have become much more serious; and it's going to get darker before it gets brighter. The intrigue of hidden secrets just keeps the viewer wanting more and more. However, it is much harder to stay interested with this installment simply because it drags. That's all there is to it. The film is over 120 minutes long and this is the first time I ask myself, "There's still more"? I would almost say that a total of 20 minutes could have easily been excluded from the final cut, and a beat would not have been missed. At least I don't think so. On a positive note, the final 15 minutes made the wait worth while. Yates kicked it up a notch by eliminating a pinacle character. Who you ask....I'll leave that for you to discover. For all intensive purposes, there wasn't anything extraordinary about the camera work for the film. But then again, it still leaves much to look forward to in these last two films.
Was Harry Potter entertaining? Yes, though not the most entertaining of them all. But more than anything, it was a major disappointment that this film was not the best film of an already weak 'Summer Movie Season'. Many of you would assume that I'll promote Star Trek as the best of the season...and you'd be right. In almost every aspect of filmmaking, Star Trek met expectation, and to a certain degree exceeded them. Harry Potter should have been a no brainer to surpass Star Trek, Terminator, and Transformers. But quite frankly Transformers and Star Trek are the top two runners for best movie of the season. Harry Potter steals third place. After that, I'll leave it up to you. Only one movie left....Inglorious Basterds. QT, please bring your 'A' game.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Public Enemies...Michael Mann Misses

As of now, this is by far the WEAKEST summer movie season that I have ever seen. To date, the best film thus far as 'Star Trek', followed by 'Transformers 2'. The sad fact of the matter is that the gap of time between theses films reflects the poor path (in this viewers opinion) that the summer series of movies is heading towards for the rest of the season. Another sad fact is that Michael Mann's latest release, the period piece 'The Public Enemies' isn't improving things.
The film depicts the Feds pursuit of America's 'Public Enemies'; specifically Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and primarily John Dillinger (as played by Johnny Depp). In hot pursuit, is Special Agent Melvin Purvis, a clean nosed agent assigned to the Chicago territory by his on the rise superior J. Edgar Hoover. Spicing up the risk is the develop love between Dillinger, and local hat check girl, Billie (played by Oscar winner Marion Cotillard). No one in this story is backing down. Not Purvis, not Hoover, and certainly not John Dillinger.
As stories go, it's not the most brilliant screenplay put to the screen. But... what is excellent is the depiction of a time in America going back almost 70 years. The strongest element to the film is the production work. As in the last three films, Mann has been using various film formats and cameras to create his distinct vision to tell his story. This film is no different however, because it's a period piece there are many instances that it just doesn't come together. What does come together is the intense shootouts and use of sound to bring the reality of a shootout to the viewer. It's these moments that show the strength of Michael Mann's expertise as a director.
I'll bottom line it for you, Public Enemies is easily a dvd flick. As movie goes, it's never a bad idea to check out an action movie, but don't expect any Oscars here. Maybe next time Mr. Mann.