©2009 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
Every right imaginable is reserved.


This week:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Filthy says:
"It's almost as great as doing magic yourself."

Everyone needs a little magic in his life. Everyone needs to wonder how a creepy dude made an airplane disappear, or how that guy on the corner made the Queen of Hearts vanish, or how their underwear got stuck in that oak tree. Magic is what separates us from the animals, except for unicorns. And the Montauk Monster. Have you ever seen a dog at a magic show? They get really bored and then they eat the rabbits. That's a treat for everyone.

Magic means mystery and a hint of sinister. It offers surprise and delight. It's also an awesome way to meet chicks. The ladies love the guy at the party, alone in a corner, rolling a silver dollar between his knuckles, or drawing an endless handkerchief from his coat sleeve. He's nearly as popular as the fellow who brings a pet parrot on his shoulder.

The ability to attract ladies is one of the reasons I wanted to be a magician. I wanted a legitimate reason to wear a black cape to school, or to keep flash powder in my pants. When I was a kid, a teenager down the street did a magic show on a card table in his garage. He poured milk into a folded up newspaper and it disappeared. He had these solid metal rings and he could magically make them link and unlink. I still don't know how he did those things but the possibility that it really was magica haunts my dreams to this day. A few years later, he gave some pre-teen boys animal tranquilizers and took off their panties. I have a pretty good idea how he did that, though, and it wasn't that magical. Still, that haunts me too.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth in the seven-film series about a young magician in training at a fancy-lad boarding school, maybe has the best sense of magic in the series so far. That's probably why it's also got the ladies. Storywise, the flick's all right, not terrific. And at 153 minutes it overstays its welcome about as long as my Aunt Lynne does when she starts talking about how great David Dukes is. But the movie had me suspending disbelief and drew me into its world where its magic is both everyday and spectacular. It isn't overkill, and it isn't showoffy. It's just solid.

I should point out that I have not read the novels. They don't sell them at the liquor store or at RomantiXXX, the two places I do all of my shopping. I am also not one of those annoying pricks who think that movies must be faithful to every single word of the books, as though the book were doctrine and not entertainment. That nitpicking is for losers, many of who measure their worth by how many differences they can bitch about. I don't give a kitty shit in a dog park if something in the book was better or different. I give a shit if the movie was any good. And for a guy who hasn't read the books, The Half-Blood Prince was.

Daniel Radcliff plays Harry Potter, the fancy lad, who is maybe the most powerful of all magicians. He's sort of like the Luke Skywalker of teen prestidigitators. He is also the world's hope against Voldemort, a bitter Dath Vaderish bad guy with no nose who uses magic for the wrong reasons. Radcliff is still young, though, with the usually pubescent desires, like to kiss nerdy-looking girls and hang out with his friends.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince balances the awkwardness of being teens with the magic that surrounds these particular ones. Radcliff makes his slow, uncertain move on his friend Ron Weasley's (Rupert Grint) sister. Grint--a kid who makes me feel good about my own looks--is the object of affection for their other friend, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). All the while, the hippieish leader of Hogwarts (Michael Gambon), the castle/school for magicians, leans heavily on Radcliff to help kill Voldemort. They've been doing that for six movies now, but in the current flick Radcliff is tasked with finding the seven horrocrux, objects that Voldemort has hidden his soul in. If they get reunited, the bad dude comes back to life and really fucks shit up. Oh, there is also a mystery of who the "Half-Blood Prince" is. But, if that's important I didn't get that sense from the movie.

Of the five previous Harry Potter movies, four felt pretty mechanical and left the non-literate moviegoer--such as myself--out. They seemed to be a combination of slavish and confusing adherence to bits of the novels, and worshiping at the altar of special effects. The exception was the third one, Prisoner of Azkhaban, which was really creepy and had a fantastic story about dementors. Half-Blood Prince is more organic than most of its predecessors. The specials effects aren't overwhelming, but they are effective. And the kids who play the magicians have become way less annoying. I think they can actually act now, and there are fewer of Grint's wide-eyed "gosh golly" looks, like he just swallowed someone's fist.

I like these kids, too, because they look and act like kids. They're uncertain and uncomfortable with these weird new feelings in their pants. It's as though they never saw an after-school special to tell them what to expect from their hormones. That makes sense; I seriously doubt they have a class on reproductive science at magic school. The teens are also pretty normal looking. The girls aren't tarted up, the boys are pasty and homely. I can't say I gave too big a shit about their romances, yet it was mildly entertaining.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is entertaining enough, I'd say, that I didn't catch on until 90 minutes into the movie that very little else was happening. There are hints of something looming. A particularly nazi-ish boy named Draco Malfoy is trying to find a way to let the Nazi-ish Deatheaters into the Hogwarts campus to kill Gambon. And eventually, Radcliff and Gambon go on a quest to collect the horrocrux. They end up with three or four, meaning they will have to collect the rest and, obviously, face Voldemort in the final Potter movie. At the movie's end, the Deatheaters do kill Gambon, which I think is supposed to tell us all that this is some serious shit going on, and people could die. Even lead characters.

But not until the next flick, the last Harry Potter movie (unless some grassfucker cooks up some crazy scheme to make more). The events of the movie happen pretty late, though, and their importance is in setting up the next movie. So, the movie falls flat at the end.

One of the reasons that I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the background. There is a shitload of well thought out stuff happening in the background. This includes the secondary characters like a nutty girl named Luna who is sort of like the Bjork of Hogwarts, and a professor named Slughorn who is a clueless blowhard. It also means the setting, which is consistent from movie to movie and makes a great character in itself. After six movies, the fancy-lad academy is well known and familiar, but still seems like a pretty cool place to be with plenty of great hiding places still to be found.

Maybe that's why the slow plotting and lack of emphasis on the important shit in this sixth movie didn't bother me as much as it probably should have. Or maybe it was a little something called magic, and a tapping into my secret desires to someday have a white tiger that performs with me at senior centers. Or, maybe it was the eight St. Joseph's aspirins I crushed up and mixed into a Capri Sun right before going into the theater. I don't know for sure, but it worked. Four Fingers for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood

The Proposal is "Hysterical! Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are a match made in comedy heaven!"

Filthy's Reading
Richard Price - Lush Life

Listening to
Slint - Tweez


Spongebob Squarepants