Ordinarily reviews count for little when it comes to movie attendance these days. However, a laudable review by the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano may count for a lot, especially in Catholic countries. The newspaper said today (Tuesday) said that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince illuminated the age-old conflict between good and evil and treated the stirrings of adolescent love with "the correct balance." That's a more glowing review than many appearing in the mainstream American press. Typically, U.S. critics note that it helps to have a basic familiarity with the novel on which it is based; indeed, it helps even more to be a rabid fan of the novel. (Critics have made the same observation about all of the other Potter movies, too.) Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times concludes that he "admired" the movie, adding that "it opens and closes well, and has wondrous art design and cinematography as always, only more so." However, he writes, some of the scenes "may be especially valued by devoted students of the Potter saga. They may also be the only ones who fully understand them." Dan Kois in the Washington Post notes that the J.K. Rowling novel offered only one action sequence and focused on romance. "It must have seemed a daunting challenge to adapt for an audience of casual moviegoers who don't know a quaffle from a bezoar." Kyle Smith in the New York Post admits that in most of the Potter movies, "I dumbldoze through them as the suspicious new teacher shows up, the plot shuts off for several minutes of Quidditch and all problems get solved with the same old hocus-pocus. But HP6 is suspenseful and artfully realized." Likewise, Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel calls it "a satisfying film, just coherent enough, just engrossing enough to cover for the tedious by-the-book slog of even the best Harry Potter films." Nancy Churnin advises in the Dallas Morning News "Be prepared. ... It would behoove viewers to catch up before plunging into a world where everyone speaks fluent Potter-ese, building on long-established relationships. Even the magic, fabulous as it is, is just part of the intricate fabric from which the story is woven." On the other hand, Michael Sragow writes in the Baltimore Sun that the movie "would be a first-rate fantasy even if the audience weren't invested in the fortunes of boy wizard and 'Chosen One' Harry Potter." Besides, as Kenneth Turan observes in the Los Angeles Times , the movies are not really produced for the uninitiated. "It's only the phenomenal success of the books that has made [the film series] possible, that has ensured a loyal audience for each film, an audience that has invested so much emotion, not to mention time, in the ongoing Potter saga that skipping an episode is out of the question. That's a kind of brand loyalty that's all but gone out of style." Spoilers? When it comes to a Potter movie, who cares?

14/07/2009