Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: An IMAX 3D Experience (2009)

Since I'm sure some of my readers are curious, I decided to sample a blessedly early 9:30am screening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: An IMAX Experience. I've already reviewed the regular 35mm version, so I'll just discuss the 3D footage that is the main draw for this delayed version of Harry Potter 6. The 3D effects are relatively ordinary and I was actually far-more impressed with the preview for Robert Zemeckis's A Christmas Carol. The problem is that there just aren't any set pieces in this sixth Harry Potter film, the quietest, least action-filled since The Sorcerer's Stone, to justify applying the 3D effects. But since Warner Bros saw fit to present the climax of Order of the Phoenix in 3D, they may have felt forced to do it again this time, lest they spoil the fact that the film was relatively light on spectacle and action.

In this case, the opening fifteen-minutes are presented in 3D. Of course, save for the two-minute sequence of the three death eaters blowing up a bridge and otherwise laying waste to the human world (which does look snazzy), the entire opening of the film is basically just Harry and Dumbledore attempting to pursue Slugworth to come back and teach at Hogwarts again. The orders to take off your glasses comes right as Beatrix ventures to Snape's home for a fateful chit-chat. Sorry spouse and those with similar carnal interests, there is no 3D Snape this time around (alas, no 3D of Luna this time around either). At the very least, I wonder why the didn't also offer a 3D image for the third-act underwater cave excursion as that's truly the action climax of the picture. Anyway, what's there certainly looks lovely, but the lack of spectacle means that the effect isn't nearly as eye-popping as the all-out wizard smack down that concluded the fifth picture.

I'm assuming that there will be plenty of opportunities in the seventh and eighth pictures for indulging in 3D effects, but this film just didn't provide the onscreen material to justify the expense (yours or Warner's). In short, if you're already planning on seeing the picture again, you should probably check out an IMAX screening. Big screen movies should always be seen on the biggest screen possible, and the remaining 135 minutes do look lovely in traditional IMAX film. But it is absolutely not necessary to see the whole picture just to sample the opening fifteen-minutes and be dazzled as Dumbledore fixes a house in three-whole dimensions.

Scott Mendelson

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