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Non-Review Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince represents a fairly significant improvement in quality from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It seems the movie franchise is finally getting a handle on this sort of serialised story-telling, as the movie serves more as a collection of sub-plots leading into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than it does as a story in its own right. However, there’s a sense that the series is getting a bit better at balancing all the competing demands for screentime, and it even manages to explain the title mystery, albeit in a slightly off-hand manner (almost as an after-thought).

Storm clouds are gathering over Hogwarts...

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Non-Review Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Truth be told, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has a lot of problems. It’s structurally the weakest of the films, existing as a bridge between what came before and what follows – but ultimately feels like treading water. One gets the sense that the ruthless editing that made Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire work so well was sorely missing here. It literally feels more like a collection of subplots rather than a movie in its own right. And then there’s the ending, which is ridiculously weak, but also somewhat undermines the threat the last film spent so long building up.

It's not a knock-out success...

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Non-Review Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

Even in this era of franchises and spin-offs and sequels and remakes to see a movie treated as a form of serialised fiction. I’m not even talking about a sequel hook inserted just before (or even during) the trailers, but I’m talking about literally taking one whole movie and dividing it and then releasing separately. It’s an approach that worked for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and for The Lord of the Rings, but each Harry Potter film until now has felt like its own story, containing threads building towards a larger finale. Each instalment has been structured with a beginning, middle and end. With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I, we simply get a first act and what feels like the majority of the second. As such, it feels almost strange to review it without the companion film.

Harry's a wiz by this stage of the game...

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