July 31, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Bad Phenomenon

**Warning. This blog may contain spoilers if you, due to some sort of coma, spent the last five years without contact with anyone except the magical creatures who live under your floorboards and therefore don't know that Dumbledore dies at time signature 2:12:55.**

It's not often that I get to review a popular first-release film twice, because usually when a film comes out it only gets one midnight showing and I go to it and I never have to think, see, or hear of that film ever again. Harry Potter, already a film of so many exceptions (exceptionally high budget, exceptionally low standards), flaunted this rule as if it were some sort of bogus PE requirement. Just when I thought I was going to have to resort to reviewing a film on video this week, I discovered that Harry Potter IMAX 3D was going to start at midnight at my not-so-local 3D IMAX location. I swallowed my pride and a couple of Red Bulls and made the trip.

I took two buses and a train to get to the godforsaken strip mall that had the fortune (?) of having an IMAX, which, I'm told, is only correctly spelled in angry caps-lock. Yes, the seats were more comfortable. Yes, the floor was less sticky. Yes, the screen was bigger. The clientele, however, was exactly the same.

Most of the audience were people who had seen the film before, and not just people who had seen it once, or a few times, but had done nothing since the 14th but watch this movie on repeat, burning every last frame of celluloid into their braincases as if they were trying to download the blu-ray version using only their minds and a 56k wi-fi pirated from the Starbucks down the street. Their eyes were developing the cold, crusty, dead stare of movie veterans who had seen too many friends pass out due to non-dairy butter topping overdose (which is actually possible-- ask me about it later), and who came back not because they loved the film, but to prove that they had seen it more than their friends. Their mouths moved in dumbstruck mimicry with every tenuous quiver of Alan Rickman's lower lip, for they knew every painfully British line, down to the very last excruciatingly accented "Potter."

And here are the best three things. Only the first 13 minutes of this 2.5 hour movie are in 3D, the tickets are %50 more expensive than the regular release, and IT'S THE SAME GODDAMN MOVIE. I resort to caps-lock here, because, like the word IMAX, the phrase IT'S THE SAME GODDAMN MOVIE is only correctly spelled if you are shouting it at the top of your lungs while throwing your 3D glasses at the screen after realizing that the 3D bits, which have been on the internet for two years now, are a goddamn scam.

I mean, I did enjoy the film the first time. As much as I give a good review to anything, Harry Potter 6 actually made my WIN list. The acting wasn't terrible, the plot was decent, the characters were lovable, and I didn't feel cheated. For a blockbuster midnight movie to do that high praise is in order, and I will be the first to have that praise pried reluctantly from my hands like Shylock from his pound of flesh. The IMAX experience is supposed to make a film better, but HP6 didn't work and didn't do it right.

The IMAX is a waste of your time and money, because it is two weeks late.

If HP6 had been released in IMAX 3D along with all the other formats on the 14th, it would have been the event of the eon. People would have lined up weeks ahead to see that feature on the superscreen, just like people lined up to watch The Dark Knight on OMNIMAX in the two theaters in the world that could screen the OMNIMAX film format. But this IMAX 3D experience came too late, when everybody had already moved on to a better IMAX 3D kids movie (G-Force), and, let's be honest, shelling out a mint to watch a movie you've seen many times already with an extra 13 minutes of (rather lame) 3D footage is not only madness, it's SPARTA.

And you're not kicking me into the pit.

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