Sunday, August 02, 2009

Harry Potter Mania

There has been a lot of Harry Potter activity around here lately. Books being read. Movies being watched. Questions looked up on the internet. Museum exhibits visited.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (153min, PG)
I've seen it twice. Once on opening day and again today after rereading the book. It was even better the second time. Since it has been awhile since any new HP activity has been offered, I was very anxious about this film. Overall, it is wonderful. As I said before, a satisfying adaptation of the book and an exciting and interesting film.

The first 10mins are fabulous. The mood is perfectly set for the challenging times ahead of the magical and muggle communities in the story. A couple important events occur during this opening that only those who have read the book will pick up on (read the Daily Prophets carefully). Its dark and tense with a fabulous soundtrack.

Once we finally get to Hogwarts, there is a nice balance between adolescent struggles and silliness and progression the battle with Voldemort. In between many kissing scenes with the students and talk of love and disappointment, the audience learns a lot about Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort). For the most part, the love stories are resolved by the end of the film. However, the many important pieces of information and events are only a starter course for the final two films. The great Snape debate is intensified as well.

At first viewing I was a bit disappointed that so much was absent from the film however upon a second look, many things are begun that I can only assume with be expanded on in the next films. Again, these are things that those who have not read the book will probably miss. This is only an assumption that I hope is correct (since otherwise I will ultimately be disappointed).

Especially since I have recently watched the first film, the acting of the young actors has developed into something special. It is quite amazing that the cast has remained intact for so long, including the supporting and background students. Daniel Radcliffe is just fabulous. His facial expressions are perfect to portray his teenage strife and amusement. Jim Broadbent, as his predecessors, makes a very memorable Professor Slughorn. Tom Felton brought a much needed depth to the increasing dark Draco Malfoy. As always, I would have loved a bit more Neville and Luna (they are my favorite).

Overall, it is great and I recommend it to anyone over 12 (I am surprised it is only rated PG). It may be a bit scary for the young ones and deals with adolescent romance. It is fabulous on the big screen but I am sure I will watch it on the small one many times as well.

Harry Potter, the Exhibit (Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, $26 (the includes museum admission/on-site parking is $16))
This museum exhibit showcases props, models, costumes, and set pieces from the six HP films. As you walk through admiring moving paintings, textbooks, and potion ingredients there are many film clips to remind you that the items in front of you were actually in the film. The highlight for me, a costume designer's daughter, were the costumes. The details are amazing. The exhibit includes items for all the major characters (the tiny clothes Harry wore in #1), the Great Hall and the Yule Ball, Hagrid's hut, Dementors and Deatheaters, House Elves, and the Forbidden so much more.

If you are a huge Harry Potter fan, this exhibit is a must-see. We spent about 1 1/2 hrs there and got our money's worth. I recommend it for people over 12. I will warn you with little ones, the exhibit enters directly into a gift shop filled with fabulous (and expensive) HP merchandise.

I also recommend you use your money and see the rest of the museum. You could easily spend the entire day there.

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