“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” opens Wednesday with a huge advance ticket sale and lots of great reviews from fans who’ve been made to wait six extra months to see it.
“Half-Blood Prince” was supposed to be released last winter. But star Daniel Radcliffe was naked on Broadway, blinding horses in “Equus.” So Warner Bros. decided to hold off until “Equus” was just a distant memory. Luckily, “Equus” didn’t even get a Tony nomination. It just faded from view.
So what about the new “Harry Potter”? It’s long, very long, and ends on a dark, slow, sad note. At last night’s screening, the kids all said they liked it, but there was little applause and no cheering. It’s a very talky movie, frankly.
On the upside: Jim Broadbent as Professor Horace Slughorn is exceptional. He may even get some awards mentions next fall. The production is top notch, of course, with great music, tremendous sets, and visual richness. On the downside: Helena Bonham Carter now plays crazy too well. She also looks like she’s about to star in “The Stevie Nicks Story” in every movie.
But you can feel the series is drawing to a close. For one thing, the young actors are about to launch into “Harry Potter 90210″ with much talk of snogging, love potions and dating. The real magic is over. If you haven’t read the books, the movies are indistinguishable. Yes, kids love this stuff. A bunch of them last night told me they’ll go back and see it again. And that’s what it’s all about. But is this one of the five extra Best Picture nominees this year? In a word: no. “Lord of the Rings” this is not.